As we continue in this recession, their has been a continued focus on both cutting spending and finding alternative streams of income. Whereas some people try get rich quick schemes, other people are taking advantage of the situation and starting a business. I previously discussed why a recession is a great time for a start-up, particularly a technology start-up. Why? Because technology often works as a deterrent to economic decline, giving the economy new efficiencies in which to grow.
A lot of bloggers have recently written about starting businesses, too. Green Panda Treehouse went halfway and discussed starting a side business while looking for a job. This article gives good advice and lists a few good resources for anyone considering freelancing. Man Vs Debt had a guest post on how to launch a business from home that gives actionable steps to take to ensure you are going in the right direction. And right when you thought you were ready, Neal Frankle gives us 6 mistakes he made when he opened his business. Learn from them!
Google Apps offers an interesting way to reduce the costs of starting a business.
What Are Google Apps?
I love this quote as it pretty much sums up the purpose of Google Apps perfectly:
Software should be just like electricity. You shouldn’t have to worry about it.
– Rishi Chandra, Product Manager at Google
Google Apps is the transition of office suites from your desktop to the web. They allow you to work on documents and save them online, making collaboration and access easier from anywhere at anytime.
What Google Apps Are Offered?
Here is a list of Google Apps that you may (or may not) find useful in your business.
- Gmail – Touting 100 milion+ users, Gmail is a great option for email
Benefits – Offers email and chat with contacts also on gmail, large storage size (7GB+ on publish date), good spam filter, automatically saves drafts of emails every minute
Competition – Yahoo! mail, Hotmail, AOL mail, your ISP mail, company mail
- Google Docs – Online word processor, spreadsheets, and presentations
Benefits – You can upload files, email files, or create files within Google Docs, can be saved in multiple formats, automatically saved to prevent data loss, revision history is saved, can be edited by multiple users simultaneously
Competition – Microsoft Live, iWork, Zoho Office, OpenOffice, OpenGoo, ShareOffice, ThinkFree Office
- Google Calendar – AJAX driven (sexy) calendar web app
Benefits – Access to calendar anywhere, can share calendar with others, set up email reminders, drag and drop events, comment on other people’s events, offline access
Competition – Microsoft Outlook, iCal, 30boxes, Zoho Planner
- Google Talk – Instant messaging and VOIP client
Benefits – Integrated with Gmail, voice and video chat (also available between Google Talk and Gmail users on select OS’es), voicemail and file-sharing
Competition – Skype, MSN Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger
- Google Sketchup – 3D modeling program for civil engineers, architects, game developers, etc
Benefits – Easier to use than other 3D CAD programs, place models in Google Earth, interact with item in a 3D world, export as image, upgrade to pro for more options
Competition – 3ds Max, LightWave 3D, Maya
- Blogger – Free blog publishing system
Benefits – easy to use, creating group blogs is easy, plugins available to publish to your blog from Microsoft Word, Microsoft Live Writer also publishes to blog
Competition – WordPress, LiveJournal, Tumblr, Windows Live Spaces
- Picasa – Organize and edit digital photos
Benefits – very easy to use, use tags and keywords, keeps backup of original file, face recognition, geotagging
Competition – Adobe Photoshop, Flickr, IrfanView, Photobucket, Twins Visions
- Reader – Web based aggregator that reads RSS and Atom feeds
Benefits – change how feeds are organized, label articles, star articles you want to “favorite,” offline access, mobile access
Competition – NewsGator, Rojo, Bloglines
Google has a ton of other applications, but I think those are the ones most likely to help you out with your business.
Advantages of Google Apps
- Accessible everywhere – No longer will you be tied down to a particular computer. Any computer that has the internet can access your documents.
- Doesn’t require installation – If you frequently bounce between different computers, you may soon grow tired of installing the same applications over and over on each computer. Since these apps are online, all you need is a web browser.
- Collaboration – If two people want to work on the same document, traditionally they have to email it back and forth. After 10 rounds of back and forth, they may have a finished product. Google Apps allow people to edit the documents simultaneously and save changes as different revisions.
- Cost savings – Some software can get quite expensive. Microsoft Office Professional can cost as much as $500. Open Office is free and can read and save documents as a Word document. Google Docs can do that, too, while giving you the other benefits listed above.
- More options with paid version – If you want more users to collaborate on the documents, or need more space or other options, Google offers paid upgrades. The service is scalable to your needs, in other words.
Examples of Implementation
- Two co-workers are working from home across the globe. They arrange a time and jump on Google Talk to discuss changes that need to be made to the project. A few points come up that need immediate attention so they both open up the document and edit it together.
- Google employees walk around the Google campus with tablet laptops and Google Docs. If they need to jot something down, they just open up a new document.
Take a look at this video that Google created to show you the ins and outs of Google Docs.
Do You Google?
Have you successfully implemented Google apps into your business? Has it saved you money? Time? Effort? Give some input or advice!