Considering buying a scanner but not sure what you'd use it for? Here's how some entrepreneurs make the most of their machines: Patricia Frey, owner of Odds & Ends Multimedia in Crestwood, Illinois, has found her scanner to be a great timesaver. "I never thought I'd use it as much as I do," she says. "Now I have two, and they've paid for themselves a hundred times over."
Frey puts her scanner to work by scanning text documents. "Recently, I scanned [a 100-page document] in less than an hour--and saved myself about 20 hours of typing."
Scanning letters, financial forms and other documents into your computer for digital storage can be a lifesaver if, like Karen Schouest, owner of Legal Visions Inc., a computer and office automation consultant for the legal industry, you handle a great deal of paperwork for clients. "One [project] I'm involved with is a class action case with almost 10,000 claimants," says the New Orleans entrepreneur. "One of the big problems before we computerized the information was the constant handling of the files, the stress of losing files or not being able to find them quickly, and the delays in having to make copies of certain materials that were constantly needed." Then Schouest scanned the documents into her computer. Now when a copy of a document is needed, she just prints it out.
Julene K. Merilatt, owner of OfficePower Services, an office support service in St. Petersburg, Florida, scans photos and logos to use in her clients' brochures and fliers.
"To make ads stand out, I create clever backgrounds for them by scanning in the patterns and textures of items like crinkled paper, ribbed sock tops and washrags," says Janet Green, owner of The Ad Shop Plus in Des Moines, Iowa.
Denise Luhman, owner of DeniBear Creations, a secretarial/desktop-publishing service in Pompano Beach, Florida, suggests using your scanner to redo your letterhead if you move to new quarters or the phone company assigns you a new area code. Just scan your old letterhead, make the changes, print it out--and save yourself a trip to the print shop.
Donna Chambers is a freelance business writer and small-business owner. She can be reached at email@example.com
Direct e-mail is one of the best ways to get the message out about your business. However, creating an effective direct e-mail campaign can be tricky. If you're considering direct e-mail, these Web sites can help:
- PostMaster Direct Response from NetCreations Inc. (http://www.postmasterdirect.com) has a master list of more than 700,000 unique e-mail addresses in more than 9,000 categories.
- Visit http://www.avenue.com/about/ads.html for a series of mailing lists you can use to send targeted, low-cost advertising.
- To keep up with trends in online direct marketing, visit the Web sites of Advertising Age magazine (http://www.adage.com/interactive/daily/index.html) and the Direct Marketing Association (http://www.dmnews.com).
More Power To You
Do you rely on a laptop computer away from the office? The Executive P2 ($79.95), a power inverter designed and marketed by Cobra Electronics Corp., may be for you.
An inverter is a device used to convert direct current (DC) or battery power into alternating current (AC). This way, instead of using up the battery in your laptop or cell phone, you use the charge of the inverter while keeping your equipment charged. It works for most low-power office appliances and allows you to use AC power appliances in cars.
The Executive, touted as the world's smallest inverter, converts 12V DC to 115V AC. For more information, call (773) 889-3087.
The Ad Shop Plus, (515) 243-8348, http://www.adshopplus.com
Cobra Electronics Corp., 6500 W. Cortland St., Chicago, IL 60707, (773) 804-6227
DeniBear Creations, P.O. Box 10002, Pompano Beach, FL 33061-0002, firstname.lastname@example.org
Legal Visions Inc., (504) 581-5152, KSchouest@aol.com
Odds & Ends Multimedia, 13152 S. Cicero Ave., #136, Crestwood, IL 60445, email@example.com
OfficePower Services, (813) 576-9194, firstname.lastname@example.org