I used to be dedicated to Outlook for calendar, email, and contacts, but the cumbersome and ineffective search capabilities really turned me off. And it was hard to sync with my smartphone. I’ve used GMail for my personal account for a few years now, but didn’t want my professional email address to be @gmail.com, @yahoo.com, etc. I wanted my own domain name.
I found the perfect solution in Google Apps. Google Apps allows you to use GMail, Google Calendar, Google Contacts, Google Docs and Google Sites, all hosted on their servers, but with your own custom domain. If you don’t have a domain, you can purchase one for $10/year. Google Apps for business costs $5/month, but I don’t think that’s necessary unless you need more than the 7 GB of space or if you still want to use Outlook.
So, not only can your costs be reduced, but you can virtually turn any computer in the world into your office. Just login to Google Apps, and you’ve got mail, calendar, and your entire address book. And, if your business is like mine and is document heavy, Google Docs is getting pretty sophisticated and will surpass Word soon enough. You can even share everything with people inside and outside of your organization, making collaboration that much easier.
What I love most about Google Apps is the ability to use my own domain name. A domain name is the “.com” such as “nolasmallbizlaw.com” or “nola.com.” Having your own domain name is great for marketing, because it encourages people to visit your site.
If your email address is “@gmail.com” whoever wants to contact you will find your email, type it up, and then be done with it. They’ll be waiting for a response. If you have a custom domain, you have a much better chance that someone will be curious enough to type that custom domain into their browser and visit your website. Even if you don’t have a website, which you should, you can redirect your domain to your Facebook Page, Twitter Account, Pinterest Board, or some other site where you sell your wares.
For $10/year, Google Apps is one of the most useful and inexpensive ways to be more professional and increase the value of your brand.