Starting a business is expensive. You’ve got to build a website, hire a branding pro, and buy a bunch of really sweet software to get your operation running smoothly. You might also need office space, supplies, and definitely a bean bag chair. And if you are like most new entrepreneurs, you’re probably panicking just reading this? Well, don’t despair, my fellow entrepreneurial friend because, in this blog post, we’re going to give you a list of business tools that won’t cost you a dime.
1. Google Docs
Despite what you’ve been told, you do not need to spend hundreds of dollars on fancy office suite software. Google gives you everything for FREE. I’m talking documents, spreadsheets, slide presentations, and forms. Which means you can run almost every area of your business using just the Google suite. The best part is you can access all your files from anywhere and on any device. So you’ll never be without your important documents.
It’s time to get organized. Once you start a business, you learn that your head, napkins, and random scraps of notebook paper no longer cut it for keeping track of projects and to-do lists. This is why I love Trello. Trello is a project management tool that allows you to set up all your tasks and to-do lists in one neatly organized website, accessible from any device. With Trello’s free plan, you get unlimited boards, lists, cards, members, checklists, and attachments.
Now that you’ve got Google Docs and Trello set up, let me introduce you to my productivity-boosting friend, Zapier. Zapier is an online tool that allows you to connect two separate apps. For example, you could set up a ‘zap’ that would create a new Trello card each time you created a new Google Doc. Or you could do something more advanced like send an automated response email anytime someone signed up for a webinar on your site. (Psst..if you need more ideas, check out this blog post.)With Zapier’s free plan, you can set up to 5 zaps.
If you are just starting to build out your email list, then you absolutely want to check out Mailchimp. Not only is this one of the most popular email service providers on the internet, but they give you a free account until you get 2,000 subscribers. Now you won’t have to pay to send emails until you actually have a decent-sized list. Mailchimp has dozens of pre-designed templates that make creating your very first newsletter or prospect email a breeze.
Whether you are writing an email, creating Facebook ads, or brochures for your business, you’re going to need stock photos. Just in case you didn’t know this already, you cannot take an image you found on Google search and use it for your business. Yea, apparently it’s “illegal” and called “copyright infringement.” Because we don’t want you to end up behind bars, we are going to share our favorite free stock photo resource: Pexels. Pexels has thousands of beautiful, royalty-free images that you can use for all aspects of your business.
Once you have the images, you’re going to want to make edits to them. Luckily for you, Canva is a free online photo editing tool that let you create branded and personalized graphics for your newsletters, brochures, and social media posts. Edit your own images or choose from Canva’s library of images (some of which you have to pay for, but a good portion are free). Quickly download all your masterpieces to your computer and use them for your print and digital marketing campaigns.
Seeing that you now have some sweet looking social media graphics, you’ll want to use a tool like Buffer to schedule them across your various accounts. When running a business, you don’t have time to actually sit down and post to your social media accounts (or to sit down at all), which is why it’s a good idea to automate those tasks with Buffer.
On the free plan, Buffer will allow you to schedule up to 10 posts to 3 different social media accounts. You’ll be able to schedule all your social media posts for the week in just a few minutes!
Not to length shame, but long URLs are ugly. Yeah, I said it. Increase clickability by using personalized, shortened links from Bit.ly. These conversion-inducing links will also give you stats on your link, like, the number of clicks. It takes the guesswork out of marketing.
Ready to send out your first invoice and want to look like a true professional? Then head on over to Wave, an online invoicing software program. Wave lets you create and send professional-looking invoices to your clients’ inbox. You can even keep track of who’s paid and who hasn’t so you can send “reminders” if you need to.
If you run an online business, you’re going to need to set up virtual meetings with your clients (unless you have the cash to fly around the country for coffee dates). UberConference allows you to set up online meetings anytime. Their free plan allows you to set up 45-minute calls with up to 10 people at a time. During that meeting, you can share your screen and record with HD quality sound and video.
Show and tell
Now that you’ve seen our favorite free business tools, we’d love to hear which ones you love! Leave us a comment below!