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News You Can Use: Free technology tools

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Cameron Herold is former chief operating officer of the world’s largest residential junk removal company, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? Today, he is founder of BackPocket COO, coaching CEOs of high-growth companies around the world. CELESTE SMITH cesmith@charlotteobserver.com

Entrepreneurs need to get tasks done quickly and cheaply.

A big step toward accomplishing this is using some of the free technology tools out there.

That message came from Cameron Herold, former chief operating officer of the world’s largest residential junk removal company, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? He points to a track record of growing the company’s revenues from $2 million to $106 million in just six years.

Today, Herold is founder of BackPocket COO, coaching CEOs of high-growth companies around the world.

He spoke last week to Charlotte-region CEOs and business owners at the Vistage All-City event at Harris Conference Center.

His talk was called “From Zero to Good: How to Build a $100+ Million Business.” But businesses needn’t spend that kind of money to get that success, Herold said. One big area of savings is in information technology. Why pay for expensive software, he said, when there are so many good, free options out there?

Here’s his list, along with descriptions of what these tools do. Find them through mobile app stores and online searches:

Dragon Dictation: Transcribes your dictated notes, texts and emails.

Dropbox: Stores files in the cloud where users can access them from their computers, smartphones or tablets.

Google Drive: Uploads photos, videos and documents for online sharing.

RoboForm: Remembers passwords and automatically fills in online account login forms.

1Password: Remembers passwords, credit card numbers, bank account numbers and other sensitive data.

DropSend: Emails large files of up to 2GB for free.

DocuSign: Adds digital e-signatures to documents.

Asana, SmartSheet: Both are free project-management and work-collaboration software solutions.

TheResumator.com, Hireology: Both provide human resources software that manages recruiting and hiring.

NanoRep: Automatically compiles and provides instant answers to emails or online questions from customers.

TinyPulse.com: Offers a free 14-day trial sign-up. Sends a once-a-week email to employees that takes the pulse of an organization through anonymous feedback.

15Five.com: Offers a free four-week trial. Employees spend 15 minutes writing reports that take managers five minutes to read. Helps track employee morale.

CardMunch: Coverts a business card into a contact in a mobile device via an app.

Elance.com, Guru, Amazon Mechanical Turk, HireMyMom.com: Use these sites to post work you need done by freelancers and professionals.

CrowdSpring: Use this site to outsource creative ideas, logos and graphic design work.

Other tips from Herold:

• If your editing or email software has an auto-correct function, use it to keep standard email responses handy. They can be quickly accessed through a few keystrokes. For example, replace a random string of letters, such as TFN, with longer text: “Thank you for your note requesting information about my company,” etc. This saves you from writing original email responses to every query, Herold said.

• Use Skype video service for interactions with customers or potential customers. It helps build connections.

• Teach employees how to use tablets and mobile devices to take notes during meetings.

• Use wireless headsets in the office so everyone can walk around.

Small businesses owners and entrepreneurs: Tell us your story of how your company solved a problem and turned a corner. Contact reporter Caroline McMillan Portillo at 704-358-6045 or cmcmillan@charlotteobserver.com.
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