September 29, 2011, 9:46 AM — Whether you're running a business out of your den or from a penthouse in the sky, you don't have time or money to waste on second-rate tools. These well-designed services and resources are among the best the Web offers for small and midsize businesses. Some include apps for smartphones and downloads for your desktop, but all of them provide the bulk of their features within a Web browser.
In the land of full-featured productivity suites, the battle royal rages on between Google Apps for Business and Microsoft Office 365. Upstart Zoho, meanwhile, has a loyal fan base of its own. We tend to prefer Google's tools for lean companies with little need for the desktop Office applications included with Office 365.
The free note-taking tool Evernote works in your browser, on the desktop, and on nearly any mobile device, so you really can carry your notes with you. If you've uploaded handwritten notes from a digital pen or a tablet, its basic OCR (optical character recognition) function might even read your handwriting to help you find a "needle" in a haystack of notes. For shared notebooks and video, Evernote costs $45 per year. (Evernote looks eerily similar to Microsoft OneNote. The latter tool is much clunkier in a Web browser, but worth checking out if you own a Windows Phone 7 handset.)
VMWare's SlideRocket is a beautiful, cloud-based alternative to PowerPoint (and Google Docs' weak Presentations). All of your content lives on SlideShare's servers, so team members can see one another's changes in real time. You can easily share and embed slideshows, or conduct a Web meeting to walk people through them. SlideRocket costs $24 per person per month.