We are small business owners. Well, at least most of us are. This means that we are some of the most penny-pinching cheapskates out there. And we should all be proud!
But, there are some times where that frugal nature comes back to bite us in the butt. We always try to find the free or discounted workaround for those pesky problems that come up. Whether it’s communication, project management, or scheduling, we always seem to have an answer that doesn’t break the bank.
So, without further ado, here are a few of the programs and apps that I use on a daily basis while running my business, and best of all? They are completely FREE!
I’ve written on this topic before on how Google’s suite of products can greatly increase your productivity levels at work. What I really didn’t touch on though was the fact that these offerings are completely free to the casual or even moderate business user.
The product list that Google offers is second to none when it comes to the stretching of your budget dollars. Everything they offer has a free option that can easily be utilized and tweaked toward your business’s needs.
Google Drive is where I host all of my business information and documents. It’s connectivity across Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides makes it so easy to collaborate with co-workers or independent contractors in real-time. You don’t even need to be in the same state as the person you are working with. I currently use this to handle my email marketing and prospecting with a freelance worker out in Texas. It keeps us in sync and I’m always up-to-date on what she is working on.
Asana Project Management
CT Business could not function if it weren’t for Asana. This awesome piece of online software is what I use to keep track of every client project that comes through our doors. From scheduling tasks with designers and copywriters, to giving teams updates and keep track of the flow of the project from start to finish, everything runs through Asana.
As an overview, you create a dashboard and invite your employees, managers, and freelancers to join your team. Once they are added, you then begin creating projects. For each project, you can create individual tasks to assign each of your team members, as well as setting deadlines and time-frames to make sure it all stays on schedule.
Asana does have a paid version, which you will probably have to upgrade to once business starts to really pick up, but their free version is fully functioning and gives you all the access you could possibly need to get things started.
If you are a very sales focused company, getting a CRM system will make your life so much easier. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and is a type of program that keeps track of every piece of information that comes through a business in regards to leads, clients, orders, and all communication.
Insightly in particular is a specific CRM that gives your business the power to operate like a well-oiled machine and grow to your heart’s content. While there are certainly other options out there, Insightly, in my opinion is by the far the most advanced and customizable for the price you are paying (FREE for up to 3 users).
You can totally customize the program’s dashboard and sections to fit whatever business you are running. I currently use this to track all of the leads that come to CT and I update them as we move through the conversion process until they become full customers. Once that process has completed we can then track all orders and assign different projects and opportunities to each of them. You can also create teams for things like sales or marketing and assign them specific communication tasks or even give them specific clients or organizations to be in charge of handling.
It’s a must-have if you are serious about getting more organized and growing your business.
This is currently the most used program for us at CT. We have bypassed the slow and delayed emails and moved to the instant communication offered by Slack. This program is a combination of the communication speed of instant messaging and the file sharing of email. Even if you are on the road making sales calls or sitting next to somebody in the office, Slack lets you get that spreadsheet or PDF to them instantly without fail.
As I said, this has become a staple for CT Business. Everyone on the team uses it to stay in contact and so far it’s been very successful.
The list for these programs could go on and on, so be sure to check back on Thursdays for the occasional “thrifty” tip and resource.