You run a business. You have a computer. You access the internet. You are on a budget. If this is you, there are many fabulously free software packages available to ensure you keep your information safe and secure as well as easily accessible. Don’t be put off by the fact that they are free. These tools work well, are easy to use and have many advantages for small business owners. Here are a few tips and related tools.
Get your head into the clouds!
As a starting point, we recommend using a cloud environment to store and share data. If, in the unfortunate event, your computer crashes or gets stolen, all of your information will be secured online. You will also be able to share files with others in your company or with friends and family. No more zipping of large files or placing them onto a USB. Your colleagues don’t need to be in the office and connected to the network either to access your company files. They can be accessed from any computer, tablet, IPAD or mobile device. A few recommended free cloud tools include:
- Dropbox – www.dropbox.com
- Box – www.box.com
- Egnyte – www.egnyte.com
- Google Drive – https://drive.google.com/#my-drive
Project and Task Management
Gone are the days of old school and cumbersome project management programs. There are many free project management tools out there, and it is a great option for people wanting to manage and share their tasks and/or projects easily and centrally. Most of them allow you to set tasks, due dates, reminders and dependencies. Your colleagues will get emailed their tasks and will be able to update their progress online. It really is a good option if you would like an overview of how certain tasks and projects are doing. Some can even be used as a light customer relationship management (CRM) system. We have recommended a few attractive and user-friendly options:
It goes without saying that you need to keep your data safe from hacking, phishing, malware and worms. Today there are more hackers out there than ever before, and new viruses are created on an ongoing basis. If you don’t have a good protection program, it is just a matter of time before your computer gets attacked. There are many good and free anti-virus options that offer comprehensive protection. Here is a list of our top recommended free anti-virus solutions.
- AVG – http://free.avg.com/za-en/homepage
- Avast – http://www.avast.com/free-antivirus-download
- Avira – http://www.avira.com/en/avira-free-antivirus
One of the biggest reasons small businesses fail today is because they are not in control of their finances. Simply put, they don’t know where the money goes every month. They don’t know their net profit, cost of sales and wage bill. Without understanding how your business is running financially, it is impossible to plan ahead. It isn’t necessary to pay huge fees for an accountant. There are many great money management tools that are free, and provide a detailed overview and/or snapshot of how your business is performing. Our recommended options include:
Email marketing allows you to send direct promotional emails to gain more customers or to maintain customer loyalty. It is normally cheaper than most other forms of communication and it enables you to deliver your messages directly into your audience’s inboxes. It can be a very powerful communication tool. There are a few good free options for small businesses today that provide an array of services. A few examples include:
- Mailchimp – www.mailchimp.com
- iContact – http://www.icontact.com/
- Clever Elements – www.cleverelements.com
It’s time to take advantage of these tools and make the web work for you. Trust me, once you start using these tools, you won’t look back. They can literally turn your business around.
If you need any advice on which tools will work for you and your company, please feel free to contact me.