Small Business Saturday: The Power of Google Forms

I haven’t written a Small Business Saturday post in a while and I’d like to get back into it this year – so welcome back! If you haven’t read a SBS from me in the past I tend to cover ways to optimize your small business and cut expenses.

Today I wanted to talk about Google Forms. Many people know about Google Docs and plenty of small and large businesses have embraced it as their way to host and share documents in the cloud. Gone are the days of Microsoft Sharepoint and uploading and downloading Excel files.

I’ve been using Google Docs for years now and absolutely love it – but I haven’t played around with forms much until recently. So what are Google Forms? Google Forms allow you to create simple forms that can be placed on any webpage, when submitted the data will be stored directly in a Google Docs spreadsheet.

google_forms

The above image shows what it looks like when you’re putting together a form. Just like HTML forms you can create text boxes that take-in user responses. Normally to store information submitted from a form you’d have to use PHP and MySQL, however Google Docs can do it all for you and it only takes a few minutes to setup. Of course Google Docs spreadsheets aren’t nearly as robust or powerful as a relational database like MySQL, however for some things it’s more than enough.

Here’s an example of how I use Google Forms in my own business. For each of my sites that I sell direct advertising on I have a different Google Form. Each of these forms takes in the advertiser, the spot they are advertising in, monthly rate, start date, expiration date, and contact info. Google makes it easy to embed this form in any website so I create a hidden page on my site that I can access and enter this information in directly.

What I love about this is that I can easily enter this information directly from my iPhone and not have to worry about opening an excel doc and filling-out a spreadsheet. In the end I have a nice clean spreadsheet for each of my sites with all the info I need. There are tons of great uses for Google Forms and since it’s free you can increase your productivity without spending a dime.

Have a great weekend everyone and welcome back to Small Business Saturday!

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Cedrick February 27, 2011, 1:50 pm

    Hey this is really interesting and can be very helpful for a few projects i am working on – Thanks!

    Reply
  • Kruzon November 7, 2011, 8:12 pm

    Sounds too easy .. My application currently requires 3 forms so there are 3 different ID’s one for each form .. Does the Google form submission create a seperate ID automatically for each form submission. Then does Google speadsheets allow for copying specific columns of the data from each of the spreadsheets to a report or seperate spreadsheet page which effectively becomes a report? Does the google form incorporate their recaptcha spam control? I have created mySql tables via mysqlphpadmin (took only a couple of hours) and its now been 2 days of struggling to create a php form and I still have nothing to show for the time except the original mysql tables!

    Reply

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