Small business owners have a lot of expenses to deal with. Everything costs money – office rent, supplies, IT hardware, employees, taxes, fees – the list goes on forever. One area where most small businesses do not have a lot of spare room in the budget is purchasing software. Unfortunately, for most of us software is a mission-critical item, and we can’t run our businesses without the appropriate software tools for the job at hand.
G Suite, the set of cloud-based office productivity and communication tools from Google, can make an enormous difference in your software expenses. G Suite is well-supported both professionally by Google and on a peer basis by a widespread user community, and it provides a highly functional and efficient set of tools.
Deploying G Suite as the primary software engine of your business can keep you and your team online and at maximum productivity with only a minimal cash outlay—as little as $5/month per user. You can also use all the tools of G Suite absolutely free as a consumer-level user; business users don’t see ads, can have multiple accounts using the same shared workspace, have access to a nifty control panel, and have a few other advantages.
G Suite has a number of core components, some of which will be familiar to you and others of which might be new. The four key communication components are Gmail, Hangouts, Calendar, and Google+. For productivity and tasks, there are Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, and Sites. Online cloud storage is provided by Drive.
Signing up for G Suite is extremely simple. All you need is a domain name and the contact information for your business. If you don’t already have a domain name, you can acquire one as part of the signup process. Note that you probably will not be able to create a user account using a free domain name service like bz.nf or dot.tl; Google considers those domain providers as being likely to be used for spam. You’ll need a legitimate domain name if you don’t already have one.
Worried that G Suite might not be right for you? No need to fret – there’s a 14-day free trial. You can sign up and experiment freely to make sure the tools provided are a good fit for your business empire. There are three service tiers—G Suite Basic, Business, and Enterprise, with additional storage and features at the higher levels. In this post, we’ll be talking about G Suite Basic.
“I’d like to use Gmail for my business account, but that @gmail.com address makes me look kind of like an amateur” – sound familiar? Gmail is a fantastic tool with vast storage and amazing search capabilities, but you look a bit like a schmuck for using it. With G Suite, you get the power of Gmail but get to front-end it with your own email address at your own domain.
In addition, you get 30 GB of storage space per account, 24/7 professional support, the ability to synchronize to Microsoft Outlook and other email providers, and a 99.9% uptime guarantee.
Given the above-listed features, you can run a sophisticated email marketing center through your G Suite email account. G Suite allows you to create up to 30 email aliases per user account, allowing you to receive and send email to (for example) firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and so on, all in a single user’s Inbox.
G Suite’s tools for document creation and collaboration are extremely powerful. There’s Docs for written content, Sheets for spreadsheets, and Slides for presentations. All three connect seamlessly to the Drive storage component of G Suites, and you can share documents freely within your entire organization on any device, whether Windows, Mac, Android, or iOS.
You can configure G Suite to work offline as well, allowing you to achieve maximum productivity whether you’re on the net or on the go. All the G Suite productivity tools were designed with collaboration in mind so sharing workflows with other people, whether inside or outside of your organization, could not be simpler.
All that content can be made public-facing, with powerful access controls – you can make entire sections of your business content library available for public view, letting you put your presentations and documents out there for the world to see. You can also share more specifically by sharing individual files with whoever you want to collaborate with. Drive provides each user with 30 GB of free storage (upgrades to 1 TB or infinite storage are easy to get and reasonably priced), shared with your Gmail account.
Okay so, storage is great and everything but when you really want to share your vision with the world, you need a website. G Suite has you covered with Sites, a powerful and flexible way to create intranets, wikis, and external websites with tremendous simplicity. No coding knowledge or HTML expertise is required; the Site’s interface lets you drag and drop design elements to create professional-looking sites quickly and easily.
Video conferencing has been the promise of the future for a long while now, but G Suite Hangouts has actually made it practical and inexpensive. You can host video chats with up to 25 members, and those chats have a lot of collaborative power. Participants can share screens with one another, allowing seamless integration of a video/audio feed while working together on documents. You can host your Hangouts on Air, a service that automatically live streams a Hangout and simultaneously archives it to your YouTube account, allowing you to create a steady stream of video content just from your meetings.
One of the most powerful tools in G Suite is the shared Calendar feature. Everyone in your organization can have their own calendar, and you can also create shared calendars for teams. Even better, you can make a business calendar publicly available, giving all your customers access to what your company has scheduled! Calendar integrates smoothly with other G Suite tools, so that users can add calendar appointments effortlessly via Gmail, and put Hangout links on the Calendar so that one click will automatically bring the Hangout to life.
We’ve only touched on the bare outlines of what your business can do with G Suite. There are a lot more tools and options available, from creating blog streams in Google+ to speeding up your notetaking with Keep to maintaining permanent records with Vault. G Suite is a powerful and adaptable tool for your small business, and you can get a tremendous amount out of it. Best of all, it’s free to try and cheap to use. Sign up and start collaborating today!