Make your home business leaner and meaner with these efficiency tools

Some of the most exciting technological innovations in recent years are designed to help small business owners work smarter and more efficiently. Tools and software that used to be strictly for large corporations are now available to home entrepreneurs and small, local businesses—which is great news for work-at-home moms. Here are a few innovations that will change the way you do business.

1. Social media management

For any online business, building buzz and publicizing your work requires a tight rein on your social media. With HootSuite and TweetDeck, you can blast your message across half a dozen social profiles at once, saving you loads of time—particularly if you find yourself constantly switching between your business and personal social networks.

To keep a closer eye on the success of your marketing, use a service like Google Analytics in tandem with your social media manager so you can see which social networks are yielding the most traffic, what leads people to buy or click ads, and where you should really focus your time.

2. Cloud storage

If you often email files to yourself so you can access them from other computers, tablets, or phones, check out a cloud storage provider like Dropbox or Google Drive. Dropbox definitely has the simplest interface—just click and drag items you want shared into your Dropbox folder, and they’re synced across any number of devices and users you permit. If you mainly work with spreadsheet and word documents, the 2 GB of free storage should be enough for you; but if you work with a lot of images or video, the cost of Dropbox’s paid service isn’t very competitive. Take a look at Google Drive instead.

3. Mobile credit card processing

Until recently, many home-businesses have had to remain cash-only, especially those that operated locally or dealt mainly in services. With a service like Intuit, Square, or PayPal Here, you can have a mobile card reader shipped to you for free, and start taking credit cards from your smartphone right away. If you have a PayPal account for online industries like Etsy businesses, there are a number of alternatives that you might want to check out. Square’s mobile card reader might be a better option if your cash flow is quite large, and Intuit’s mobile credit card service is a better bargain for the average home business.

4. A cloud calendar

WAHMs are experts at juggling the needs of work and family, and having a good cross-platform calendar to share with family and business associates can make it a little bit easier. Not only will it help you get things done in the office, but you can also make sure your spouse doesn’t forget the eggs at the grocery store, or remembers to pick a child up from soccer practice. If you want a family-oriented option, check out Cozi Family Calendar. Google Calendar is a decent generalized option.

Shawna Davies has a talent for organization and putting new technology to work. She reviews small business tech for GoingCellular, with a focus on cloud computing and online payment services. She’s a confessed gadget freak, but when she gets out of the house, she loves spending time at the lake with her husband and teenage son. They live in Beaumont, Texas.

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