It’s one of the oldest sayings in business – you have to spend money to make money. Consequently, running your own business can be expensive. Unless you’re that rare species of entrepreneur that can always afford to take risks, it’s likely you review every business expense carefully. For instance, choosing cost-effective business management tools is essential to operational efficiency. Fortunately, the days of decent software only coming as part of premium packages are over. Now, many developers offer excellent cost-free business management solutions, which you can upgrade once your venture grows. Below, we run through our picks of the best business management tools – all of which are 100% free.
Free business management tools:
Our top 10 picks
1. Website builder by Wix
Small businesses simply can’t do without a website – after all, today’s business landscape is becoming increasingly dominated by the digital space. However, for many new companies, their web design needs aren’t excessively complicated. Therefore, after some initial investment on a domain, your website builder is an area where you can save. For example, free builders like Wix can help you create a high-functioning, mobile-ready website for absolutely nothing. Later down the line when your website requirements become more complex, you can upgrade to the paid account.
2. Project management with Asana
Asana business management tools are excellent, regardless of which plan you choose. The free version allows comprehensive team collaboration with to-do lists, project boards, timelines, and calendars, with no limit on storage. For many small businesses with small teams, the Basic version should see them through projects for years to come. However, if you need an overview of multiple projects or different tiers of access, you can upgrade to the Premium, Business or Enterprise plans. With cool features like reporting and data export capabilities, these tools are super useful – and if it’s good enough for NASA, it’s good enough for us.
3. Accounting software by ZipBooks
An essential part of better business management is careful bookkeeping. To get free accounting help for small business, you can use software from ZipBooks. Their Starter tier offers unlimited invoicing to any number of clients, which make it one of the less restrictive free options on the market. It can also accept payments from all major credit cards and Paypal. Other perks include a sleek interface and intuitive functionality, saving you both time and money on your bookkeeping tasks. If you decide to upgrade, you can also take advantage of collaboration, time-tracking, and automatic expenses features.
4. Video conferencing from Zoom
There’s a reason Zoom just became the stock market’s most valuable tech IPO – it’s because it works. The free, basic version of the video conferencing software allows you to connect with clients, leads, and freelancers. You can host up to 100 participants, have unlimited one-on-one meetings, and group meeting of up to 40 minutes, all in crystal-clear HD. What’s more, like all the business management tools in our countdown, you can upgrade your plan as your venture grows.
5. Social media scheduling and analysis from Hootsuite
Social media is essential to marketing your small business – so trivialize it at your peril. Cultivating a strong social media presence is effectively a full-time job and lots of small teams struggle to keep up. However, there are several free marketing tools for business that can help streamline the task. For example, scheduling tools like Hootsuite help you to queue your Facebook and Twitter posts so you can deliver your content in batches. Furthermore, Hootsuite Free also comes with basic social listening capabilities, so you can manage multiple networks, track followers, and monitor engagement.
6. Email marketing with MailChimp
MailChimp is one of the most popular emailing marketing clients on the market. Service tiers are calculated depending on the number of emails you want to send per month. However, the bands are pretty generous – if your company sends less than 12,000 emails to under 2,000 subscribers per month, you qualify for the free version. What’s more, you’ll also get built-in signup forms and a neat drag and drop design tool. Detailed reporting isn’t included in the free plan, but for nothing, it’s a pretty great package.
7. Surveys with SurveyMonkey
Market research is critical to meeting customer expectations. However, the good news is that one of the best ways to take the temperature of your client base is a good old-fashioned survey. Thanks to handy online survey tools like SurveyMonkey, you can send up to ten questions to 100 respondents. The downside is that you can’t export your findings with the free plan. For that, you’ll need to upgrade to Standard where you can grow your respondents to 1,000.
8. E-commerce tools from X-Cart
Making sales is key to the success of your business. As e-commerce becomes an increasingly unstoppable force, it’s likely you’ll want to push your product online. However, if you don’t have the resources to spend on a complex online shopping platform, X-Cart is one of the more powerful business management tools out there. The free version is X-Cart 5, which offers advanced features like a site builder, social-commerce sharing, and shipping labels. The only downside of this platform is it’s not fantastically user-friendly – so keep an IT person on hand to help with the setup.
9. Business intelligence by Microsoft Power BI
Microsoft Power BI is available in both paid and basic versions. This platform provides self-service information management for business, limited to 1GB per user. With this tool, your data will refresh on a daily basis with the ability to scan 10,000 rows per hour. When your business grows, you can upgrade to a premium version that allows you to consumer live data sources and Microsoft Office 385 integration. However, the premium version is very reasonably priced, coming in at just $10 per month.
10. Customer relationship management with Apptivo
Customer relationship management platforms are often complicated, pricey, and packed full of features that you’re unlikely to ever use. However, Apptivo offers a Starter version of their CRM software, which allows up to three users delve into customer data. You'll be able to connect your CRM to finance management and procurement tools, which is especially helpful if you're familiarizing yourself with cloud services. What’s more, this basic package offers detailed reporting, 500MB of data and business management tools like milestone tracking and project templates.