When you are starting out as an entrepreneur money is one of your major problems. It seems your financial resources are always spread too thin. Ideally, you want to limit your spending so that you don’t burn through all your cash before your venture starts bringing in some revenue.
Fortunately, due to the growth of the internet, a lot of tools are available to you for free of charge. These tools allow you to look professional, save you time and increase your productivity. Some of these tools are freemium, i.e they have a free version with limited features.
The free features are enough to get you started. You can unlock more features by upgrading as and when needed.
Wave accounting is the best free business accounting software that is perfect for small businesses
Wave allows you to create and send professional invoices, with advanced features like recurring billing and automatic payments. Wave also helps you to truly understand and manage your income and expenses. You can track everything and connect to other Wave products such as payroll, payments, and invoicing.
How is that for simplifying your accounting life as a small business owner?
Time is another resource that is in short supply for startuppers. Being able to manage your time will help you get more done and this will help you grow.
RescueTime allows you to monitor your time usage seamlessly. The app runs in the background of your devices tracking, measuring and automatically categorizing your activity.
It offers a reporting dashboard with all your data sliced, diced and sorted into useful charts to help you manage your time.
The app is based on Peter Drucker’s (the famous management consultant) maxim that “what gets measured, gets managed.”
You will get daily and weekly reports that show how you are using your time. This will help you maximise the output from your time.
Grammarly is a proofreading tool that helps you spot grammatical errors, typos, and awkward sentences. The chrome extension will correct anything written in a web browser even on social media. You don’t want to look unprofessional by sending documents or posts with errors and Grammarly is one tool that can help you avoid that.
It corrects you as you type and you get weekly writing stats.
Slack helps you work collaboratively on projects with your team even when you are geographically dispersed. You can create channels for various projects and share files.
CoVid-19 has resulted in lockdowns that have restricted movement. Your item doesn’t have to slow down because of this. Simply use Slack and collaborate remotely and align your team.
Asana is a project management tool that will help you assign tasks and hit deadlines with your team even when working remotely. It is also a visualisation tool that will help you map out every step of each project that you will be working on. This will help you track progress at a glance.
In short, with Asana you can see where your work stands in a flash, identify next steps, and quickly take action to stay on track.
You won’t need to chase team members to complete their tasks as Asana will give them reminders and continually remind them of the deadlines.
You can even set up recurring tasks once and forget them.
This is another great collaboration tool. It allows you to work with others on the same document and all changes are saved online in real-time. You can access the documents on any device connected to the internet and this makes it very convenient.
To use it you only need to have a Gmail account. Go To Google Docs
You only need a Google account to get 15 Gb free space on Google drive. Use this space to back up files you don’t want to lose. This is even more critical if you work with clients files that are irreplaceable.
Other files you can backup include reports, staff contracts, presentations etc. You can share access to documents or folders with another Gmail user with just a click.
The drive even has tonnes of professional-looking templates that you can use to kickstart your documents.
Google My Business (GMB)
This is a great tool if you have a local business with a physical location. GMB is a free online listing on Google’s search engine which allows business owners like you to manage their local online presence. This listing shows information like your business’ phone number, address, reviews, and a map showing your physical location.
This information is then displayed in the results when a matching search query by a person in the vicinity triggers it. The person can even get directions to your business straight from the search results.
This is tool helps you monitor the web and gert notifications every time a keyword is mentioned. For example, you can get an email everytime your name is mentioned anywhere online. You can set it up to send notifications even when your competititor is mentioned online.
It’s a great tool for staying up to date on the keywords that are important to you.
It can also help you with damage control. If an unhappy customer blasts you online you can quickly be notified and you can respond fast to minimise the damage.
Todoist is a useful task management app. It allows you to create to-do lists with recurring dates and times. With Todoist, you can create a custom schedule for every single day. This is fantastic for reminding you of your daily/weekly task.
For example, you can schedule “send follow up emails to prospects every Monday at 8am”.
Working online invariably means that you will sign up on a number of websites and you run the risk of forgetting some of your passwords and logins. LastPass is a full-featured tool which combines a vault, form-filler, and password generator.
The app captures your logins for every website you visit and easily fills them in the next time you visit the site. It even has a phone app that does the same. With LastPass you will only need to remember the app’s main password while it keeps the rest for you.
You even get a Chrome extension and mobile app to help you manage the passwords on the go.
This is a link shortener that is very handy when you want to share your links on social media or with clients. You just enter your long link and instantly a short link is generated.
Social media is a great way to make yourself known as a business. Keeping your accounts updated is very important as it helps engage your followers. However, due to time pressures, you may forget to post for an extended period.
Buffer solves that problem. With the free version you can schedule up to ten posts to be published as and when you want. So you can set all your posts for a week or two at one sitting and forget about them.
Image and Video Tools
You need to create engaging visuals for your social media pages and website posts. The tools listed here will help you do that for free.
Canva is a great tool for designing great-looking graphics for free. There are tonnes of free templates that can get you started. You dont even need prior graphic designing knowledge to use Canva.
This is just like Canva as it has thousands of templates for online ads, social media posts and web graphics. It’s easy to create professional looking graphics with PosterMyWall even if you are a complete begginer.
You will need stock Photos that you can use in your visuals and you can get them from the following sites
Raw Pixels (www.rawpixels.com)
Launching a startup is hard enough so wherever possible you need tools to help you get along. This array of tools will help you as you trod the entrepreneurial journey.
Which tools are you using for your business? Have you used any of the tools above? Are you looking to try any of the above tools?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.