Being a small business owner is a juggling act – and you don’t have loads of cash to invest in expensive websites, project management tools and the like. Check out my list of must-have free and cheap tools for small business owners that will help you streamline your processes, saving time and money:
1. Squarespace – Website Builder (Cost: Free to try, then $8 – 24 per mo.) Why it rocks: Squarespace saves you the headache of figuring out how to install a theme, host your domain, and all the other tasks that come with building a WordPress site. Sure, WordPress is cheap, but after you pay to host your domain and purchase a template, you’ll break even with Squarespace.
Bonus points: The drag and drop interface makes it simple to build your own layout, and the integrated analytics make it easy to glance at your web traffic and more. www.squarespace.com
2. Buffer – Social Media Management (Cost: Free or $10 per mo.)
Why it rocks: Buffer makes it easier than ever to schedule out content for your social sites. Hook up your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ pages, schedule times to post, install the browser plugin and you’re on your way. I manage my social media presence with Buffer in just a few hours per week! Bonus points: Buffer even suggests popular content each week so you have to do very little searching for new ideas if you’re in a time crunch.
3. Todoist – Task Management (Cost: Free or $30 per year)
Why it rocks: Todoist is my favorite business management tool by far. Todoist lets you schedule tasks in a variety of ways, including categorizing by projects, color-coding, flagging and more. My motto is: if it isn’t it Todoist, I don’t do it.
Bonus points: If you upgrade to Todoist Premium for just $30 per year, you can share projects with collaborators; my husband and I even manage our home to do lists here.
4. MailChimp – Email Solution (Cost: Free up to 2,000 subscribers)
Why it rocks: MailChimp is the most popular email solution for entrepreneurs for a reason. For starters, it’s totally free up to 2,000 subscribers. The intuitive email layouts and easy-to-use list management makes this tool a no-brainer.
Bonus points: MailChimp’s analytics help you understand which email strategies work, and which don’t, at a glance. And they provide extensive industry benchmarks so you know what to aim for right off the bat.
5. Square – Mobile Payment Processor (Cost: Free card reader and app; simple per-transaction fee structure)
Why it rocks: If you’ve ever used a credit card at a farmer’s market, festival, and even in some cabs, chances are you’ve used the Square. A little white card reader attaches to your smartphone and lets any business owner take payment on the spot. All you have to do is request one, it arrives in the mail in a few business days, install the app, and you’re off to the races. I used this when I was running my first business, a vegan cookie company, and I can’t even explain the amount of sales I would have missed if I didn’t have the Square.
Bonus points: Square has significant market traction, so many of your customers are already familiar. That means you won’t have to educate them on the tool!
Small business owners, are there any other must-have solutions that you use to manage any aspect of your business? I’d love to hear about it. Drop me a line in the comments below!