Running a small business is difficult, and expensive. When you are running the show, you are responsible for everything from marketing products to managing the front office. Those expenses can add up quickly and cash flow problems can even sink your business. That is why finding free applications is so exciting. There are a number of great free applications you can use to run your business more effectively, boost your profits and network with clients and customers. Just take a look at these five free apps to get you started.
Project management is one of the most difficult concepts for small business owners to learn, but the free Basecamp app makes it easier. Basecamp is designed to give project managers everything they need to get organized, get everyone on the same page and put everyone on board.
Basecamp allows small business owners to store PDF documents and other files, making sharing and collaboration much easier. Basecamp users can also post messages to the built-in discussion boards, create to-do lists and set up meetings
#2. Google Calendar
No business can survive without a robust calendar, and Google Calendar is one of the best for small businesses. Google Calendar has quickly become the go-to app and the gold standard for web-based calendars due to its large suite of useful features.
The features included in the free Google Calendar app include the ability to share any event with employees, friends, colleagues, clients and customers. One of the best things about Google Calendar is that small business owners can use it on any gadget, from smartphones and tablets to laptops and desktop computers. That freedom and flexibility is vital for small business owners who often find themselves on the go.
If you do not have a Linkedln account for your small business you need to set one up right away. Linkedln is to the business world what Facebook is for individuals – a place to collaborate, learn and network with others of similar interests. Linkedln makes it easy for small business owners to find qualified employees, choose suppliers, find suitable advertising venues and much more.
Linkedln also offers a number of free tools perfect for small business owners from webinars and classes to discussion boards. Even if you already have a personal Linkedln account, setting one up for your small business is a smart move.
No small business can afford to ignore its social media presence these days. If you have a small business you probably also have an associated Facebook account and Linkedln profile. You may also have a Twitter feed, an account on Google+ and perhaps a Pinterest and Instagram presence as well. Keeping track of all those social media accounts and keeping them updated can seem like a full-time job at times.
That is where Hootsuite comes in. This free app allows small business owners to manage and control all of their social media accounts from a single centralized location. Hootsuite offers a free basic service small business owners can use to manage up to five social media accounts and two RSS feeds. Business owners who need greater functionality can sign up for the $9 a month Pro account, which offers unlimited access.
#5. Free Business Plan Templates from Microsoft
Every small business owner needs a solid business plan, but creating one from scratch can be a daunting task. That is why the free business plan templates Microsoft offers are such valuable tools for small business owners.
Small business owners can download these templates for free and use them to create the business plans they will need to obtain financing, get small business grants and more effectively run their firms. Microsoft also offers a number of other templates small business owners will find useful, from budgeting spreadsheets and detailed financial documents.