Starting and running a small business comes with lots of challenges. It’s intimidating to take the entrepreneurial leap and remove any safety net you may have had in the form of a full-time job or other support. One of the most difficult aspects is budget management in the early stages. Unless you secured a business loan or angel investment you are most likely working with limited resources to get your business off the ground. Once you are operational you may not post any profits for the first few years. Even companies like FedEx and Amazon didn’t turn a profit for years. This sobering fact is not meant to deter new entrepreneurs but instead highlights the importance of cash flow management. When you are first starting out it’s key to control your expenses. This article will highlight 10 budget friendly tools that might come in handy for small business owners.
GraphicSprings is a do-it-yourself logo application built for non-designers. Even if you don’t have a design background you can easily come up with your own logo design in a few minutes. The process is simple; you enter your business name and slogan, select your industry and then choose a graphic that suits your needs. The logo editor allows you to make changes to text and graphic before you download.
Budget: Logos can be downloaded for as little as $19.99.
Canva is a resource that allows you to design anything graphic design related. Whether you need a flyer, business cards or social media posts you can easily design it through their application. You’ll have countless professionally designed templates at your disposal and you can make as many changes as you need before downloading.
Budget: Downloading your design is free unless you include premium elements in your creation. Even then the premium elements are fairly cheap and much cheaper than hiring a graphic designer.
Getting into email marketing is a smart move for anyone who has their own site. Encourage your site visitors to share their email with you so that you can follow up with them with news about your business, promotions and helpful tips. MailChimp allows you to effectively set up, run and manage your email campaigns not matter how large your subscriber list.
Budget: Mailchimp offers a free starter plan with the next tier up coming in at $9.99/month. Pro tip, as your subscriber list grows back it up locally and delete the old emails on MailChimp to avoid crossing into the next more expensive price plan.
If your team is growing or you manage a lot of complex projects you might want to consider using a project management solution like Trello. Trello lets us easily set up and manage projects. Some of the traditional project management software Like Microsoft Project is clunky and overly complex. With Trello you are up and running in just a few clicks.
Budget: Trello follows the freemium model as well. Their free version should be sufficient for most small businesses however.
Upwork is a platform that allows you to find, hire and manage freelancers from all around the globe. Whether you need translations, web development or content creation for your blog you can find talent on here. The skillset and price varies amongst different providers. Make sure to carefully review their profiles, reviews and ask lots of questions before hiring.
Budget: There is no fee to post a project. You can set and negotiate price for the actual job.
WordPress is a popular content management system based on PHP and MySQL. Setting up and managing your own website is certainly a welcome cost saving. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create a WordPress website
Budget: WordPress offers free templates as well as plans starting as little as $4/month.
Hootsuite is the most commonly used social media management platform. Instead of managing all of your different social media accounts individually you can do so directly from their platform. Integrate your business FaceBook, Instagram, Linkedin, etc. accounts and schedule, monitor and analyze your social traffic.
Budget: Their starter plan, which allows you to manage 10 social media profiles, is $29/month. Even though this is a bit pricier for a subscription plan if you keep the time savings in mind it’s well worth it.
The need for beautiful imagery is ever increasing, especially in this world of constant demand for fresh social media content. Pexels allows you to download professional photography images in high-resolution format. You can use these images on your company website, social media accounts, brochures, etc.
Budget: It’s free to download images but they encourage a donation.
This article is about using cost effective solutions to help you run your business. Keeping your expenses low is only half the battle, staying organized financially is the other half. QuickBooks is an accounting solution that lets you track profitability, expenses, invoices and more.
Budget: The basic plan starts at $12/month.
Google Analytics (https://analytics.google.com/)
This is an obvious recommendation but can’t be emphasized enough. One of the first tasks for every webmaster is to sign up for Google Analytics and to add the code snippet to your site. This will allow you to get crucial insight into your website traffic.
Budget: Google Analytics is 100% free to use.
You may not have a need for all of the tools listed above at this very moment. Maybe you’re just starting out as a freelancer, just launched a personal blog or don’t know how big you want to scale your business yet. However, as you grow and evolve you’ll most likely be in need of resources to help you with graphic design, project management, social media management, accounting, etc. Familiarize yourself with these affordable solutions now so when you do have a need you have a starting point. Of course, there are also alternatives listed to all of the options above which a quick Google search will reveal.