One of the most important aspects of running your own small business is to learn how to work smarter, not harder. There’s so much to do, and so little time. Even working 24 hours won’t be enough. You need your sleep, and can’t clone yourself. You could hire employees and freelancers, of course, but if you are just starting out, chances are you don’t have the budget for it. Plus, there are legal implications involved in hiring employees.
So what’s the solution to potential business overload and overwhelm? Free or low-cost small business software.
Software for all of your most important business needs
Microsoft Office Suite
With this software, you get Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more. If you really can’t afford it, there’s OpenOffice or Google Docs. The latter is free through your free gmail account.
MailChimp or Aweber
MailChimp is a basic email marketing platform that is free up to the first 2,500 users. Aweber costs around $10 per month for the same number of users, but has a wide range of templates and other tools to help you build a prospective customer list and market it like a pro.
If you want to create a website or blog, WordPress is a great content management solution. Even those with zero experience can create an impressive site and launch it in a matter of hours. You will need to buy a domain name (URL) for your site, and monthly hosting for it. These cost about $15 per year and $10 per month respectively. WordPress is free. When searching for hosting, opt for a service that has quick WordPress installation, such as Hostgator, and you will have your site up and running in no time.
WordPress also has plugins, little mini-programs that offer special functionality to a site. If you want to create your own e-commerce store in minutes, try WooCommerce. Most plugins are free. Some will have a paid upgrade that can be well worth it.
PayPal is the easiest way to accept payments securely from almost anyone in the world. They have just launched a suite of tools for small businesses. https://www.paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/ecommerce-solutions-for-small-business
Open a business account using your business bank account. Verify it by following the guidelines at PayPal. Use the invoicing system to get paid for your services. Create buy now buttons to get paid for your products.
Bookkeeping/accounting is essential for any business. This is the top-rated small business software, according to PC magazine. Use it on your computer and/or in the cloud.
Time tracking tools
Time is money when it comes to working on client projects, or running your own business effectively. Try Harvest or Toggl for tracking time. These handy apps are free.
Social media management
Social media marketing can take a huge bite out of your time each day. Software that can help you schedule posts and cross-post to your various accounts all from one dashboard can be a lifesaver. Buffer is ideal if you are looking for low-cost business software that can streamline your social media marketing. HootSuite is more expensive, and there is a steeper learning curve, but it is still affordable, and you can also monitor your presence on the networks.