Everyone knows Google. Anyone who has access to an internet connection knows Google. You, as a small business owner, know Google. Well, at least, you should.
When you use Google Apps instead of the traditional IT software most businesses use, you’re basically placing your data and work flow information in the internet cloud. Meaning, everything you need is accessible wherever you are as long as you have an internet connection.
You don’t have to rush over to the office just to check on a spreadsheet or have your employee drive to work at midnight to recover a file.
Not only is it convenient, but Google Apps system is also cost-effective and works well for start-up businesses. At $50 for each user every year, the benefits it can provide to your craft business are numerous.
Here’s a quick look at the Google applications and how they can benefit your handmade business.
The multiple advance features of Gmail do not only make it cool but also, it is the best webmail choice for craft business owners.
Some of the advantages you can get from this web based email are:
- It’s in the cloud. As previously mentioned, having your information stored on the internet instead of an expensive file server is not only more convenient but also cheaper.
- 25 gigs of e-mail storage per user. This is in the case of paid Google Apps account. This amount of email storage space can mean you might not have a need to delete old mails anymore which works great for your email marketing campaigns.
- The conversation is threaded. Same topics are grouped and can be read in a thread, which makes it easier to track complex conversations.
- Chat. The chat feature in Gmail is built within the interface, so you can send quick info to your colleagues while browsing through your email messages. Conversations are also saved, so you can check past discussions when you want.
- Google search. The pride and joy of the company, its search feature is built into Gmail which makes searching for old email conversations a whole lot easier.
- Attachment Detector. This reminds you to add an attachment if you’ve mentioned it in the email but forgot to do so.
A web based suite for almost everything that Microsoft Office also offers. Work together better. Publish and collaborate in real-time on documents, spreadsheets and presentations.
There are several benefits Google Docs can give to your business.
- Information is stored in the cloud. Your work is accessible anywhere which makes updates and quick edits possible.
- Document sharing and collaboration. You can share any document in your files and set the permissions for your document. You can share your files with your customers or any collaborators and give permission to edit or just view the files. The fact that the sharing is done online also means people who have access to a Google Docs file can edit and/or view it simultaneously. Collaboration on a certain file can be real-time; a huge time saver for any project.
An efficient way of managing your schedule, Google Calendar is another tool Google Apps provides to make things run smoothly.
Some of the great things about Google Calendar are:
- The calendar is in the cloud. It bears repeating. The great thing about having your files, schedules, and mail done through Google Apps is the fact that you can manage these things anywhere as long as you have an access to the internet.
- Calendar sharing and permissions. Much like Google Docs, Google Calendar also allows you to share your calendar with anyone. For instance, you have crafting buddies and you need them to have access to your calendar but don’t want to give out your log in information. They only need their own Google account for you to share your calendar with them and you can then have them manage it remotely.
- Event creation through Gmail. You can create an event for craft show events, meeting, home craft party, etc. and add your Gmail contacts to the event. They will then receive an email inviting them to the event and asking them to respond. When they do, their names will be added to the calendar and they can view the event or add notes to it.
Google Sites is a web development tool that your company can use as an information center for projects. The benefits include:
- It’s WYSIWYG. No need for complicated editing processes, everything in Google Sites is presented with efficiency and simplicity in mind.
- You can integrate other Google apps. This is most convenient when managing a project. You can attach a spreadsheet from Google Docs, put a calendar entry with the deadline for the project, or email messages addressed to the people involved in the crafting project to your Google Sites page.
- Can be public or private. If private, you can set permissions on who can access the site and what they can do within. The site basically functions entirely for informational purposes for your colleagues. You can also use the built-in templates or have a designer create one and set the site as public and present it to customers or your crafting buddies.
Google groups basically function as public forums for people with technical questions or just want to share info on a specific topic. Here’s another huge benefit from this Google app.
- A main discussion space. When working on a project, it can get a bit inconvenient to have to sort through a whole bunch of emails. Google Groups allows you to have a central area where you can discuss your issues and collaborate on a project.
Share quick thoughts in real-time using text, voice and video with your colleagues.
The great feature of this app that I tried a few days ago is its ability to organize a group video call unlike Skype where it can only allow one-on-one video call.
It’s a great app to connect with your customers and crafting buddies.
While each app mentioned has their own innumerable advantages, the great advantage of Google Apps is the fact that you can integrate them. Handmade businesses can gain a lot from this collaboration-minded inexpensive solution. And since you can try out the free version just by signing up for a free Gmail account, it makes it that much more attractive.