With a few clicks of a mouse, small businesses can be up and running with a billing system, inventory tracker, email marketing and an online store.
Launched in 2010, PlanetSoho
has created a cloud-based small business management platform specifically designed for small office and home office (SOHO) businesses. The online management tools deliver an invoice system, inventory management, contact management, email marketing, and an online storefront.
The management platform was designed to help SOHOs start and manage their businesses by organizing the offering into three parts: get organized, get promoted and get paid. It was developed this way because SOHOs act more like consumers than small businesses, although it targets managing the business, said Ron Daniel, founder and CEO of PlanetSoho, of San Francisco.
The platform is segmented by patterns of behavior, not verticals, providing six main actions identified as most important to users, said Daniel. "It's very easy to track all activities by main actions to manage the business, including document storage, purchase orders and inventories."
The key to the system is simplicity, said Daniel. "Everything is two to three clicks away."
A key feature of "get organized" includes an invoicing system that allows users to create and send invoices and estimates, which also provides automatic status tracking of these documents. Other tools include time tracking, access to legal documents and contact management, which allows businesses to not only manage their contact databases, but also send invoices and email marketing campaigns with a few clicks.
In a product demo, Daniel showed eWEEK
how to generate, send and track invoices; create recurring invoices; add inventory items; create email campaigns; and edit profiles, all in a matter of seconds. "It provides everything necessary to keep the back office up and running properly," said Daniel. "Everything you do in the system automatically updates the rest. The user is required to do a minimum amount of actions to stay on top of everything."
The "get promoted" tools enable users to create Webpage profiles and an online storefront that allows automatic sharing on Facebook and email links to contacts. Users select the online storefront from three predesigned templates, add items, update inventory and publish it. The storefront fully integrates with all tools, including marketing and invoicing, making it easy for businesses to invoice and create email marketing campaigns.
Daniel said the "get promoted" part of the system is still under development. One new tool coming soon is the ability to automatically send an item added to the PlanetSoho system to eBay for sale. "We'll have a list of marketplaces, and the user will be able to select the products that they choose to sell at those marketplaces without having to manage them."
"Get paid" tools allow users to track the status of all invoices. They also include an easy-to-use currency converter and Paypal integration for payments. A free mobile app also is available that allows small businesses to send invoices and get paid on the go. Daniel said more payment methods are coming.
Sign-up is free for the first two weeks, and thereafter the monthly fee is $9.95. Today, there are more than 1 million businesses that use PlanetSoho, of which 70 percent are based in the United States. While the type of businesses varies greatly—about 300 different verticals today—the most popular businesses are computer- and Internet-related.