What Is Gmail and How Can It Be Used in Home Business

Why Gmail Offers a Great Home Business Email Solution

Gmail Overview and Info
Gmail offers great tools for home business owners. Credit: mvdc | Getty Images

Gmail is Google's free web-based email service, similar to Yahoo Mail or Hotmail. In the past, having a free account made home businesses look unprofessional, but Gmail is different. It's why many entrepreneurs have switched or include Gmail as one of their email providers. 

Gmail features include:

  • Very good spam filtering and virus protection
  • Lots of free mail storage (over 15 GB as of this writing)
  • Access to email via mobile devices
  • Built-in chat capabilities
  • Customizable tabs to help you organize your email inbox
  • Themes to change the look of Gmail
  • Video calls
  • Ability to view attachments within the email (as opposed to downloading)
  • Ability to send  money

The free version of Gmail is ad-supported using ads that appear on the right and not in your email, making them very unobtrusive.

The free version works great, but if you want some extra perks and no ads, you can use a paid business version of Gmail that offers more storage, integration with other email (i.e. MS Outlook), 24/7 phone and email support, 99.9% uptime, plus you can create a personal email (i.e. joe@mybusiness.com). Google offers two paid plans, one for $5 and one for $10 per month.

You don't need a Google account in order to set up Gmail. In fact, Gmail sign up requires just a valid existing email address and agreement to Google's terms and conditions.

Then you can use your Gmail account to log into to other Google online services, such as AdSense, AdWords or Google Search Console (formally Webmaster Tools), Blogger, Youtube, Google+, and all other Google properties.

How Gmail can Help the Home Business Owner

There are many great features and add-ons you can use to make Gmail a tool in your home business.

Some include:

  1. Create folders to organize and store email. For example, you can create a folder for each client or each email newsletter you receive. 
  2. Label email to sort and organize even more. 
  3. Colored stars to organize even more. You can choose which and how many stars you want available.
  4. Customize Gmail tabs to organize your inbox. This helps you divide personal email from business. Or commercial email (i.e. coupons from your favorite retailers) from your regular inbox. 
  5. Manage multiple emails from one spot, including pop-3 email accounts. This allows you to check and respond to email from one place. 

Plus, there are a host of add-ons you can use to make Gmail work best for you. Here are a few things you can find in Gmail Labs to add to your Gmail:

  • Authentication icon for verified senders will help protect you from phishing scams by verifying emails. For example, if you get a message from PayPal, the add-on will let you know if it's really from PayPal or a fake. 
  • Multiple signature lines. Using Canned Responses, you can have different signature lines. For example, you may not have any sig line for personal email, but want one in your business exchanges. You can pick and choose, which, if any, sig lines are used. 
  • Set up multiple inboxes. I'm an out-of-sight-out-of-mind person, so even the tabs option doesn't work well for me. Instead, I have multiple inboxes all together on one page. On the left is my all-email inbox, and on the right are email in-boxes I set up for "To Do," and "To Read,"  (you can set up your inboxes for anything, such as "Client Email"). I use the Stars feature to designate which inbox an email should go to. Once tagged with a star, I hit the "Archive" button and the email (you may need to refresh the page) moves out of my all-email box over to the other inbox. Here's an article at PC Mag that tells you how to set this up. You need to use the Multiple Inboxes from Gmail Labs.

To access the Labs, click on the gear icon at the top right of your Gmail account, and then on Settings. You'll see a host of options across the top including Labels, Inbox, Themes etc.

You'll also see Labs, which you'll click. Enabled labs and those you can enable are listed. Labs are Gmail's testing ground for cool features, so some options may come and go.