First of all great choice to look for an online contact database. This is far more useful than having contacts sit on your hard drive not accessible to other people that need them. The best online contact database is Highrise by 37signals, http://www.highrisehq.com/. They have a fantastic product. There is a free version and then a version for $12 a month that will allow you to sign in up to three members. You go to a website which means that anyone can access it from anywhere. I also find their contact management very simple and the features are what you need not a bunch of other clutter. I hope this is useful.
Thanks for the suggestion. Highrise looks like a decent service, but they're too limited in the types of contact files you can upload. It seems really odd that they do not recognize "generic csv" files, only those generated by Outlook, ACT, etc.
I have over 7K contacts in a different database and the thought of having to do much work to convert them is a bit daunting. Just to be sure, I tried uploading a CSV file generated from my existing (stand alone) database...and Highrise is as good as their word - it didn't recognize the file.
My best guess is that Highrise doesn't want to go through the work of recognizing/assigning the various database fields that would be generated in a generic CSV vs. one of the formats that they do except. I like that the free Salesforce account does this...but it has other drawbacks.
The online service I use and love is Free Contact Manager. As I write in my Resource Guide For Entrepreneurs:
Free Contact Manager
This has to be one of the slickest CRM programs I have found. It has both free and paid options and includes more bells and whistles than a Spike Jones recording. (Anyone out there remember Tea for Two?) You can manage mailing lists, affiliate programs, newsletter campaigns and all sorts of other programs as well. You can even manage project timelines, product launches and even several email accounts.
And the best part is, it's free! Best of luck to you. Check them out. Managing your database is without a doubt the most sensitive of the jobs you'll have to do as an entrepreneur. This is a great tool that can grow with you as well.
You might also want to look at linkedin.com
Stephan, talking about Linkedin, Bank of America posted the following
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The Contact Book functions of LinkedIn don't offer the ability to import large quantities of external contacts. It also doesn't offer any of the database manipulation I need.
Not sure if this would be any help to you http://homepage.mac.com/phrogz/CSV2vCard_v2.html. This allows you to convert CSV files into vCards which Highrise does accept. I am not sure how well it works. But thought I would pass it along.
If you like the CRM functionality, and want to keep the costs down, there are some great options out there. We have been using SugarCRM as a base system for some time with our clients, and if you don't need too many bells and whistles, the Community Edition is F-R-E-E...you just need to host it on a server in your office, or with a third party. This should accomplish the access for your team that you are looking for. If you are not in to hosting yourself, for example, we offer SugarCRM Community Edition hosting as low as $50/month per company for up to 10 users. With the SugarCRM CE product, you can have unlimited users with no license fees (it's open source software), and you have the flexibility to customize it around your business processes as you wish.
There are a TON of options down this road if you like the SaaS approach to managing your contacts.
Here are a couple of links to some options if you'd like to research:
Have you looked at Kyliptix? - www.kyliptix.com
They have a simple to use CRM which includes a contact manager for less than $20 per month per user with no contracts so if you don't use it you don't pay for it. It seems to be targetted at the small business so could be a good option for you.
why not build your own database and function?
If you build your own on an online server / webhost you can have as many database tables and fields as you want. With a atabase like MySQL you can update add-on and delete fields to change it as your needs change.
It gives you a lot more flexibility when you design your own database and allows you to make custom scripts to access, parse and use the data however you want. With 7,000 contacts in a database - you could call up contacts with a script that only shows specific zip codes, states, cities, etc
You can also use it to create files or emails that are designed sorta like this :
Hello <?php echo $add_surname . " " . $add_full_name; ?>,
We would like to Thank You for your recent etc..
In your state you can locate us by going to: <?php echo $zip_code_letter ?>
You can make dynamic forms, emails, letters by using functions that get information you specifically define.
You could store notes on each contact that you have had contact with and call that into the email and letters also.
You could make long-term files and fields or even temporary for tracking contact questions, complaints .. or even copying and pasting quotes from their letters and adding them to fields to include in next unique mail form to them.
But by doing it this way, its my opinion that you can do a lot more with any form of data, especially with contacts.
You can make copies of your database in standard text files like notepad and drop them in to new databases and exchange them so that if your server online ever burns down or goes offline for whatever reason,you could take your copy of that database in a basic notepad file and drop it into a new MySQL database system, and all fields, and data will automatically create exactly as they were on another database.
For getting the most bang for your buck in databases and data - check out PHP computer language and MySQL database. They're a very open ended computer language and database combination that allows you to do almost anything with it. This will free your business up from having to operate within standard functions of online database 'pay sites' .
More examples = run scripts that automatically send out emails or letters on birthdays of your contacts, or run scripts that track the last time a contact was at your business and have it automatically send out a email or inform you of it every X-amount of days or weeks?
That's good for businesses that have to have a lot of contact with customers or contacts and if you stop and wonder = "when's the last time I talked to this guy or that lady?" A secretary could have post-it notes all over the place to do this for you or a script that reads your database , automatically tracks the math of the days elasped and then prompts you to take action. You can make a Main screen dashboard to glance at and check all functions you set up in customization which would be similar to looking at a website if thats how you designed it. If you've ever seen news sites or sites like Yahoo that have dynamic updated information - you could apply that type of technique to your own business i na way that no one else will have access except you or your company. Your personal dashboard or control panel will be clicking and refreshing itself all day and night - reporting back to you everything you wrote scripts and functions for it to do. Automated real-time tracking and reporting of anything you want it to do, and they never forget lol.
Hook your script to a .wav file (audio) if you want and have it alert you on immediate things. So if your script is going through checking database fields and real-time updating information and it comes across something that you want to be immediately notified if such and such occurs.. so it sees it , and then knows that if it sees that its supposed to call a function..it immediately grabs that function and the functions uses your computers sound to play a audio file = <Riing ...Riing> or even a recorded voice that is more specific in detail saying something like = "expired (such and such) requires immediate attention" or maybe even a blinking graphic on your computer appears
there's a whole lot you can do with all of that that surpasses any standards services
Feel free to give myManta from manta.com a try. It's completely free.
- Store company information in lists that you designate.
- Add personal notes and contact information to listings.
- Generate a sales pipeline, or sales forecast, and schedule and record next steps.
- Share your lists with other Manta.com users.
BatchBlue.com offers a product called BatchBook that is great. There are several versions, one of which is free. It's a very flexible system and has a number of advantages over other products.
If any feel like holding off a few days , I'm making a free prog that you can set up on your OWN server.
Then you wont have to rely on the stability, security and credibility of other services.
Dumping all your contact's information onto a website on the Internet , other than your own that you control .. should be seriously investigated because all your contacts are going to be in the view of who ever owns those website services.
Having your own server will allow you to keep personal notes on contacts etc. without a database service team reading through them.
Of course I'm not saying they would.. but, they could if they felt like it since it takes all of 2 seconds to open a database to any user on one of those services and see all the information and notes they've put in there.
Maybe it may sound extreme skepticism..but programmers are taught to assume every vistor to a site is a potential hacker, so that your mind is supposed to consider every possibility. When you hand your sensitive information over to an online service.. you stop at the door and al lyour information goes in with them ..to be handled in any ways they wish, which you would hope is with care. lol
it creeps me out.
If you have a webhost that hosts your website ..you'll be able to run a database dashboard on your own site.
Give me a few days to get it ready so that it can be implemented by those without a lot of prorgramming or database knowledge.
I'm building it to have no outside connections. You can run it on the host of your website or get a webhost and run it on their server. Most webhosts now have PHP/MySQL capability.
I'll have to make s short tutorial on uploading it in a few steps.
what's in it for me? if you like the program then when it comes time to order your business printed materials: booklets, brochures, catalogs, business cards, postcards, posters, etc ...
check out ezprintsolutions.com
i'll get back to this thread.. I'm workin on the tutorials and stuff now ..so it'll be a couple days before it's complete.
I look forward to seeing the application, when you have one. Please share a link with the community so we can learn about your "free prog". Will it be safer than others? How will you prove that?
I think it will be safer because it is built and stored on your OWN server and not relying on the dependability and security of others. As I was mentioning the original question to my husband who is a software engineer by trade, he said the exact same thing as one of the other responders: "build your own and eliminate the need to rely on others."
There is some great benefit to operating applications on your own computers/servers, no question about it. I think the issues start to emerge when users want to access those applications remotely. There is a ton of existing open source (a.k.a. "free") software out there that is very established, and won't drive you crazy on patching or bug detecting/fixing, but patching is a way of life for a production application and not everything is updated as easy as a Windows client.
Most of the business people I run across either don't know how to put it all together (it's just a wee bit more complicated to build a CRM or Contact Management server than installing quickbooks!) or they have the technical skills but lack the time to put it together and maintain it. Keep in mind the hidden costs of doing it yourself - if you want to access your application from outside your office, the minute you expose that server/app to the internet, you are a potential target. Unless you have the time and inclination to stay on top of the security, I would argue that you put yourself at higher risk than with a hosted solution provider.
If you do decide to self-host an application, AND you want to reach it from outside your office, AND you are not adept at network/systems security, consider hiring a reputable IT consultant that can secure you network, your server and application, and revisit you periodically to keep things "secure". This and backing-up your data are probably the two biggest weaknesses I see in small businesses (and even the big guys). There are a lot of options, including establishing a VPN to your office, that enhance security and make it harder for someone to get your confidential data on your servers.
There are a lot of options, and opinions in this area - it's really not an easy decision. Think about the "true" cost of doing it yourself as you evaluate all of these options.
I'm not sure it really is more secure nor am I sure that I really need a server to manage my contacts. I also prefer the idea of working with others who are experts when using the Internet to help manage aspects of my business.
Is it safer and cost-effective to get a server and use a solution like yours? How would you prove that?
Hi , I'm stoppin by to let ya know Im still working on it.
will it be safer? it will be on your own server as someone else pointed out.
Will it be unhackable, uncrackable.. and some super control systems that will be unpenetrable by even aliens ? .. i dont know about that lol
What I'm making is a PHP/MYSQL database system for contacts. You can use it on your own server. there will be no code and no ability for anyone else but you to see whats in your database. It wont be a super security system that Pentagon would like to use..but , the idea is to just allow people to store their contacts on their own server.. with the intention to stop the potential prying eyes from saying= "they sell a lot of products, ..these are their contacts... hmmm"
Im making it as a free program, I obviously wont make any super guarantees about it..it'll be free, it'll work.. and you will be able to have PHP programmers develop off of it to make it bigger, better ..whatever you want..but the core system will work. First I'm making the database part, then over time I might like to add new scripts that you can add on to it. A nidea already would be if you would like to send an email to all your contacts, or if you only want to select specific ones.. that kinda stuff.
If you want, have your programmers go through it, toss it around, try to exploit it..and beef it up if you find anything you think could be better.
Thanks Jerry for the BatchBook mention! BatchBook was built specifically for entrepreneurs and micro-businesses, and we've intentionally made it very easy to use and implement. For $9.95 a month (our Navy Blue option), three users could upload and access an unlimited number of contacts. And our new SuperTags feature allows for customization of fields, which sounds like something you are interested in.
There's a great list of reviews of online CRMs/contact managers, including BatchBook, over at salesteamtools.com: http://www.salesteamtools.com/online-contact-management-software/
BatchBook is reviewed at the top of the list, so you can read an objective review there ;)
Please feel free to email me directly if you have any questions, I'm firstname.lastname@example.org
Good luck with your search, hope this helps!
this thread is turning into a pimp street for Contact Database hosts. :)
It'll get you pointed in the direction of having your own database and interface.
All those peoples that want you to buy theirs ..will be back to argue over the design of it, so that will be interetsing.
add to it, make custom programs for it..do what ever you want.
All the functions work as I just went through it a last time a few minutes ago.
It serves as a working foundat
ional system. It's free.. best part.
I believe it will also work as a good introduction to people that have not had much experience with databases and programs.
BTW, what encryption are those 'pay to use' database contact sites using? Could they be hijacked?
Are they havens for hacker attacks ..since they store mass business info within them?
Follow the Read_Me.txt file for setting it up.
Use it if you want.. dont use it if you dont want to. No guarantees, no claims or big promises. It's just a program I made for businesses that
want to persue having their own contact databases.
If you know anyone that knows PHP - they can read the language pretty easily to see there are no spywares or other crap codes.
If you find anything you believe could make this program better - let me know :)
If you ever need printing for your business - letterhead, brochures, postcards, business cards etc .
check out http://www.ezprintsolutions.com
Could you perhaps post a couple of larger screen shots so that we could view what it looks like? Thanks for all of your hard work setting this up.
Larger screen shot.. sure
Also one thing i noticed is that the URL was changed.
The correct URL is below. that other URL above has a double // . which is odd because i type that URL a thousand times a day and never make that double forward slash. lol who knows maybe it was a typo.
I'm having to work on a lot of things right now ..but when I get a second today I'll try to put up a bigger screen shot.
I put up a couple screen shots for you.
I'm being moderated now and some of my posts not going through.
The two posts above this one with the URL to the database program the URLs have been tampered
I tried to correct that, but the posts were moderated and then never showed up on this board.
I dont know if its just a glitch with the message board software or not? I cant see why my posts about this would be getting blocked or moderated..
so if this post makes it through their moderating glitch, http://www.ezprintsolutions.com/database_
dashboard.php and click the smaller image to open the larger ones.
Im am currently using Streetsmart7 application created by Infostreet. It's not free, but it is definately affordable. They not only have an online contact management system, but other applications as well that can be fully shared. I'm pretty sure this is what you are looking for. It looks like you're only gonna be having 3 users as you mentioned; you, your partner, and your assistant, and using Salesforce for such a small amount of users is in my opinion not worth it, as far as pricing is concerned. They also have an optional CRM application that you can choose to use. Definately wouldn't hurt to check it out, and there is a free demo in where they show you how the applications can be used. Their homepage is www.infostreet.com. Hope it helps you out.
Best of Luck,
- J Arratan
For everyone following this thread I thought I'd mention a new service that just became available - http://jobblogs.cc
"JobBlogs is most readily described as CRM, relationship and
management lite. It serves up a nice, intuitive and quick workspace
which allows for the aggregation of contact information, email and
documents and links and stakeholder comments all in one location. Their
name is a mashup of Job and Blogs - not blogs in the traditional sense
but in the sense of being enablers of two way communication and idea
interactions - service based industries being the most obvious - anyone
that requires daily coordination of a dynamic set of different data
We like and use Infostreet ourselves. Pretty easy to manuever, really accomodating people
(ask for Phil), and really comes in handy when we're out of office. Emails your reminders and everything. Here's a link for a free trial:
In regards to your need for an online contact database, I can help you in a cost affective way.
I would implement a fully-functional web application, that would allow you and your staff to login via intranent or internet and update customer database.
This could be a back end login to your companies website, and the app itself could entail anything that you can envision.
Mike: Hi can you do a web / calander based program scheduler? for school kids and parents to schedule time for first tee program. IE: Tues 9/9/2009 2 pm till 4 pm 8 weeks limit 8 per class
Linkedin is very easy and free - it goes beyond contact database and allows professional networking - can't live without once get used to.
cardscan is another thing i love - costs to buy scanner but comes with online contact data base - best friend for heavy networking person
or if u are a software person, use sugarcrm
We implement and customize Salesforce.com and Microsoft dynamics CRM.
Not sure if you have tried Dynamics CRM. it's online version starts at $19/month.
If all you want is the ability to store, update and retrieve the contacts you have, (whether remote or local), then one of the above is sufficent with a very little customization. Salesforce.com is quite flexible and does the job.
This is a cost effective method, and is useful for low-budget needs.
saageworks has made a great recommendation with highrise by 37 signals, which also makes basecamp for project management. You might also consider sugarcrm, which is an open source clone of salesforce-- but not quite as full-featured. Easy to install if you have moderate programming skills-- perhaps 15 minutes to set up.
internet marketing for small business
Take a look at www.recs4free.com. This will be going live in about a week.
Get back to me if this is what you need. I will be happy to help with the design.
We at e2Mars (www.e2Mars.net) have developed a web based tools to store potential client data. Its a simple too mainly developed for our own internal purpose.
We have several online marketing executives working at different locations so we have had a major requirement of storing all the contacts in a centralized location, so that we can retrieve these contacts as an when required.
There is no limit to the number of people using the web based tool simultaneously. The files and the database can be stored on your website so that any executive could use the tool from anywhere.
This web based tool can also be further customized on demand. This tool could be purchased for USD40.
I would request you to check out the fully working online demo at
I know many ways to create online database, but necessary to know php,sql...at present you don't have a time for this, therefore use http://mytaskhelper.com* is the ease way to create dynamic website.
Steps to create online database:
3)create new project
4)create new form
5)you can add fields to form(You need to know what type of data you will be presenting)
6)Then goto Widget Builder menu, you will see two windows, copy this code and paste to your site(blog, home page, etc.)
7)that's all)), enjoy
You can create online database and use it with team(the users team can edit the database online)
Hope it will help to everyone
I think this is what you are looking for check it out because they are new and trying to get there name out if you decide to join the membership page you will beable to do exactly what you posted.it 5.oo a year for the services. when you join the site you can also view other contacts that have been posted.
I've tried Salesforce and so far it looks closest to what I need, but I can't search it by all the fields I'd like to be able to search.
Windows Office Live seems close, but not as flexible/customizable as Salesforce. And Google Apps doesn't have a Contact Manager (at least not in the free version).
Any suggestions/experiences would be appreciated.