This post has an affiliate link or 2, but that did not in any way bias our opinion.
Starting a business can be tough on the pocket, especially if like us you are bootstrapping, but that doesn’t mean you have to compromise on quality tools. There are a number of free and freemium software that will get you off to a good start, and with the joys of cloud computing, you don’t have to break the bank on hardware either.
Today we share with you some gems we love here at Mut-Con.
Canva is a freemium cloud-based graphic design software that you can use to design a host of business graphics from logos, to social media covers, infographics, blog titles, business documents and so much more. The layout is intuitive and simple to use compared to your standard illustrator, but the best part is there is a massive design gallery, meaning you don’t always start from scratch.
We use the free features on Hubspot for our marketing and sales efforts. The free CRM allows us to store contacts and create tracking dashboards on leads, prospects and deals. The site also contains handy features like forms that can be embedded anywhere to collect leads, as well as handy analytics on your efforts. But perhaps the handiest feature is the free knowledge on the HubSpot Academy.
What if you could come up with a genius social media post now, then, automatically post it later at a more ideal time? Well, this freemium application lets you do just that, it lets you schedule posts to be uploaded at a later date, whether or not you are online, across multiple platforms. But the witchcraft doesn’t just end there; the app also gives you analytics data on the performance of your posts, so you know the best times to post.
At Mut-Con we are obsessed with insights; it’s what our business is modelled around. We are also obsessed with an online presence. As aresult, we not only like to keep our online assets speak and span but we like to observe how they perform. To achieve this we use the free version of Google Analytics, which allows us to go beyond just click data, to analyse more than just the numbers that visit our site but what they do there.
5. Similar Web
Continuing with the theme of insights and data, it is very important for us to understand the data on our competition and the organisations we emulate. Enter the free version of Similar Web, which allows you to compare the traffic of websites in your industry to your performance, or against other industry players. As a bonus, a recent integration to Google Analytics data was introduced to give a more granular analysis.
When Google discontinued site search, we almost had a crisis in the quest to provide easy site navigation for valued clients, but gladly, innovative companies stepped in to fill the void, and among them is Findberry. This service, which has a free version, allows you to index up to 50 pages, 5 times a month on the free version, complete with customizable search results, on more than one address.
Shopify is bent on allowing anyone and everyone to be an eCommerce entrepreneur, and they increasingly make this a possibility. Not only do they provide an affordable eCommerce platform to build hustle-free online stores they provide tons of free resources to support you as well.
New tools are added regularly, with an option to subscribe to be notified of new tools. This is the perfect starting place for online and offline business with free resources for;
- Business names
- Business slogans
- Business cards
- Various templates
- Invoices and a whole lot more.
Automation is a must to achieve productivity in a business. Particularly in a small business where one person has to do a lot of tasks, automation is non-negotiable. There are a few free resources that seek to help entrepreneurs automate tasks, but few are as comprehensive as Zapier.
Even on their free plan, you can automate tasks between most of the tools mentioned here. With Zapier, you can import data between your apps, like moving a new client in Wave to be better managed in your Hubspot CRM. You can even complete tasks like auto-thank new social media followers. Zapier has over a thousand apps you can automate.
Bitrix24 is a CRM package that contains probably everything you could need to run your business. As a startup, it can really streamline your operations. In this one platform, your business can;
- Publish websites and landing pages
- Manage tasks and projects
- Respond to client calls and queries
- Manage organisational tasks and duties
- Sell products online
- Manage customer relationships with a built-in CRM
- Undertake email, SMS and retargeting marketing
- Manage organisational structure and set up teams.
As a free resource, there’s very little that Bitrix doesn’t do in the everyday running of a business. Just remember though that the free version requires you to use it monthly, failure to so will result in your access being revoked.
Microsft Clarity is a tool for analysing how clients interact with your website. Using heatmaps, a visual representation of the areas of your website with the most interaction and session recordings, you can get a better idea of what visitors do once they land on your website. This is a great tool for diagnosing the user flow of your website as well as determining the effectiveness of your website navigation, copy, calls to action and other elements important for your website’s success.
12. GMB Everywhere
Local SEO is important for any business including businesses that offer their services in a wide geographical area, so it’s important to optimise your Google business listing. GMB Everywhere helps you do just that with a handy browser extension that helps you scan your Google Business Profile and add all the necessary information as well as scan the profiles of your best-performing competitors so you can optimise their best-performing elements on your own profile.
GSC is the number 1 tool you need to improve your performance in Google’s search engine results. It gives you most of what you need to monitor, diagnose, maintain and troubleshoot your website’s search presence. With GSC, you can better understand how your site is performing and why that is so. It also includes some tools for webmasters to improve their search results such as the site map submission tool. The regular email updates will help you stay on top of any search issues, and the monthly performance reports will help you know which efforts are working, and which ones are not.
If you aren’t already, you need to start building partnerships for your business. PartnerStack is a great platform to discover, apply to, and manage the best partnerships to grow with. There are hundreds of programs to choose from and with that many available, you are bound to find a few that relate to your day-to-day activities. There is even a feature to suggest partnership programs. From a single dashboard, view your partnership programs, create links to promote products, view your earnings and analyse your performance. Growing through partnerships is a little easier with PartnerStack.
FreeOffice, as the name suggests, is a free office suite for Mac, Windows and Linux that works excellently as an alternative to Microsoft Office. In addition to being free, its most significant qualifier as an alternative to Microsoft Office is it also works on Mac and Linux, which Microsoft Office doesn’t. The best part, it doesn’t have a steep learning curve. Its look and functionality are modelled around Microsft Office, and for the most part, using FreeOffice’s suite of tools feels just like using Word, Excel, and Powerpoint.
Have you ever wondered what your target audience wants to know about specific topics? Answer the public answers just that question. It combines search data from Google with a keyword of your choice to help you discover what people are asking about. By adding specific modifiers to your keyword, what, who, where, and how, the tool is designed to help you answer the public in all your copywriting.
Inkscape is a free vector graphic creator and editor for professional SVGs and works great as an alternative to Corel Draw and Adobe Illustrator. Inkscape is good enough to fulfil the needs of the most professional graphic designers, with the ability to import and export a number of image formats. Inkscape is particularly useful if you took our advice and moved to a free Linux distro, where a lot of graphics software tends not to install.
17. Zoho Books
Zoho Books gives small businesses one of the most comprehensive free accounting solutions on the market. With the ability to issue 1000 invoices and track 1000 expenses per annum, as well as added benefits such as generating reports and connecting to your bank account, most small businesses will be well accommodated by this plan. This is easily the best solution to start your accounting on the right foot, and can even stack a claim to be better than some paid options out there. The best part is when you are looking to upgrade, paid plans start from as little as R99.00 monthly.
We would love to hear what freebies you use to bring the magic on a daily or how any of these incredible resources contribute to your vision. Don’t forget to visit version 2, version 3 and version 4 of this article for other free resources.