Free tools are vital to the success of any small business. The current growth in free applications and software continues to benefit all businesses. Choosing a few of these tools was a real challenge. These applications assist small business owners with common issues such as web publishing, storage, document creation and editing, communications, marketing and scheduling.
Wordpress and Blogger are the top two online blogging tools which can also be used to create and manage fully funcitoning websites rather easily. If you are looking for an external solution your costs will increase exponentially. Use Google to find great walk-throughs for these free straightforward website solutions.
Dropbox is a storage system (2GB free) for storing files across multiple computers with ease. It allows the user to drop a file in to an internet folder which can be accessed by other computers or even your iPhone/ Blackberry. Dropbox also allows you to invite people to view private files or host files in a public folder accessible to anyone who knows the address. This is great for working with clients or transferring files among a group of people.
Google Docs is a free, web-based word processor, spreadsheet, presentation and form application offered by Google. Google Docs allows free storage of up to 1GB of data. Google Docs is also a collaborative tool for editing in real time. Documents can be shared, opened, and edited by multiple users at the same time.
Open Office is an offline alternative to Google Docs or Microsoft Office. It is available for Mac OS X, Windows, Linux and most other operating systems. Open Office is free to download and easy to install.
Hootsuite allows a user to measure, monitor and post to social media like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn all from one easy to use dashboard. There is a learning curve when using this incredible free dashboard so watch the short tutorial videos. Social media can be utilized to enhance customer engagement and communications, both internally and externally.
Mail Chimp allows the user to send out 3000 electronic mail outs per month or free for up to 500 subscribers. For a small business an email list is essential but keeping those people engaged and up-to-date with your business is even more important.
Doodle is an easy to use scheduling software. It's great for scheduling meetings. It's hard to explain how easy it makes things until you try it so just click the link above and test out Doodle.
It is important to consider free tools when managing your business.
Originally published in the Vancouver Board of Trade's Sounding Board Magazine.