These days many of the best tools available for small businesses are actually entirely free. This is thanks to the web and thanks to new business models that allow companies to make money from advertising and other means rather than having to rely on direct sales. For small start-ups and entrepreneurs this is great news as it puts force multipliers in their hands without breaking the bank, allowing them to compete with larger companies even if they don’t have the same resources.
The only trouble traditionally has been finding them, which is why we’re going to look at some of the very best free tools for you to use right here.
Google Drive/Google Docs
Google Drive is a fantastic free tool that many companies are only just starting to take full advantage of. This is a platform that offers cloud hosting, but beyond that also offers you a full suite of productivity programs through Google Docs allowing you to create and edit spreadsheets, presentations and word documents. That means you can create a collaborative article right on the cloud and then store it there for members of your team to download, or use the spreadsheets to manage your contacts or accounting. Spreadsheet software can actually do a whole host of things and if you’re savvy with it then you can actually save money on a whole host of other software packages.
Another very powerful online tool that works on the cloud is Evernote. This is a piece of software that lets you take notes either handwritten or with the camera, and then store them on the cloud in a manner that makes them easy to retrieve as and when you need them. Particularly useful is the OCR (optical character recognition) that allows you to search photographs and hand-written notes in real time as though they were text files. Combined with a smartphone this is a great way to take notes and file documents. It also works great with a scanner if you want to make your office truly paperless.
WordPress is still one of the very best content management solutions on the web. More than that it’s also a great tool for creating good-looking web designs without needing to know lots of HTML and CSS to make them happen. It’s also great for SEO and makes it easy to find a host of other useful free tools through the plugins.
IFTTT is a slightly less well-known tool you can use to manage your online accounts and social media. It stands for ‘If This, Then That’, and essentially it lets you set up connections between different online accounts. For instance this might mean you get an e-mail every time that someone
Similar is HootSuite: an online app that lets you manage multiple social media accounts all from a single address saving you time and effort when taking care of your social media campaigns. Get a free 30 Day Trial of HootSuite Pro
Every company will need to do a little design work, even if they’re purely B2B; whether that’s for fliers, for a website or for letter heads. GIMP is a free piece of software that does essentially everything that Photoshop does… only completely for free.
Open Office is to Microsoft Office what GIMP is to Photoshop. It’s not quite as feature rich as MS’ flagship product, but it’s still enough to do what you need if you don’t want to pay Microsoft for a subscription.
FileZilla is a no-frills FTP program that does everything you need it to allowing you to easily manage files hosted on a server. Essential for managing a website, but also for storing files on the cloud and a range of other uses.
So there you go, a bunch of the very best tools your company can start using completely for free. There are many more out there if you’re willing to shop around, but this is a great start that will boost your productivity without costing you dime!
Written by Greg Fisher; founder of Berkeley Sourcing Group. Greg started BSG eight years ago after realizing the need for efficient processes and coordination between manufacturing firms located in the United States and factories in China. Image courtesy erix!