In the current economic landscape bustling with competition, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) must employ digital tools in order to survive and eventually thrive. While many developers still focus on larger enterprises, the good news is that there is a burgeoning market for SMB software solutions that cover virtually all aspects of business operations. Here, we discuss some useful tools that have free versions.
Skype is useful, but Slack might have an edge in the area of SMB communication. First off, it is integrated with Google’s productivity suite. Furthermore, Slack offers a wide range of features and options, and highly customizable notifications are a real treat. Communication between teams becomes much easier and also more timely. Finally, Slack’s functionality goes beyond that of a mere communication tool, as it has management functionality as well.
An office suite is an indispensable asset for any SMB. Some organizations use it to handle various core operations, while others utilize the suite mostly for paperwork and support. In either case, Google Docs helps a great deal. You can work from any place and device of your choosing since the data is stored and synched in the cloud. You can edit text, handle spreadsheets, and share documents via this program. The only thing you need in order to get the ball rolling is an internet connection and a Google ID. Powerful, free, and versatile, Google Docs is certainly a solid choice for SMBs.
Project management is one of those business activities that make a real difference in terms of performance and productivity. Trello rises above the competition because it is tailored to the specific needs of SMBs and the realities of smaller-scale projects. Companies with small but scattered teams will find it particularly handy. Its strong points are visual appeal and seamless ease of use, offered in an intuitive, drag-and-drop interface. Just note that the amount of data you can share on a single project is limited in the free version.
There are quite a lot of accounting tools in the market, but GnuCash stands out from the rest. It was initially designed as an open-source alternative to more popular, paid apps. Now it operates on all major platforms and is best utilized in hands of individuals and SMBs. You can take care of invoicing, payroll, employee expenses, credit notes, accounts payable and receivable, etc. This tool is surprisingly flexible, and accounting software is a great way to postpone paying for professional accounting services until you can afford them.
SMBs eager to jumpstart email marketing should look no further than MailChimp. What you get for free are 12,000 messages per month to 2,000 people. You can make good use of built-in templates and editors to customize your campaigns and take efficiency to the next level. On top of all that, there is a multitude of third-party integrations along with comprehensive help material. The only drawback of the free version is that you do not get analytic tools and auto-responder. Still, MailChimp is easy to set up and use, and it produces tangible benefits in no time.
Full Steam Ahead
These solutions presented here work their magic even for organizations operating on a shoestring budget. The free platforms may not be completely loaded with features, but they meet the needs of most SMBs. Not all solutions are created equal, though, so weigh their pros and cons. One thing is for certain: If you do not have a digital toolset working to your advantage, you will miss growth opportunities and fall behind your competition.
Tracey Clayton is a full-time mom of three girls and is passionate about traveling, marketing and everything tech related. Her motto is: “Live the life you love; love the life you live.”