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Cream of the Crop

Everyone plays favorites, including homebased entrepreneurs. Here are some top picks for the best tools and services that power home business.

Running your own business is tough enough, but mix in the fact that you run a business from home-where you may not have access to all the latest tech toys-and finding tools and services that help you run your business gets really challenging. So we persuaded a few homebased business owners to share some of their favorites: What's your favorite tool or service to use in your homebased business?

Scott Corlett, CEO of Compuscape, a landscape design and construction company in San Diego:
"My favorite tool is the Palm Pilot. It allows me to send and receive e-mails on the fly. I'm also able to update schedules from anywhere, with all my employees out in the field. It keeps me very connected with everything. We don't want the process to slow down the ability to do work and touch the customer. Being connected with technology helps my company focus on the customers' needs over ours."

Val Williams, president and owner of Professional Coaching and Training Inc., an executive coaching firm in Edison, New Jersey:
"The most important service I use in my business is a virtual assistant. We've never met physically, but we communicate daily through e-mail, phone or fax. It has made a huge difference in my business. She frees my time to do the things that bring me the most revenue and the things I'm most effective at. Having a VA to do all the administrative tasks associated with running your own business absolutely makes you more profitable."

Todd Brabender, president of Spread the News Public Relations in Lawrence, Kansas: "My favorite service to use in my homebased business is It's an easy-to-use online postage system where you can print postage right from your printer and also make labels. This is an excellent service because it gives packages a very professional look and is also a great tool for tracking postal expenditures."

Ellen Cagnassola, creator and owner of, a soap and bath products company in Fanwood, New Jersey:
"The most beneficial tools I have used in my company are networking and joining associations for entrepreneurs that help me to promote myself. And SCORE and the SBA are services that help find funding for small businesses as well as answer questions, and they definitely promote women [entrepreneurs]."

This story appears in the July 2001 issue of Startups. Subscribe »