16 Low-Cost Tools Your Small Business Should Be Using
In this day and age it can be very difficult to siphon through the good and the bad when it comes to small business applications. There are many free and paid services that offer very similar services, but how do you know which is right for your small business? These “freemium” tools will help you get started, no matter what industry you may be in:
Online Accounting & Finance Tools for Small Business
QuickBooks: Accounting software for those with minimal accounting knowledge, supplying basic accounting, invoicing, reporting capabilities, payroll, inventory tracking and credit card processing. At it’s most basic level, QuickBooks allows you to keep track of the money coming in and out of your business, how much you owe to others, and how much others owe to you. QuickBooks offers a 30–day FREE trial and an EasyStart option for a very affordable monthly rate.
Xero: An online accounting system designed specifically for small businesses and their advisors. The dashboard is a real-time view of your business at a glance with all your current transactions accessible anywhere in the world. Ultimately, Xero saves you time as a small business owner with better systems, management reports, collaboration and unlimited bank feeds. Xero offers a 30-day FREE trial and alternatively a reasonably inexpensive Starter pack for small business owners.
Mentio: As cashflow is the #1 reason businesses fail, Mentio allows users to quickly see what money is coming in, and what bills you need to pay – catching any cash shortfalls before they happen. Recently acquired by Lendified, Mentio allows users to see which customers owe you and how much, making it a stress-free process finding which customers are paying late and who is overdue. If you are having trouble deciding about hiring a new employee or purchasing that new computer, Mentio provides experts to answer all those uncertainties just a click or call away.
Customer Support Tools for Small Business
Zoho CRM: Zoho is a customer resource management tool allowing each user to manage leads, contacts, accounts, and activities. Zoho CRM automatically sorts high-priority activities and leads to help organize your day while capturing customer info on your site and adding them to your list of leads. It automates your day-to-day business activities, so you can focus on selling, not maintaining data. Zoho CRM offers a 15-day FREE trial, with affordable month-to-month options depending on the size and needs of your small business.
ZenDesk: This is a customer service software providing a cloud-based customer support platform allowing quicker and easier interaction between businesses and customers. This gives companies the ability to handle customer calls, emails and other tech support inquiries without needing a classic brick and mortar help center. ZenDesk offers a 30-day FREE trial with an Essential subscription at a very affordable price.
E-Commerce Tools for Small Business
Shopify: Arguably the leader in its space, and a Canadian small business success story, Shopify allows each user to set up a fully hosted and customizable online shopping cart that accepts all global currencies. Shopify is affordable, visually appealing, includes advanced ecommerce analytics and SEO, webhosts, is very secure, and has world-class customer support. With a FREE 14-day trial period, it is really easy to test out this fantastic e-commerce platform.
Human Resources Tools for Small Business
Namely: A web-based platform specializing in core HR and talent management for growing companies, allowing them to cover payroll, benefits admin, time off tracking, and performance reviews. With a built-in social news feed and custom reports for individual and team metrics, Namely is very user-friendly and great for growing companies. Offering scheduled demos, Namely offers many cost-effective solutions for all your HR needs.
AnyPerk: Allows companies of all sizes deliver perks and discounts to their employees, in turn increasing productivity and quality of work-life. Members have access to deals on over 850 brand names giving managers the ability to recognize their employees’ achievements with rewards. Their pricing is very competitive with other perk-related applications such as Perk, Rewardz, and PerkPool.
Legal Tools for Small Business
Docusign: An accelerated transaction application that allows businesses to sign documents electronically for exchanges of contracts and signed documents. Docusign uses authentication services, user identity management and workflow automation to speed up the long-standing process of signing documents in a physical form. Their monthly/annual pricing options are very affordable for both personal and business accounts, and you have the option to subscribe to the 30-day FREE trial if you want to learn the ropes before you decide to purchase a plan.
Marketing Tools for Small Business
MailChimp: A simple email marketing software (EMS) offering many options for designing, sending, and saving templates for emails as well as newsletters. When you connect your store with one of MailChimp’s hundreds of e-commerce integrations, you can create targeted campaigns, automate helpful product follow-ups, and send back-in-stock messaging. MailChimp offers a FREE plan for 2,000 or fewer subscribers and a tiered paid structure for a better reach.
HubSpot: An inbound marketing software platform that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers. Using their attract, convert, delight strategy, users create blog posts, ebooks, videos and other content that answers the questions your prospects are asking. Though HubSpot may not be inexpensive, if you as a small business do not have the time to create/curate content to drive inbound marketing and close customers, it is a great resource to implement.
Operations and Productivity Tools for Small Business
Trello: A collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards allowing you at one glance to see what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process. Trello has a variety of work and personal uses including real estate management, software project management, school bulletin boards, lesson planning, law office case management and social media content planning. Trello has a FREE subscription for it’s basic features, and also offers a paid Trello Gold for premium and unlimited features.
Evernote: A notes application designed to help you stay organized with features such as text, images, audio, scanned documents, files and more synchronized with all your devices. Evernote offers a Basic Plan for FREE if your note-needs are lighter than most, providing 60MB of uploads per month.
Slack: A messaging application for teams and workplaces that can be used across multiple devices and platforms allowing members to upload and share files, apps and services. Slack provides a FREE version of the application for up to 10,000 messages and 5GB of total file storage, and alternatively a paid Standard, Plus, and Enterprise plan for those with larger requirements.
UberConference: A service that allows you to set up and host conference calls right from your mobile device. UberConference allows you to share your screen, mute on demand, has HD audio, document sharing, analytics and more. They offer a FREE subscription to up to 10 participants as well as a paid Business Plan, which is very affordable for small business communication.
Sales Tools for Small Business
Nimble: Customer data gathering application that automatically collects every single prospect’s emails and social media updates to learn what your prospects and customers are looking for. This allows the user to manage relationships without timely and costly data entry. Nimble offers a 14-day FREE trial with an affordable per month rate as well.
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About the Author
Lendified is Canada's premier online lender for small businesses. The company was founded by former bank executives dedicated to provide businesses with fast, easy, and affordable financing. The Lendified team regularly produces blogs and guides to help small business owners succeed.