As a small business owner, you do not have to upset your budget investing in expensive tools for your business. The truth is that there are myriad free tools that you can and should me making use of to make your business more profitable. Here are the top 25 free online tools that you will require in your day-to-day operations:
1. Google Apps and Google Drive
Google Apps is a combination of various cloud-based applications/services that help you to manage your documents, events, appointments, collaborate, and store information efficiently. Some of the essential Google Apps for business include Google Calendar and Google Docs. You can also make use of the large and versatile storage tool, Google Drive that offers you up to 5GB free storage space. Google Drive, like other cloud storage facilities, allows you to store files and documents that you can access from any computer anywhere in the world. Others who have access to these documents and files can also access them and collaborate with you. Use Google Drive to share large files too.
Dropbox is one of the most effective and popular free online storage tools. As a small business owner, you typically have various documents that you need to access frequently. Dropbox allows you to safely store all your documents online. If your files and documents are stored in different devices, Dropbox lets you create a link between these devices. All you need is to create a quick account and you can get started storing and sharing your large documents, files, and images that can be accessed from any computer or connected device anywhere. In addition to being a store and collaborative tool, Dropbox can also help you organize your documents into different folders that you can access easily.
3. Mail Chimp
Email marketing is an important aspect of small business marketing. It is a great way of interacting with your customers, creating buzz, and generating traffic to your business. MailChimp is an easy to use tool that enables you to design attractive newsletters using the different templates available. In addition to facilitating the creation of newsletters, MailChimp allows you to distribute your newsletters to your contact list. This means that in just a short while, you can create an appealing newsletter with all the relevant information and blast it to recipients who matter the most. The best part is that you do not require any design or technical skills to start creating and distributing professional newsletters.
LinkedIn has grown into one of the largest online platforms for sourcing skilled people who can make significant contributions to your business. By creating a free account, you can start networking with professionals, scanning through resumes and exchanging ideas with other professionals in your niche, all over the world. If you are looking for an affordable and effective way of recruiting, LinkedIn is the tool to use. You will also have access to other facilities such as LinkedIn Groups in your niche, which you can join to really connect with like-minded members. You may also make use of LinkedIn Answers, which allows you to ask questions and receive comprehensive answers from qualified experts all for free.
While proper accounting is a crucial aspect of business, it can take up so much time and often requires expertise. But if you do not have a budget to hire an accountant, you can use free accounting tools such as Wave to streamline different financial aspects of your small business. Wave lets you create and distribute invoices, reports, keep track of your expenses, and link your online banking platforms with your credit cards. This application also offers free customer supports, backs-up your files, and updates your transactions automatically. Wave is specifically designed for small business owners who do not have accounting expertise, so you can easily operate this application and save time spent on manual accounting.
6. Survey Monkey
One of the best ways of interacting with your customers and keeping perspective of your business is to conduct surveys. However, business surveys do not have to be costly. A tool such as Survey Monkey lets you create professional surveys, set questions that are relevant to your audience and use previous feedback to develop new surveys. Survey Monkey further enables you to distribute your surveys to your customers through various channels including social media and email. There is both the free and paid version; the free version offers you access to 10 questions and up to 100 feedbacks for each survey. The free version will come in handy if you are carrying out smaller surveys. Nevertheless, for a small monthly fee, you can use the premium service that offers you more control over your surveys.
Square is an application that allows you to accept credit card payments on the go. This application, which comes with a small physical card reader, works on both Androids and iPhones. There is no monthly fee and no merchant paper work to fill up. All you need to do is to download the Square app, sign up for the free card reader, link to your bank account and start accepting payments. When a customer pays you, the amount is automatically deposited to your bank account in 2 working days. Other great features include a business profile on the Square app directory where potential customers can locate you easily and an easy to use dashboard that allows you to manage your business on the web.
Doodle is one of the most popular online tools that allow you to schedule meetings and appointments with clients. Once you register, you will gain access to your online calendar where you key in events, appointments, and meetings. You can easily answer requests for meetings directly from the calendar. Doodle further allows you to inform your clients and anyone else who wants to meet you when it is a good time to meet and how they can contact you at any given time. The best part is that Doodle works well on mobile so you can keep track of polls, events, meetings, and appointments on the go.
Your small business requires a proper platform on which to set up a functional website or blog. WordPress is a free website management tool that enables you to customize the design, feel, and look of your website without requiring to software such as DreamWeaver. Even if you are not a programming wizard, you can easily use WordPress for your website and blog without hiring an expert. When you power your website with WordPress, you remove all efforts spent on managing a functional website for your business.
Business to business networking is essential for the growth of any small business. However, it is not always easy to go looking for information about other companies or businesses that you can collaborate with. It is simply time consuming. However, Spoke makes it easy for small businesses to find information about other companies from a single database. Spoke works as a crowd-sourced tool, which depends on the contribution of other users to create a comprehensive database that incorporates as many companies as possible. Next time you want to find a company and relevant information about it or a business professional in your niche, just head over to Spoke to find this information. Just be sure to contribute to the database if you have something interesting about a company or a businessperson that may be helpful to the rest of the users.
What better way to lower business communication costs than to make use of free faxing services? FaxZero allows you to send two free faxes each three pages long every day. You can send faxes in different formats including DOCx, DOC, and PDF. Small business owners using this service have sent more than 5 million faxes to date. If your faxing needs increase, you can pay as little as $1.99 for each extra fax you send for businesses based in North America. It is possible to send international fax at a small fee.
12. Startup Addicts
Small businesses are often strapped for cash. Crowdfunding has become one of the best ways for entrepreneurs to source for funds for their businesses. Startup Addicts is a great crowdfunding tool that is free to join, irrespective of your niche. If your business is based on a great and creative idea and you are looking for more funds to keep it running, then Startup Addicts can be a good place to start. If you reach your funding goals and receive the funding amount you needed, Startup Addicts will take just 5% of that amount. If you do not attain your goal, they do not take anything from the funds you receive.
13. Google News and Google Alerts
As a small business owner, it is important to stay updated with the latest news that may be of interest to your business. Google News is one of the most popular online tools that aggregates news from different sources and on different topics and allows you to access this content on a single interface. All you have to do is to determine the news category that you want to view and Google News will aggregate this for you all thorough out the day.
Twitter is an indispensable tool for small businesses (big businesses are in fact using Twitter successfully). As a popular social networking tool, Twitter lets you share information about your business with your followers, it allows you to stay abreast with news that is relevant to your business/niche and it offers a robust platform for engaging with your customers and other like-minded people. You can use Twitter as s channel for communicating relevant information, setting yourself as a niche expert and as a tool that helps you find information easily. It is simple and free to set up a Twitter account for your business.
Facebook is arguably the most popular social networking site. According to Facebook, more than one billion people comment and like things that they come across on the site. Your customers, potential clients, and professionals whom you can network with are most likely using Facebook. Using Facebook for business can give your company great exposure, it can encourage word of mouth marketing and it offers a platform where you can have conversations with your clients and potential customers. Facebook also offers small businesses affordable advertising space coupled with great exposure to a targeted audience. Something else your business can do with Facebook is hosting events, contest, offers, and giveaways.
Alexa is a free online toolbar that offers you information about the ranking of your website and that of your competitors. With Alexa you can find out the performance of your site, the number of links pointing to your site, the number of site visitors and other statistical information that pertains to your website. To have a competitive business with an online presence, you require relevant information that will help you build a more competitive website that helps to market your business effectively. This is what Alexa offers you. Alexa is compatible with all major browsers.
Twiddla is an innovative tool for brainstorming. It allows you to mark important websites, photos, and information on the web that you can refer to later. It also introduces a new function known as co-browsing where you and your teammates can browse websites together in spite of your geographical location. You can also use Twiddla to chat, use virtual brainstorming whiteboards, and share files in real time. The best thing about this collaborative tool is that it does not require downloading, plugins or signing up for an account. Your teammates or anyone that you are collaborating with does not have to sign up or login to get started using this tool.
18. Free Conference Calling
Teleconferencing is a modern business communication tool. It is not necessary to invest too much on teleconferencing infrastructure or tools when you can host online meetings with free tools. The Free Conference Calling is a free service that allows small businesses to organize and host online meetings from anywhere in the world. All you need to get started is your name and an email address. You will then access code numbers for different countries in the world, links that you can send your audience to participate in the meeting and a meeting ID. You do not have to reserve a teleconferencing line because the lines are available 24/7. With Free Conference Calling, you can host up 96 participants for 6 hours at a time.
Evernote is a free and popular organizational and productivity tool for small business owners. Evernote lets you create a folder where you can store contacts who are essential to your business. You can also use personalized keywords to help you recall anything that you store. In addition to keeping track of your contacts, you can also use Evernote to create short notes that you can refer to later. This tool lets you capture pictures of handwritten material; you can record meetings in video and audio form and store these for later reference.
20. Google Plus
Google Plus is Google’s social media network. This free tool lets you connect with your clients, potential customers, and business professionals with shared interests on the network. To get started, you need to create a Google account, add your profile, and establish Google plus Authorship to add credibility to the content you publish on your Google Plus account and on your website. Overall, Google Plus can help generate traffic for your website, increase brand awareness, keep you in touch with influential people in your niche, and allow you to establish yourself as an industry leader by making your content visible at the Google search engine.
21. Google Adwords
Google Adwords is Google’s pay per click search and advertising model. While there are many such advertising models, Adwords is the most popular, accounting for more than 15% of the online advertising market. As a pay per click advertising program, Google Adwords offers small businesses an affordable opportunity to advertise their services online to a targeted audience. This advertising model lets you bid on certain relevant keywords that match your business. You can also bid on the amount that you can afford to pay per click. It is free to sign up to Google Adwords. The benefits of using this tool include increased online visibility, increased sales, and increased click through rates to your web pages.
YouTube is arguably the most widely used video streaming social network. Small businesses can use YouTube to create video content for their marketing campaigns. You can also create a branded channel that not only increases brand awareness but also lets you share branded content, promote your products, host competitions, and advertise your businesses on some of the popular and related videos on YouTube. When done right, YouTube can give your business exposure in terms of millions of viewers.
23. Google Trends
Content marketing is important for small businesses. It establishes you as an industry leaders and the go-to person for solutions in your niche. Content distribution also enables you to market your business and increase visibility online. Google Trends is a great tool that keeps you informed about what people across the world are searching for the most. Google Trends allows you to understand web user behaviour so you can create and distribute content that is relevant to these users. This tool enables you to streamline your content marketing and distribution strategy with popular search trends. This is a great way of reaching out to targeted audience and generating targeted traffic to your site.
Social media management is an inevitable aspect of modern businesses. Yet, small business owners do not always have adequate time and resources to effectively manage their social media profiles and to distribute content across these channels. Dlvr.It is a free tool that allows you to keep your social media profile up to date with relevant content. It automatically schedules and distributes posts through Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and LinkedIn. To create an account, all you need is an email address. With Dlvr.it you can keep track of fans and followers and keep them following you by automatically posting interesting content for them across the social networks.
25. Help A Reporter (HARO)
All small businesses need positive exposure so potential clients can know more about your business. While creating and sending press releases can be effective, being covered by local or international reporters can be a major boost for your business. This is the type of opportunity that Help a Reporter (HARO) offers small business. Just head over to their website www.helpareporter.com and look through the various opportunities by reporters who are looking for niche related information and quotes from business professional like you. If they like your story, you get coverage.