As a (failed) entrepreneur I can personally tell you that one of the biggest hardships me and my team faced was financial woes for things we needed around the office and online. Everything seemed to cost money – money that we didn’t have.
Sure, there were some free programs we were able to use to help keep up with tasks and customer service, but none of them were nearly as robust as they needed to be. Granted, this was many moons ago and we’re now in a time where even free versions of needed tools can take you, your team, and your idea a long way.
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While there are many options available for accomplishing different tasks, the four below are a great starter set, and can fill a lot of gaps early on.
So, I think it’s safe to say that we’re at a point where when we want answers we expect them, and that most certainly holds true when it comes to visiting a website. We want to talk to someone as soon as we have questions, we don’t want to wait for an email back because we have grown up in an era of instant gratification. For a business, having software that allows for instant communication can be the difference between securing and losing multiple sales a day. Live chat software can accomplish that, and we’re in an amazing time where there are actually free options to accomplish the task. One example is Pure Chat.
Integration is simple and will only take most people minutes to set up. It works with everything from WordPress to Shopify and Squarespace, as well as many others. In addition to the free live chat, Pure Chat can also integrate with platforms such as Google Analytics, HubSpot and Infusionsoft to bolster its usefulness. The app suite, Zapier, can also be integrated to users with over 750 apps like MailChimp and SalesForce. And the best part? All of this is free, as well. There is a Pro version for some additional features and unlimited users, but your main stable of tools will cost you nothing.
When you’re starting up everything is new and figuring out how your processes will work can be a very overwhelming thing. Task management can shape your company for years to come, and if you can start on the right foot you’ll be building a better foundation for the years to come. ClickUp is one option you can look into, thanks to that awesome price of “free.”
While you only get 100MB of storage with the free package, everything else is included. Really where ClickUp excels is in its easy-of-use and intuitive features that keep projects connected, with threaded comment chains while offering different views on tasks and projects depending on your role (developer, manager, etc). And it’s used by companies like Google and Uber, so you know you’ve got something good in store.
I love Canva. Seriously. As someone who likes to create beautiful imagery, promotional pieces, and blog posts, Canva has really made that possible without having to take the time to really dive into programs like Photoshop. Granted, in the long run it would definitely be better to have a great grasp on photo editing software, sometimes, especially when starting out, there are better places to put your focus. Canva helps cover you in the interim.
While a large section of the service is hidden behind paywalls and $1 charges (which in all honesty is pretty fair) there are still plenty of things you can accomplish if you’re looking for a stylish banner or blog image. Controls are easy to use, and the layout is intuitive enough that you will not need to waste time watching videos in order to accomplish your goals within the program.
If you’re not using some sort of collaborative chat service, you are definitely in the minority at this point. Being able to centralize projects, updates, and conversations into one hub will help maintain efficiency while keeping everyone in the loop. There are plenty of options available, but Slack is one of the more popular ones and for good reason. It’s simple to set up, simple to use, and has a lot of benefits over traditional chat apps like Skype.
The biggest one? Slack integrates with almost everything it seems. From ClickUp and Zapier, to Pure Chat and fun apps like Giphy, Slack will work with almost anything, and if it doesn’t, there is probably a developer out there who can use the API to create one. When you’re starting a business, communication is key, and having something like Slack keeps conversations in one place, while keeping you on point with any other applications you may use for work flow.
If you’re a startup or budding entrepreneur you know the importance of keeping your overhead costs low – especially at first. Most of us simply will not be able to generate enough funding or extract enough savings to just go around spending money left and right.
Having free tools is great, but having ones that are actually helpful and free is even better. All four of the choices listed above fall into that category.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.