Starting a business can be a daunting endeavor, especially if all you have is a cool product and not enough capital. In the tech world, or in any other niche for that matter, most startuppers fail not because they have bad products but because they are unable to generate enough consumer interest in their products. Considering overheads and other back-office expenses, this scenario doesn’t come as a surprise. So if you’re still starting out and find yourself strapped for much needed funding to keep your startup afloat, the following free business productivity tools are worth checking out.
If you need a collaboration tool your staff are most likely to adopt with relative ease and minimum training, take the social intranet route. Bitrix24.com is the fastest growing social intranet that’s free for businesses with 12 employees or less. The application comes as a combination of several different work tools like CRM, project management, real-time streaming, activity planner, file sharing, to name just a few. As it is cloud-based, access can be anywhere, whether using your computer or smartphone. An upgrade to unlimited users starts at $99 per month.
In this era of e-mail and instant messaging, you’d think fax machines are no longer relevant. But if a LinkedIn survey as reported by Mashable is to be believed, fax machines are still in until 2017 steps in. As you might have already guessed from the site’s name, GotFreeFax.com is an online service that allows you to send up to three pages of fax for free (maximum of two faxes per day) to any number in the United States or Canada. The site also offers premium pay-per-fax service should you need to send more.
RememberTheMilk.com is an online productivity tool that assists in task and time management. Remember The Milk essentially functions as your all-in-one task manager, electronic calendar and to-do list. Aside from allowing you to share and split tasks with other people, the application can be integrated with GMail, too. The pro account is priced at $25 for one year and comes with exclusive mobile app features and Microsoft Outlook integration.
Kolab.org is an open-source group collaboration server that allows for sharing of notes, e-mail access, calendar organization, task management, address book maintenance, news aggregation, phone sync and journal integration. Kolab is secure, scalable, reliable, mobile and professional, ensuring productivity every step of the way. As a whole, the application requires some getting used to. But once you get the hang of it, the hassle can be all worth it.
Formerly WaveAccounting.com, WaveApps.com is an accounting software that’s fast, simple and easy to use, offering unlimited invoicing and expense tracking. 100% free for small businesses with nine employees or less, it’s accountant-approved and specifically designed for non-accountants. You can also securely connect your bank and PayPal accounts or other sources of data, and your transactions are automatically imported into the accounting software.
To make your business presence known, one surefire route to take is through the distribution of press releases. PRLog.org is a site where you can dispense press releases for free. And if you feel you don’t have the necessary expertise to create a killer press release, the site provides instructions on how to write one, even how to embed videos where necessary.
One cardinal business rule is that businesses should have their own websites to boost their market presence online. Weebly.com is a free website creator that doesn’t require website creation expertise. Until you’re ready to go for more complex and/or self-hosted sites that would require monthly or yearly payments, Weebly.com is a good alternative.
For those meetings or web conferences on the fly, Join.me is a simple-to-use teleconferencing application that allows you to review documents and designs, train staff, do product demonstrations – basically to get everyone apprised of company updates. You can do transatlantic web conferences and presentations, too.
IFTTT.com, which is short for “if this, then that,” functions like a computer program repeatedly uttering if/then logic all day long. With IFTTT, you set up “recipes” to assist you with task automation. For a recipe to work, you have to have a channel, a trigger and an action. Examples of channels are Facebook, e-mail, Evernote, LinkedIn, just to mention a few. For instance, if you’re tagged in a photo on Facebook, you can create a recipe that would automatically download the image into Dropbox.
Do you have any favourite tools of your own, as a startup? Let us know in the comments!