Come Together--Virtually Virtual tools for getting more done with fewer employees.
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Today's online technology tools allow small businesses to get more work done with fewer employees or with teams located in distant cities and states. Most are inexpensive, if not free. Below are some of my favorites.
Central Desktop is an online project-management and wiki-like intranet tool that allows you to set up projects with collaborators and customers, and manage all manner of communication, file and document sharing. It's a great tool for creating online operations or employees manuals.
Dropbox is simply a high powered FTP site, but the interface and work flow is impressive. Users simply drag files to dropbox desktop folders, which are then uploaded and stored online. You can share folders with anyone. Upload a file and it shows up on your remote co-worker's desktop. You can even set up public folders so anyone can send large files without clogging e-mails.
The free online Google Calendar lets you share your calendar with collaborators and sync with desktop and phone calendars over the air.
Virtual collaboration via iLinc allows you to work face-to-face in real time using web- and videoconferencing. It also allows you to access files and programs off multiple desktops and visit websites together with a live browser so you can take someone to a page and walk them through a real demo or sign-up process.
Jott allows you to record voice memos that get turned into e-mail text. You can create boxes for anyone you collaborate with and send notes as you wiz down the freeway. While you're at it, use voice messages to create groups for distribution, post appointments to Google Calendar and even update your Twitter feed.
SimpleEvent is a free conference-call service, but it has some useful additional features. For example, you can put together meetings on the fly and have multiple folks join in. You can also use it to host large web meetings of up to 1,000 participants.
John Jantsch is a veteran marketing coach, award-winning blogger and author of Duct Tape Marketing: The World's Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide. Find out more at ducttapemarketing.com.