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As small business owners, it’s paramount that we’re using tools to help organize and streamline our business. After running a small business for 10+ years, there are certain business tools I can’t do without. Here are my top 12 that are very meaningful for my daily operations.

In some of the categories I also list a Runner Up. The Runner Up is an option that I’m not currently using, but have either used it in the past or have strongly considered using it. So without further ado, let’s jump in.

Accounting: Quickbooks Pro

Small businesses need to maintain their books. Quickbooks is the most popular small business accounting package. My accountant uses Quickbooks. My bookkeeper already knows Quickbooks. Although there can be a learning curve in using Quickbooks, I find it fairly intuitive. I can easily track multiple accounts and multiple companies within Quickbooks.

Runner Up: Fresh Books

Office Suite: Open-Office

OpenOffice includes the standard packages within an Office Suite. I chose Open-Office because it has all the same type of capabilities as MS-Office…and it’s free. It can read MS-Office files and save files as MS-Office documents. OpenOffice includes a word-processor, spreadsheet, presentation software, database, drawing program, and even a program to do scientific and formula equations (not sure if I’ll ever use that one).

Runner Up: MS-Office

Email: Thunderbird

Thunderbird is a free email program by Mozilla. It’s easy to set up, can handle multiple email accounts, and one can easily organize their inbox. It includes a plug-in for a calendar and a task list. I use both of them extensively.

Runner Up: Gmail

Browser: Firefox or Chrome

Small businesses need access to the Internet. My browser of choice is a toss up between Firefox and Chrome. I’ve used Firefox for years, but within the past several months, I’ve found some very nice-to-have plugins for Chrome.

Organize Ideas/Thoughts/Lists/etc: Evernote

This is a great utility that helps me track ideas and thoughts. I place all my blog ideas into Evernote. Any ideas that I might want to spend more time on in the future go into Evernote. I can access Evernote from any computer. It’s installed on all laptops and my blackberry. I can capture audio, images, and notes using Evernote. If I am traveling, and an idea comes to mind and I can’t quickly type it into my Blackberry, I can record it on my Blackberry using the Evernote app. The next time I bring up Evernote on my laptop, I will find that same audio note. Beautiful. It’s also free.

Online Communication: Skype

I use Skype to communicate with individuals who are working on various projects for me. It’s a great tool to visually connect with them and, if needed, to see their desktop. I also use Skype for international calls. Did I mention it’s free?

Posted by Carma Leichty

Carma Leichty has worked full time in the multimedia industry as a graphic designer, web designer and trainer. During her 15+ years in the industry, she has worked for a variety of businesses, ranging from small consulting firms to Fortune 500 companies. Her passion for creativity and technology keeps her on the leading edge in this exciting and ever-changing industry.

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