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Useful sites for small business

Elsa Wenzel | Sept. 30, 2011
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.

Scheduling Appointments

Schedulicity lets your company pop an appointment-scheduling widget onto Facebook, as well as on your own website. The color-coded appointments integrate with your Google, Yahoo, Outlook, and iCal calendars. You can make recurring and split appointments, and even triple bookings. Smartphone and iPad editions are available, too. You pay $19 per month for one person, or $40 for up to 20 staff members.

Genbook, similarly, lets you add a 'BookNow' button to your site and then schedule appointments. It costs the same as Schedulicity, but its mobile components are iOS-only.

vCita provides a professional contact card that you can embed on other sites, featuring options to schedule a phone call or video meeting. It could use more creative design options, but it's a great way to offer your expertise to potential clients. vCita is free if you don't charge for your sessions, or up to $22 per month.

Storage and Backup

Dropbox, in just a few years, has made backup and file sharing almost sexy for consumers. But it isn't the best cloud-storage service for business.

That honor should go to Box.net. You get 5GB of storage free--more than twice the Dropbox free limit--or you pay $15 per user each month, up to 500GB and 500 users. The paid Business option includes role-based access and granular administrative controls. If you're looking for all-you-can-eat storage, its Enterprise plans are negotiable, and they toss in custom branding, group-based access, and dedicated support.

Web Design

When we took a closer look at five DIY Web design services earlier this year, we noted that many offered similar features. But Weebly stood out for being the friendliest for beginners to get a website off the ground. In addition, it creates a mobile-optimized site without making you work any harder. You'll get a lot of features for free, or the option to manage ten websites for $4 per month.

Marketing

Email newsletters aren't quite as old-school as direct snail mail is, and they're a surprisingly effective marketing staple for companies that play nicely and don't spam. MailChimp helps you design attractive newsletters, share them on social networks, and email up to 12,000 messages to 2000 subscribers in a month for free. You'll pay between $10 to $240 a month, depending on how many inboxes you reach.

Which Web services do you live, work, and swear by? Suggest more awesome options in the comments.

 

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