how google’s free applications can work for your business
  By Rick Segel, CSP

     Google is like no other business model in the world; it has grown faster than any other business in its time, quickly ballooning to a size that rivals old, established companies that have been around for 100 years; and it has made more millionaires through its stock than any other company in years. The truly amazing part is that 85 percent of everything Google creates, distributes and supports is free.

     Recently, I interviewed Deborah Chou, a Google information officer, at her California office. We talked about Google’s various tools and which ones every business should be using to help make their business more profitable.

Getting started
     Before you begin, you need to open a Google Account, which is as easy as supplying a name, password and e-mail address. An account can be created through any of Google’s various offerings like Gmail, AdWords or Google Calendar. So let’s get started!

     Go to and then do a search for “Google Tools.” Then click on the second item down, “More Google Products.”

Here are my top 10 recommendations for Google apps that every businessperson should consider.

  1. Google Alerts. Any time an interest of yours is in the news, you can create an alert by word, phrase, name or category and Google will send you an e-mail alert with the link to articles, websites, blogs—you name it! Do this right away by listing every competitor you have, trends in your industry, your name, your company’s name or any other category, phrase or keyword you can think of. You can customize your alerts to be received hourly, daily, weekly or even monthly. I read mine daily, as it’s an easy way to stay up-to-date with all of the various industries I follow.

  2. Google Calendar. I find this to be an invaluable tool because I’m able to access my entire calendar on my mobile phone or computer—appointments, dates, deadlines, birthdays—anything that you would document on a calendar, you can access anytime, anywhere. You can also customize each update to automatically update your entire team’s calendars, or specific people, on both their mobile devices and computers whenever you choose.

  3. This is a division of Google that allows you to create a free blog. If you have ever been intimidated with the prospect of creating a blog, don’t be! makes it simple and painless to create a blog customized to your needs and specifications. In less than 15 minutes, you’ll be up and running!

  4. Google Sites. This is a free and easy way to create a webpage. They even have dozens of prebuilt templates for you to choose from, and some wonderful, easy-to-follow videos that walk you through the entire process.

  5. Google Checkout. This is a complete online shopping cart and credit card processing service. The benefit of using Google is the fact that there are no extra or hidden charges. They supply you with an order management system, fraud protection, a product search feature, and of course, the brand recognition and good name of Google itself. Your customers will be able to clearly see the Google graphics on your website, giving them a greater feeling of transaction security.

  6. Google Docs. This is a great document management system that allows multiple people to work on the same document and access each document at any time. The application could work for mailers, ad copy and even store layout and design.

  7. Google Forms. This is actually part of Google Docs. It is a collection of templates for any form that you would need to run your business (a similar product is also offered by Microsoft in Word). The benefit of using Google is that it integrates seamlessly with Google Docs, which is accessible to your entire team.

  8. Google Business Image. This collection of images is free to use with no copyright restrictions. The benefit here is that it enables you to insert first-rate images into all the different forms of communication you use to run your business.

  9. Google Voice. This unique service allows you to filter all of your calls and messages into one phone number. It also has a feature that will transcribe voice messages. On this one, be sure to review the video because the possibilities are endless!

  10. Google Business Channel. The Google Business Channel is a collection of short videos on YouTube that explain every product Google offers. Trust me, it is a must for anyone in business today.

     And one more thing: Make sure that your business is registered with Google Local. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go to the Business Channel and find out.

Rick Segel, CSP, is a seasoned retailer of 25 years and the author of 12 books. As a Certified Speaking Professional, he offers keynotes, seminars, training sessions and breakouts covering every aspect of growing and running a business. Learn more at

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