Nearly every small business is restricted for the first year or two by a tight budget. For the business to survive the first year, the business owner will need to cut a few corners to keep their spending in-check and maximize profits. Most cut backs end up with the owner and employees feeling the pitch. If you choose freeware or free services instead of the pricey alternatives, it will be business as usual. From word processing to phone services, small businesses can take advantage of the large variety of applications. Most freeware or free services have the same qualities as their costly cousins.
Open Office is exceedingly similar to the expensive Microsoft Office suite. It contains a word processing document, spreadsheet, database, presentation, an advanced math calculator, and drawing application in their suite. The word processing document, similar to Microsoft Word, includes all the frequently used tools of the expensive version, such as font, size, bullet points, grammar and spell checker, word count, header/footer and autocorrect. Best of all, this software suite is free. Businesses can use it to keep a list of clients, create presentations, make memos and a two dozen other daily tasks.
Think of Dropbox as a portable storage container for your videos, documents, and photos. Whenever you save a document on one computer, Dropbox allows you to access it on all your other computers. This can be extremely useful when making a presentation or switching from your home office to your work office. It eliminates the need for flash drives.
FreeMind creates mind maps; mind maps are similar to the maps you use to create family trees except it has one central idea with many branches. It’s useful when you need to think creatively or map out a project.
Outright is an accounting software suspended in the cloud, which enables business owners to access their financials from anywhere with an Internet-enabled device. This service automates your accounting tasks and puts all your information in one place. It even pulls information from online marketplaces, like EBay. The software works on both Macs and PCs. It’s particularly useful at tax time.
GIMP, a freeware equivalent of photoshop, transforms photos and images. It has several features and the site hosts several tutorials on using the software for beginners or experts at photo manipulation. Small businesses can use this software to create unique images and edit existing photos for advertising campaigns.
Skype, a voice-over-Internet-phone (VOIP) communication service, offers a variety of levels, including a free one. The free account allows small businesses to make computer-to-computer phone or video calls, share screens and instant message.
Newsletters are a great way to market small businesses and MailChimp assists in sending the e-newsletters. This service allows small businesses to send up to 12,000 emails to up to 2,000 subscribers a month. You will have to write the e-newsletter; MailChimp basically just sends it for you to a group of people at once. MailChimp has other features that make sending your newsletter a breeze. Some features, like delayed sending, are reserved for their Plus level.
Freeware and free online services can make the first year or two easier for small business owners. If fact, the free software is so similar to the paid versions, you probably won’t even go back once the penny-pinching day are over. What free software or services do you use?