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Contact Solution

Face it, Post-its and spiral notebooks won't cut it when it comes to contact management. Go high-tech and save yourself the headache.

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This story appears in the June 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

There's no greater panic-inducer for an entrepreneur than the loss of computer data. At the end of 2001, in my infinite cleverness, I unwittingly changed my computer's preferences while attempting to pull off some PC acrobatics. (I simply must stop watching Tech TV's The Screen Savers.) The devastating truth was discovered on Christmas Eve: Everything, from Word files to e-mail folders, was gone. In full-on freak-out, I soon discovered I no longer had my ACT! contact database, either. After a year spent nurturing my modest but vital database, I was bereft without its flashing "to-do" boxes and "notes" (a feature I use to its fullest potential, crafting detailed descriptions that are Michener-esque). In my solo shop world, I've come to rely on ACT! to record items, set alarms and create documents. ACT!, like any good assistant, makes my work life easier.

Pre-ACT!, my method for managing leads and current clients was an intricate system of Post-It notes and spiral notebooks. Turns out, I'm not the only entrepreneur not treating customer data with the deference it deserves. "Most business owners would never let important financial information exist in a haphazard fashion, scattered across a number of different places. Customer information deserves the same care and attention financial data gets," explains George Colombo, author of The Mentor's Guide to Killer Customer Care (Entrepreneur Press). "For most businesses, customer information is the business's most important asset, even though it doesn't appear on the balance sheet."

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