Looking to make some trims to your operational budget? Just getting started and need business solutions that won’t break the bank? There are a lot of bills that are unavoidable – utilities, suppliers, etc. – but today’s digital environment connects small business owners with a variety of products that can help them run their business without adding to their bills.
Cut your costs by checking out these eight free business services.
Doc Storage – Google Drive
Google may be synonymous with search engine, but the company provides a plethora of other services, many for free. Google Drive is a cloud service provided by Google, but for small businesses, it also represents a way to create and store documents.
With up to 15 GB of free storage space and access to Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides (equivalent to Microsoft Word, Excel, and Power Point respectively), Google Drive can easily be a one stop shop — free, of course – for sole proprietors, freelancers, and small business owners. And, even though it’s certainly possible to eventually meet your 15 GB limit, Google Drive offers a 100 GB for only $1.99.
Online Security – Avast
Today, any business with a digital presence needs to consider the security of their assets, and though there are many ways to achieve end point protection, not all of them are free of cost. Avast, which is recommended by PC magazine, has a free and paid service. As you likely expect, the free service does limit features. While the free antivirus software version doesn’t offer a firewall or data shredding, you will still have access to security scanning, malware blocking and rescue disk functionality.
Finance & Accounting – GnuCash
Though it may not be the prettiest app around, GnuCash is an excellent option for small businesses that want to manage their books for free. The service provides great online documentation and is easy to use and navigate. Users can attach files to transactions; export reports in PDF format; and track bank accounts, income, expenses, and even stocks.
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Advice & Mentoring – SCORE
Sometimes a little advice can go a long way, but in many cases, consultants and similar information resources can cost you. The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is a free business resource that offers owners mentoring and education. Composed of over 10,000 volunteers, SCORE is an SBA resource partner that connects entrepreneurs with seasoned experts. Users can sign up and select from a variety of business types to be connected to a knowledgeable business mentor from one of the 300 chapters within the SCORE community.
Conference Services – FreeConferenceCall
There is a plethora of free conferencing services, but many of them have limits. For example, Skype conference calling is free for all those who have a Skype account, but if you need to connect with one or more people who don’t, you’ll need to use Skype credit or have a subscription.
FreeConferenceCall.com offers free access to audio conference, video conference, recording, screen sharing, and global access, plus some other neat features like a calendar, chat feature, and a radio feature (stream conferences live over the internet). The service does have a few paid perks, like custom greetings or a toll-free number to use, but small business owners should be able to make it pretty far on the free offerings.
Sending Emails – MailChimp
If you have a relatively small subscriber list and plan on sending less than 12,000 email a month, you can use MailChimp for free (they don’t even require a credit card). Those using the “Forever Free” tier will have access to a variety of features including A/B testing, reports, a plethora of design options (email templates, Facebook add campaigns, landing pages, etc.) and delivery features (abandoned car, marketing automation, geolocation, etc.).
There are a few perks to paying for the service, like chat and email support, advanced segmentation, comparative reports, etc., but if you’re looking for a simple way to get started – one with the ability to scale up as needed – then MailChimp’s Forever Free plan is a good option.
SEO – Wordtracker
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and keyword research is an important part of marketing, but hiring an agency or a dedicated marketing staff can be pricey for small businesses, and though many tools exist, most are paid. Wordtracker allows users to access thousands of long tail keywords and to to filter results and export keyword lists.
Those that want to take their SEO efforts to the next level do have the ability to upgrade their service, which unlocks additional features, and can always try the upgrade services for free for seven days
Brand Awareness – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
Thanks to the plethora of social media platforms out there, you can market your business and connect with potential clients and customers without spending a penny. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and a variety of other social media apps are the perfect place to grab exposure without the huge marketing bill.
If you don’t have time or staff to run multiple accounts, pick the ones that are most likely to appeal to your audience, like LinkedIn for professionals and Facebook for businesses that want to gain the most exposure regardless of demographic. If you have a younger audience, consider Instagram or SnapChat.
These platforms do offer paid marketing perks, but if you put the effort in, your brand can gain traction without a big budget.
Running a small business often comes with long list of expenses, but if you really want to keep your budget tight and minimize spend, then there are plenty of business services available for free. From marketing tools to document management and storage services, small business owners who don’t mind doing a little leg work can unlock big savings from the comfort of their own computer.
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