There are many tools available within your browser or to download for "FREE”. But "free” isn’t always free. You need to check if it is a free trial or Open Source, and determine what any restrictions may be or what advertising may be included.
A free trial will give you a time limit, or full or limited use for so much data or users (eg: first three users free). Keep in mind that these free tools are designed to capture you to purchase an option or purchase other items, and as your company grows you will purchase these products as you need them. Open Source software is provided under a licence at no charge.
One of the most important things about this process is ensuring that any product or service you go with must be able to grow with your business, so think carefully about your top goal in business and how this will fit.
When setting up your business, some of the basics are:
- A phone number
- A customer relations management database
- An office program
- PDF program for documents
- Accounts or Invoicing system.
Here are some free options:
2talk Go Free – 15 NZ minutes, an 028 number, pay as you go. This gives you a free phone VoIP option on your computer with free software to use the phone. www.2talk.co.nz
Zoho CRM Free Edition – A functional CRM that will grow with your business. www.zoho.com
SkyDrive via WindowsLive – Microsoft’s cloud option for Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, available in your browser for free, plus you get 25GB free storage. https://skydrive.live.com
PDF Creator – Create PDF versions of your documents for ease of forwarding via email and maintaining your original formatting.
Google Apps – Use the free version of Google Apps for Business to streamline your email and add functions like Sites, Calendar and Document Storage. tinyurl.com/4bhrf7
NCH Express Invoice – A tidy, easy-to-use invoicing program. www.nchsoftware.com/invoice
NCH Express Accounts – Another tidy, easy program. www.nchsoftware.com/accounting
Free Websites – Free websites with free hosting; all have some sort of advertising attached, so read the fine print. One option is www.weebly.com. This is an easy-to-use drag & drop website creator.
Remember, you mostly get what you are given when it’s free, and there is always a reason why it is free, so understand that reason. Some of these options may not suit your business and there may or may not be others that do, so Google what you are seeking.