Small business owners and entrepreneurs wear more hats than they expect. But you don't need to be a workaholic to hit your numbers. Small business owners can get free help to handle the nonstop cat-herding without plunking down tight money on a paid business suite. The online software shops and web stores for Android and Apple phones, tablets, and computers offer thousands of free business downloads. To get you started, here are some suggestions for free must-have tools, organized by business function:
Digital Marketing, eMail Blasts and eCommerce
Redcappi: Start here by sending out 100 free emails/newsletters and track your response rate. Perfect for testing ads at no cost. If they work, sign up to send to up to 75,000 contacts for $300/month.
Google My Business: Set up a free profile listing of your business including URL, practicing, hours of operation, etc. Posting your URL increases your returns on searches and in search results.
MailChimp: Send out newsletters to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month as a startup business and pay nothing. Growing businesses pay for unlimited monthly emails to 2,600 subscribers for $35.
HubSpot Marketing Grader: Hubspot's free inbound marketing software provides up-to-date statistics on your blogs, webpages, posts, and other campaigns. Get free SEO blogging tips and automated lead analysis.
Boomerang for Gmail: Perfect for scheduling digital communications to go out to contacts at a later time. Can be a great tool for sending emails to recipients in a time zone that's inconvenient for you.
Finance and Accounting
Wave: The free features in Wave allow managers to input and process unlimited accounting reports and invoices. Paid features enable employee and vendor check or credit card payments.
Hiveage: You can invoice an unlimited number of customers for free using Hivage. Add components for expenses, online payments, time and expense tracking as the business grows.
GnuCash: A free, open-source application with Quicken-style features for accounts receivable/payabvle, invoicing and payroll. Works on Linux, Windows, Android, and OS X.
Zoho Projects: Plug in as many employees or team members as you need for free and track progress. Free account storage limited to 10 MB.
Trello: Another indispensable tool that allows unlimited numbers of project participants and administrators. After using 10 mg, businesses can upgrade to 250MB annually for $5 a month.
Customer Relationship Tracking
Insightly: Software helps businesses oversee contacts, sales leads, vendor, suppliers, and partners. The free version is for two users with up to 2,500 records and storage up to 200 megabytes. Businesses can upgrade to 25,000 records at $12 a month.
Raynet: Raynet's all-in-one CRM free version comes with a license for two users, 150 accounts, and storage up to 50MB. For $19 a month, you can upgrade to a whopping TB of storage and 20,000 accounts.
Highrise: Free version of this app lets businesses track their email exchanges and contact notes for as many as 30,000 entries. Follow-up on leads, procurement communications, and customer/staff interactions.