Relevant for:Â Small business owners who have relatively no internet reach
First off, I’m not going to be talking aboutÂ yourÂ industries tools. You’ll know whether you need Microsoft Word, or Quark Express, or don’t have a website but what often kills small business creators is how to manage all the other essential parts of making their own income. Here’s a list of some greate core tools, both web and Mac for the state of business as it is now.
This article will focus on essential tools for managing income producing endeavors in 2010 that take little to no learning curve to use and will simplify how to do business online.Â It also covers why doing them on Mac is a great choice.This article is part 1 of a 3 part series including resources and tools for freelancers, entrepreneurs and small business owners. See part 2 for online entrepreneurs and part 3 for freelancers.
Wait, Wait. Business applications on Mac?
The notion that business can’t be run on a Mac is something I’ve heard over and over. Fact is, for small businesses and freelancers,Â that’s just plain silly. When you look at reality,Â most of the management tools are actually online now a days, and the ones that aren’t, have Mac and Windows equivalents. Large corporations might be sluggishly behind on updating their infrastructure or use proprietary custom software, but there’s no reason you can’t benefit from theÂ added security, reliability (that’s the kicker!) and ease of use the Apple platform offers. From invoicing to backup, to productivity, these tools are solid wins for your ideas.
What makes using a Mac a Good Business Solution Then?
Apple operating system (OS X) un-sexy truths
- Reliability is big as the system runs on code called UNIX that creates an incredibly reliable and secure platform for the rest of everything to run on. This is what those commercials mean when they say things just “work.”
- Continuity is also something non-sexy about the system but makes everything that much better. All the programs “talk” to each other. Your photo program talks to your e-mail, so a click is all it takes to format and send pictures, your chat program talks to your address book, that new accounting program you just downloading can load pictures, music, or contacts because everything in the system shares. It something I’ve particularly noticed that’s missing from the Windows systems.
- Maintenance is NOT required,Â virus protection isn’t necessary. Arguments abound, but using a Mac doesn’t require weekly or daily or monthly virus sweeps, spyware scans or anything like that. Creating strong passwords is the most important part of security on a Mac. 10+ years of experience on a Mac, still not one virus. I know it can happen, but I’m saying it doesn’t.
- Yes,Â it runs Microsoft Office, people still think you can’t open or create a Word document on a Mac, I’ll keep saying it until I stop getting questions about it.
- BackupÂ is built in to the Apple operating system in the form of popularized application “Time Machine.” The ease of use is the key point here. There are hundred of backup solutions for online or system specific set-ups. It takesÂ literally a few clicks (4min how to) to back everything up using Time Machine on a Mac after plugging in an external hard drive. I’ll be releasing something special on the topic of backup in the near future.
Those points above are the big hitters, surfing the web and saving files is just about the same on any system, but with these foundations in place the experience as a whole is much better and thats just part of the reason so many Mac fans are avid about the system. It’s not one thing or the other, but the collective experience that is just as pretty as the machines themselves.
The Â Traditional Small Business (typically offline but interested in this “online stuff”)
Have a Website
You’ll need to buy a domain (thats yourname.com) from a provider, and then hosting space (that’s where the files for youname.com live). Comment below if you’d like to hear more. Otherwise this is best handled by learning it or hiring a web designer. Check us out here for training or website development. Some domain providers to check out areÂ GoDaddy.com andÂ HostGator.com.
This is a bit of an undertaking but a necessity if you are going to move with where business is going.
The easiest social media interaction for your type of company is probably a Facebook page. You’ll be able to drum up followers and release coupons and special deals easily. Branch out and look into a social network for your specific business type, such as Yelp for restaurants. Move to twitter once you’re comfortable here. As you build brand equity, you’re customer traffic will also increase.
Creating aÂ Facebook page is pretty easy, the only requirement I’ll alert you to is that you need a regular Facebook profile page to create a “Fan Page” as they call it, for your business.
Communication and E-mail
- Use a domain e-mail address (meaning [email protected]) so if you have to interact via e-mail for business, you look professional. This gets provided by the company you buy your website domain name from.
- Keep a digital customer address book for when you move to sending out information via e-mail. On a Mac this your “Address Book” program.
Point of Sale/Accounting
I won’t profess to know everything about point of sale operations. I’ve worked professional on a Mac point of sale application but how the money is balanced and exported to another application for accounting is a mystery to me, BUT I’d like to know if this is something you as a small business owner is struggling with? If so, I’d be glad to find out more and package that information in an easy to understand way.Â Contact us here.
- Can you sell something online? Move in the direction to integrate a store with your budding website or simply take the time to get up a company website now, it will truly be investing in your future whether you’re a restaurant owner, personal trainer, or contractor.