Online Freebies That All Small Businesses Should Try
If you’re a small business starting to put up an online presence, fret not of the costs and technical brouhaha. In most instances, you can get a lot of free online business tools . Think of the Internet as the grocery where you can get samplers and coupons that you can collect and enjoy discounts, even not pay for anything at all.
The caveat is free can mean compromised or limited quality; but in our years in the Internet business, we’ve seen tools that truly deliver whether you upgrade or not. Of course as the title implies, free tools often work only if you’re starting up with the basic online requirements. Here are some of these great finds:
These are websites that showcase your products or services online, nothing more. The idea is that your customers can find you, know more about what you sell, and contact you for more details. The most complicated function of these types of sites is the contact information form that accepts customers’ information and delivers them to your assigned email address. Wix is a darling to date of free website builders. It makes coding an html5 website like putting together a basic puzzle. Here are some more free website builders for your picking.
Why it’s free: You can use their tool and template to build your design, but your url address is shared with other free websites. If you want to register your own url (domain)—it is advised that you do as you get more customers from your online site—website builders will charge for hosting or linking to your domain. Meantime, the free website can start your business off the digital ground.
E-mail marketing is still one of the most effective ways to get customers. A simple text message pitching your product or service or sharing a testimonial may seal the deal. A mailer software helps you organize your automated email messages to those who subscribe to your site and funnel the replies to further email messages until some of your subscribers convert to customers. Mail Chimp is free for up to 2,000 subscribers. Top Ten Reviews also reviews some of the top mailer providers.
Why it’s free: The free stuff usually extends to a minimum number of subscribers. But mail providers expect that over time you’ll get more subscribers, and by then you will need to pay to continue using the mail software. Meantime, you can practice crafting your messages and study the replies while using the free mailer.
Free project management tool
No matter how small your staff is now you’ll need an organized way to check on their respective progress so things are done on schedule. While MS Excel, MS Project and MS One Note make tracking task schedules easy, using them online can be limiting and they tend to have more bells and whistles that you care to use. There are more efficient and simplified project management tools online that allow team collaboration or one-to-one conversations. Podio offers its software for free if you only have five employees, tops. But there are other free project management software around and Gizmo’s has reviewed some of these based on simplicity and ease of use.
Why it’s free: The freebie is often for a small band of employees or a trial version. Project management tool providers hope your company will get bigger and get more employees. That’s the time when they charge you with a monthly or yearly fee.
Free accounting tools
If your accounting needs remain at most basic—income vs. expense, balance sheet, income statements, and simple report generation—then you can get some really good accounting software for free. Tech Radar reviews some of these software that don’t demand much for an upgrade. Of course you can always count on MS Excel, but truth be told, it requires an advance knowledge to configure its features. The freebie apps are a lot simpler, and should you need a more complex processing, you can always go for an upgrade.
Why it’s free: As your business grows, so do your accounting needs. Apps developers rely on this and are ready to charge you once you need an upgrade.
Free e-books and webinars on entrepreneurship
As a budding entrepreneur, you may need some push and help on how to do things. The Company offers a slew of free webinars from raising capital tips to tax deductions. Some of the webinars are on schedule—you need to register—but some are recorded so you can replay them for reference. Biz Launch offers webinars mostly about the Internet with topics ranging from website development to social networking.
You can also get free e-books about entrepreneurship or personal finance in this list by Start Up Remarkable. The authors are big shots in their fields, such as Seth Godin, 37 Signals of Basecamp, and Brian Clark of Copyblogger. The free e-book is in pdf format.
Getting started in online should not be a big problem for your small business. The freebies are out there; it’s just a matter of knowing where to look for. One more advice though—never live off on freebies. Just use them to learn about their functions and importance to your operations, and once your business grows, you’ll be more confident and flexible to pay for what you really need.