Whether you're running a business out of your den or from a penthouse in the sky, you don't have time or money to waste on second-rate tools. These well-designed services and resources are among the best the Web offers for small and midsize businesses. Some include apps for smartphones and downloads for your desktop, but all of them provide the bulk of their features within a Web browser.
Stories by Elsa Wenzel
Turning to Internet services instead of in-house servers appeals to companies seeking lean, mobile operations. The "cloud" is a hot buzzword, but moving the bulk of your infrastructure and data there isn't right for every business. Most small companies plug along with a mix of on-site and off-site hardware and software. For some organizations, maintaining in-house servers is crucial.
As with buying insurance or taking vitamins, committing to data backup is a hard sell. Everyone knows that storing records safely in more than one place protects the health of a business, but many companies fail to establish backup systems that will keep them running if disaster strikes.
If you've been using Google Apps for work and other Google services for play, then you know the annoyance of juggling two accounts within one browser. That hassle ended Thursday as Mountain View brought more than 60 services into the Google Apps fold.
Microsoft's release of Windows Phone 7 brings updated mobile-formatted Word, Excel, and PowerPoint programs, and OneNote Mobile, to your fingertips. The touchscreen-friendly revamp of Office Mobile is radically different from version 6.5. And files are supposed to resemble their appearance on the desktop more closely.
Google's business search box will sift through data in the cloud and behind company firewalls with the Monday release of Google Search Appliance 6.8.
Many people log on to Facebook primarily for fun, but businesses are increasingly turning to the social networking site as an advertising gold mine. By placing ads on Facebook, you can zero in on a select portion of some half a billion users according to their interests and demographics.
A unique online presentation tool on Thursday began letting users in multiple locations work on the same page at the same time. With Prezi Meeting, up to 10 people can access and edit Flash-based presentations made in Prezi.
Sluggish sales and hard-to-get loans may blight the business landscape, but cutting energy waste can bring a big payoff to a small company. To shave liabilities off your profit-and-loss statement, aim to slash your power consumption instead of your workforce or the crucial projects that could help your company expand.
Keeping mobile phones and other portable electronics charged is a hassle if you make frequent business trips or work in multiple locations. Inevitably, your smartphone's battery dies far from a power source just when you need to make a crucial call or get directions to a meeting.