Entrepreneur's Complete Guide To Software

Contact Sport

Jodie Gastel runs an executive assistant service called Virtual Attache in Victoria, British Columbia, and her daily tasks range from stuffing envelopes to setting up 401(k) plans. She credits Maximizer 5.0, a contact-management program from Multiactive, with helping her keep track of her clients' demands.

Gastel, 28, spent five years at the Greater Victoria Economic Development Commission assisting other people in starting their own businesses. Then, in 1997, ready to try entrepreneurship herself, she left to start her own virtual service for small and larger companies that couldn't afford or didn't have the room for full-time, in-person assistants. Maximizer, a program Gastel used at the commission, stayed with her.

Maximizer helps Gastel respond to her clients whenever necessary. "I need to be able to answer the question, 'What have you done for me lately?' " she says. For each client account, Gastel can access a single screen with icons for all her notes, scheduled tasks, appointments, an address book with all contacts related to that client, a customized database for those contacts and even a list of related documents like invoices, faxes and e-mails.

Gastel also has a 1-year-old at home, which makes it much more of a challenge to stay flexible yet precise about time spent at work. Maximizer makes it easy. "I just drag and drop a client's name to an hourglass icon, and it starts timing," she says. "I can literally record to the second the amount of time I spend on each project."

It's only appropriate that a person in virtual services bought her software over the Net. Gastel purchased Maximizer by downloading it from the Multiactive Web siteand received a 33 percent discount to boot. She needed the program immediately, and she got it. "With a 56K modem," she explains, "the download took about 2 hours--as I slept."

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This article was originally published in the November 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: <i>Entrepreneur</i>'s Complete Guide To Software.

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