Making your new business successful is tough - hard work, long hours, passion and commitment are the bare minimum required.
There are plenty of tools out there that claim to ease some of the cost, stress and time pressure on entrepreneurs and small business owners. We’ve pulled together 20 of the best free online tools to take some of the strain as you build your brand.
Groove is designed to help you manage your customer support service. By pulling your emails, social media, live chat and customer service calls into one online dashboard, you can easily manage your support requests and keep your customers happy.
This has been around for some time but it still does a great job if your business has a presence across multiple social media channels. See your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram feeds and more on one screen and post across all of them simultaneously. You can even schedule posts to appear when you’re not there! HootSuite also gives you data on how well your content is being received.
There are no completely free payment gateways as all charge transaction fees. Be wary of any that claim they are free as they may be scams. Stripe is specifically designed for SMEs with a fee of 2.4% +20p per transaction and no extra fees for using different cards or currencies, making taking payments online simple and hassle-free.
Looking for an instant messaging service that is clearly defined for your business. Avoid WhatsApp - which is mainly used for personal communication - try Slack instead. You can have several conversations at once on Slack and set up client or customer-specific groups easily. What’s more their starter package is, of course, free and unlike some services, free for an unlimited time.
ZOHO Projects can save you the cost of employing a project manager, at least initially! Track tasks and time and keep your work on schedule. If you want to use it for free, you can only manage a single project at a time, but if you have one big client you need to keep on-track it is really useful.
Not heard of Dropbox? Allow us to introduce you. This fantastic cloud drive is an effective collaboration tool. Share huge files with customers or your team without needing to physically send them. With free cloud storage up to 2GB, Dropbox is still one of the best free tools out there.
Need to know how your website is performing? How about how effective your content is? Google Analytics is a great starting point. See what generates the most traffic and do more of it, begin to identify and segment your customers and see how your visibility on search is doing and how you could improve it.
Want a quick, easy assessment of your website? Try the Website Grader. Powered by Hubspot, this free tool will analyse your site to see how many leads your content generates. It will also compare your site to competitors to help you identify improvements that will give you the edge.
Getting the numbers right can be the difference between make or break for a small business. But not every business owner is a maths whizz. That’s why Calculator Soup is so useful. It’s not a flashy site, but if you need to work out taxes, financial ratios, interest and APR or a multitude of other sums, Calculator Soup is a powerful ally.
Where do you start when writing a business plan? There are plenty of websites willing to take your money to help you, but the Government offers links to free resources which it has vetted. Handy if you need to draft one to secure a Government grant!
Fancy creating your own branded buttons for your websites or blogs? Try Canva. A free account has a limited capacity (1GB storage) but you can upload your own imagery and choose from over 8,000 templates, which should be more than enough to get started and make your content a lot more engaging.
12. HMRC PAYE Tools
When you start employing, getting salaries right is one of the most important roles. Thankfully HMRC has created a tool that helps you work out PAYE and National Insurance contributions. It works alongside most payroll software too, giving you a comprehensive salary solution.
13. Google Drive
With 15GB of free online storage to keep all your documents, photos, videos and other files safe Google Drive should be the perfect cloud storage solution for most SMEs. Easily accessible on smartphones, tablets and laptops and integrated with Gmail, Google Calendar and more it couldn’t be easier to access your files on the go!
Managing tasks, particularly as your team grows, can become challenging, but Producteev simplifies everything. Managing an unlimited number of tasks and assign deadlines from desktop or smartphone is made pretty simple with the help of Producteev. It will also help you track how well you’re doing on delivery.
If your company outreach relies on Twitter, ManageFlitter is the tool for you. ManageFlitter can let you know the best times to tweet and analyse how well your tweets do in comparison to each other. Bear in mind the free version imposes some restrictions on unfollowing and account growth, but if you want to get on top of your Twitter game give it a try.
Do you have amazing content but need images to match? Pixabay can help. A free archive of around 1.1 million images free from copyright so you can use them to make your content all the more visually stunning without commissioning your own photographer.
It’s difficult to avoid the reach of Google if you want to have an online presence, but their free tools are really useful. If you want to find a business, chances are you ‘google’ it - so much so the definition has been included in the dictionary! If you’re doing it so is everyone else, so you need a business listing to help them find you more easily. You can add information about your opening hours and the best ways to contact you on there, making your business even more accessible to others.
Yelp is a site where customers can review your business. When you sign up, you can then reply to your clients’ comments and add more information about your services to it. You can even have Yelp as an app so you can engage with your customers from wherever you are.
Managing the financials of your business can be time-consuming if you don’t retain an accountant full-time, but Wave has the answer. A free accounting software for businesses it can track your invoices and payments and allows you to create bespoke invoices. Plus it can give you reports on your expenses. So keeping an eye on your money is much more simple.
Never lose an inspirational idea again with Evernote. Take meeting notes, store ideas as you have them through your smartphone app and even clip websites and save them to refer to later. And all your content will be synchronised to your laptop or desktop machine. A basic package for one is free.
We hope some of these tools will help you free up time to make your business more successful.
Which tools are you using to be more productive? Tweet us at @OregaOffices!
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