You’ve just come up with the greatest idea since sliced bread and now you’re looking to launch. You’ve set up your office, which is filled with boxes of your product ready to move to market, and your order of 5,000 business cards just arrived in the mail. However, outlays are adding up – you didn’t realize how many costs you forgot to factor into your business plan.
Many startups have been in this position. With so many incidental costs involved with running a business, it’s hard to get an accurate picture of all expenses. Many entrepreneurs become frustrated because money they allotted towards more strategic projects is now being used on day-to-day expenses.
If you’re in this situation, there might be some relief – at least with regards to software and applications. There are many software alternatives that are free to download that allow you to successfully cover several bases without spending a dollar. From accounting tools to graphics ones, here are some free programs you should consider downloading for use at your business.
Wave Apps has you covered when it comes to accounting and invoicing. It’s made specifically for use by entrepreneurs, freelance workers, and businesses with less than 10 employees. It’s cloud-based, making it easy to access while you’re on the go and it integrates securely with your bank account or PayPal, providing seamless automation. Recently, Wave Apps was featured in Forbes, Inc., and The New York Times. With half a million users, Wave is worth checking out.
Savings: With QuickBooks Online Essentials costing $26.95 per month, using Wave Apps will save you $970.20 over three years.
A reliable customer relations management (CRM) software is crucial for any small business. And if you’re on a tight budget, consider using Zoho CRM. With more than 25,000 companies using it, Zoho CRM is gaining a reputation as being a viable CRM option. The free version allows for up to three users and 256 MB of storage.
Savings: Salesforce’s CRM cloud app costs $65 per user per month. Based on three users, you’ll save over $7,000 in three years by using Zoho.
Inkscape is a great tool for designing logos, vector images, and other graphics that your business’s marketing department may need. This open source alternative lets users edit nodes, trace bitmaps, and perform advanced path operations among other things.
Savings: Adobe Illustrator in the cloud will set you back $19.99 per month. Using Inkscape in its place will save you more than $700 over three years.
Microsoft Office’s licensing terms can be overwhelming. Why not simplify things by using OpenOffice? It offers interoperability with Microsoft Office, is available in 22 languages, and has been downloaded over 60 million times. The newest version – OpenOffice 4.0 – released in July 2013, provides businesses with easy to use word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, graphics, and database tools.
Savings: Microsoft’s Office 365 Small Business edition has a price tag of $5 per user per month. If three employees use OpenOffice as a replacement, you’ll realize savings of $540 over three years.
Remote Desktop Sharing
Want to share your screen with a client who’s on the other side of the country? Then a remote desktop sharing application is what you need. UltraVNC is an open source software that allows users to share their desktop view and give control to remote users. Aside from facilitating presentations with clients, this tool can also be useful when offsite IT support is needed to troubleshoot any technical issues you might run into.
Savings: Join.Me costs $13 per month per presenter. Based on three users, you’ll save over $1,400 in three years by using UltraVNC.
Sending effective emails and tracking their efficacy can be challenging. For a free email-marketing app, look no further than MailChimp. MailChimp’s drag and drop editor allows users to design attractive and customizable emails. The program is also mobile friendly, free to download for iOS and Android devices. What’s more, you’ll receive free analytics that will help you keep tabs on the effectiveness of your email marketing campaign – click rate, open rate, trends monitoring, interactive graphs, and more will help you track your performance. All this is free if you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers and need to send up to 12,000 emails per month. And with over 3 million users, it’s worth looking into MailChimp.
Savings: For 2,500 subscribers, iContact charges $29 per month. That adds up to over $1,000 of savings over three years if you use MailChimp.
Do you have any other free software programs to recommend? Let us know below or send us a tweet!