Setting up and running your own start up or SME can be a cash thirsty process, with a slew of expenses that can test the robustness of your working capital to it’s limit. The last thing small businesses need are additional software expenses on IT, communications and accounts.
Fortunately, when you investigate the options with a little bit more scrutiny you’re likely to discover a good range of “freemium” software solutions for just about every need you could think of. Here are some useful, free web based tools for the cash strapped startup – some are completely free, while others offer a mix of zero cost and paid options:
Alternatives To MS Office – Google Docs allows you to create and share documents, and collaborate on projects without paying a penny. Google docs is a zero cost web based office application offering support for common Microsoft extensions including .xls and .doc among many more. If you don’t need all the bells and whistles that MS Office comes with, this is a perfect and free replacement. Another good free alternative is Open Office.
Customer Support – There’s no need to fork out vapid sums of money for customer support software, when small companies can get all they need for free over at Desk.com. You can use the basic free option to offer customer service on email, Facebook, Twitter, phone and chat.
Content Management Systems (CMS) – WordPress has become one of the most popular CMS systems around, and is now being used by small, medium and large firms alike. It’s very easy to use, and adding extra functionality via plugins is childsplay – download the apps you want your website to have (many of them also free), login to the admin panel, upload the zip file app and you’re ready to go.
Accounting Software – Xero is free to use and try pretty much till you decide you need to upgrade. There are many paid accounting software solutions out there, but if you have an inherently simple business this piece of kit will work just fine without sapping up your spare cash.
Communications -It’s good to talk. It’s even better when it’s free. Skype has been a darling for talkative SME CEO’s and their teams for years now.
Antivirus – One of the most reliable free offerings for antivirus is AVG – the basic version of the software is free to use and does a pretty good job in protecting your computer against viruses. Malware Bytes is also a good free option for protecting against and removing Malware.
Market Research – Survey Monkey can be a useful way to create surveys and get answers for research you may want to do relating to your product launches/feedback on products and so on.
Email Replacement For Microsoft – Mozilla’s Thunderbird software doesn’t cost you a thing and has some nice advanced features that will do a good job of organizing your emails.
The above freemium collection provide a powerful and zero cost alternative to mainstream premium business software – using them all could in fact save a small business several thousands over the course of the year.