As the owner of a small business, how do you keep your head above the parapet? You have a myriad of tasks with your name on and yet you still have to grow your business and service existing clients. It is tough, and online tools have never played a bigger part in streamlining your processes than now. But with a limited budget to spend, the chances are you are looking to increase productivity, whilst keeping spending at a minimum. The good news is that there are a number of free tools for small business out there and here are my top 6.
Free Tools for small business
Trello is a team and task management programme that gives the user the ability to create “Boards” and “Cards”, set due dates, add notes, images etc. With a huge range of extensions, Trello really can be adapted to suit your needs, from social media scheduling, to project management. Boards can be shared across teams and tasks organised by “completed”, “pending” and “In progress”. There are a variety of plans available with a free plan for individuals and small teams. I use Trello not only as a visual board for clients to approve their social media scheduling prior to posting (download the calendar extension and save cards direct to a specific date) but also for organising to-do lists in a team environment. Great!
Online security has never been more topical than in recent months when even large corporations have reported security concerns and “hacking” issues. LastPass, (although not without its’ own security issues this year) is a secure tool allowing users to generate, store and use secure passwords. We all know that we should use random passwords containing a combination of letters, numbers and special characters, but how many of us still resort to the same one across all sites or waste time hunting down missing passwords? Not only does LastPass save and record new sites, but autofills information when you make a return visit to a site. LastPass will also alert you when there is a conflict of passwords (i.e. the same password used across multiple sites) and prompt you to change them to something unique. LastPass offers a great alternative to those scraps of paper with old passwords scrawled on and, as long as you regularly review and change passwords offers a great free tool for small business.
If, like me, you constantly find articles on social media or in searches and newspaper articles that you “must read later”, then Evernote is the tool for you. Manage projects, ideas and lists into one “pot”, so that you can easily access them later and read or review them at your leisure. Save items across all devices into different “notebooks”, giving you an online filing cabinet of reference material which you can access in a spare moment, on the train ride home or whenever.
Rapportive shows contact details and social connections in your inbox. It is a free G Mail plugin that displays relevant details of whoever you are emailing, including a profile picture, location and details of any social media links. Invaluable if you need to contact someone but are not sure of the configuration of their email address, as it will give you applicable common email structures.
A simple to use and intuitive CRM system, Capsule CRM allows you to track a full client history with the ability to add notes, send and store email conversations, attach documents and agreements to each record and add and complete tasks, ensuring you and your team are always up to date. The free version only allows two users and up to 250 contacts, but the Professional (paid for) version is currently £8.00 per month.
Camcard allows you to scan, sync and exchange business cards to your mobile phone. Great if you spend a lot of time networking as you can also add notes relating to each contact, allowing you to note where and when you met and highlight any key information or flag contacts to follow up. Business cards are stored in the cloud and can be synchronised across all devices. Camcard also has the functionality to read cards in 16 languages.
Hopefully, some of my “top 6” free tools for small business will find a place in your everyday. Obviously, what is important is that you find tools that suit you and your working practice and, if we can adopt technology and utilise online tools to streamline our day, increase productivity and cut down on the minutiae, then surely that can only be a good thing?
What are your “Go-To” tools? What tools could you not do without? I would love to hear.
If you would like help in streamlining processes within your organisation, on what free tools for small business would work best for you, or help with updating practices and procedures, then please get in touch.