For instance, I run a small public relations consultancy. I originally started out using my cell phone number as my business number. On the website I created for free with Microsoft Office Live Basic, I wanted my website to be found easily, so I did a little search engine optimization (SEO) to make sure that those who needed my services could find me via search engines.
Well, I had done such a good job with my SEO, that my website was coming up when people were searching a certain Columbian singer who shares my first name. (I dare not mention her name with the fear that it will have consequences.) People from all over the world were calling me looking for the singer. I was getting calls from the Ukraine at 3 am! I was receiving emails from people professing that they were my biggest fans. It was terrible.
I needed to remove my cell phone number and email address pronto. Because I do not like overhead, so I started searching for free voicemail services online. I lucked in when I found NetZero’s Private Phone. Basically, you can have a phone number and area code from your business area ring directly to a voicemail – all for free. The best part is you can set it to ring a number of times, rather than go straight to voicemail. It is really a great free way to have a telephone number for a small business. I also set it up to send me an email and text message to my cell when I have a new voicemail. This solved the problem with the crazy phone calls. I solved the problem with the emails by setting up an email contact form on my website rather than provide my direct email. (Unfortunately, I just learned that Private Phone will be discontinued as of February 19, 2008, so I will need to find a new service.)
For small businesses that have employees that work remotely, services such as WebEx MeetMeNow can help your remote employees better collaborate with each other. MeetMeNowallows small business owners to engage clients and customers in a formal setting. MeetMeNow gives you unlimited, cost-effective, and easy-to-use web meetings on demand.
Ring Central is a communications productivity tool that can help you run a smoother virtual business. It can give you all the appearances of running a brick and mortar business. Basically you can have a virtual phone system from $9.99/mo. Ring Central takes the hassle out of communications and allows small business owners to focus on their business.
If you are running a small business, I highly recommend you utilize online productivity tools. For one they will help you and your staff work more efficiently. But they also help to give your company a feel of it being a professional establishment, which is important to your overall branding. Go the extra mile with your business to make it great for your employees as well as your clients and/or customers.
Here is another helpful productivity tool:
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