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The good news is that for growing businesses there are now hundreds of tools and apps out there – many of which are free or super low cost – which can help with a huge range of business needs. From marketing to collaboration and timesaving!
Professional design services come at a cost – one that’s beyond many small business owners’ budgets. Canva offers a smart solution that makes it easy for anyone to produce professional-looking marketing materials (with a whole bank of templates in case you’re not that creative minded!).
Opening an account is free and once you do you’ll have access to thousands of free templates you can customise with your own text and images. As well as tailored designs for a wide range of industries there’s all kinds of styles too, from classic and traditional templates to the far-out and fun.
It’s not just printed assets you can create using Canva either! You can make moving Instagram stories and Facebook covers (all in the right dimensions) to upload to your social media channels, as well as personalised marketing presentations, posters, promotional flyers and stationery to use in your business.
Cost: Free with some optional paid elements.
If you’re someone who loves a list, then Trello is for you. This handy organiser lets you assign, track and manage tasks across your team, so you never lose sight of a deadline or drop the ball on an important project.
Handy workflows allow you to keep on top of tasks in real time and to collaborate with other members of your team. You can also automate tasks to save you time and integrate Trello with other apps your business uses (like Goole Drive and Dropbox). It even has an android and iPhone compatible app so you can stay in the loop when you’re not in a fixed location.
Cost: Free or available for a monthly subscription if you want to access a wider selection of features.
Video is one of the most powerful engagement tools businesses can leverage to engage customers and boost website traffic (a big SEO tick), but you don’t have to be a professional video editor to create impressive content.
Using an iPhone app called Veme.ly you can edit and add subtitles to videos imported directly from your photostream, choosing from hundreds of templates and font files. When you’re happy you simply upload your finished video to your social media feeds and then just watch as the likes come flooding in.
Cost: Free but with optional in-app purchases.
One thing every business needs today is a website. The equivalent of a virtual shop window, a website puts you on the map and ensures your company is in the mix when potential customers are searching for a product or service you offer.
While it used to be that you needed a grasp of coding to design a website, creating a professional looking online presence today doesn’t require any such skills. You can get an affordable and great looking site straight ‘out of the box’ simply by using an online website builder – no design skills necessary.
While Wix and Squarespace are two of the better-known template site providers, Weebly offers a similar set-up specifically with small businesses in mind. Its price plans work out much cheaper plus it has a wide range of apps and SEO tools you can tap into, and it’s owned by Square so it’s perfect for ecommerce too.
Cost: Weebly offers four tiers of price plans, the most basic of which is free and the most expensive $25.00 per/month.
If you want to stand out on the web, then keyword optimisation is the way to go about it but engaging a professional SEO agency can be costly. Ubersuggest puts you in the driving seat of your keyword research, showing you the most frequently searched terms in relation to your business, so you know exactly what potential customers are typing into Google.
The free application allows you to make up to three free keyword searches a day and gives you a range of valuable information that SEO agencies charge through the nose for (like keyword search volume, cost per click (PPC) and personal SEO suggestions).
Once you’re armed with this knowledge you can write these keywords into the copy on your website, ensuring that when customers search for these in Google your business appears.
Cost: Free for up to three searches or unlimited access from £29 a month for small businesses.
A professional logo developed with a branding agency can set you back thousands of pounds but if your budget doesn’t stretch that far you can still get a great looking logo for a fraction of the price by using DesignEvo.
An online logo generator, DesignEvo allows you to browse thousands of logo templates related to your industry and customise aspects such as the text, colours and fonts. When you’re happy you simply download your design as a high res PNG you can use for print as well as digital applications.
Cost: Free to design but downloads start from a one-off fee of $24.99.
In business it’s essential to keep an eye on the numbers but if accountancy isn’t your strongpoint help is at hand. Sunrise is a free accountancy software that’s designed with small businesses in mind.
The easy-to-use platform allows you to keep tabs on your incoming and outgoing payments, invoice clients for your services, and accurately track profits and losses, so you always know where you stand financially.
You even have the option of engaging a staff bookkeeper when it’s time to submit your tax return, giving you peace of mind that everything is in order.
Cost: Free but with optional paid for services.
If you’re looking to engage your customers with newsletters and marketing emails, you can’t go wrong with Sendinblue. This intelligent platform allows you to keep connected to your database in four simple steps with professionally designed email templates you can customise with your own branding and content.
Once you’ve settled on a design you simply choose the recipient list and hit send. You can even segment your contacts into groups to make your emails more personal and use Sendinblue’s A/B testing and send-time optimisation to ensure your message always lands at the perfect time.
Cost: Free for up to 300 emails per day. Tailored packages also available.
Customer feedback is essential in understanding what your business is doing right and where it might be going wrong. With freeonlinesurveys.com you can create custom surveys for free and gather responses from up to 1000 recipients – no strings attached.
Designing your survey is easy and makes use of an intelligent assistant that anticipates your question as you’re typing. It’s such a great value tool that even major companies like Amazon, Siemens and Adidas use it.
Cost: Free for up to 1000 respondents.
There’s a lot you need to consider if you’re hiring employees to help grow your business and Freshworks ensures you have all your HR needs in hand. This smart software allows you to easily manage your HR workflows, make new hires, on board team members and keep track of sicknesses and absences.
It can be accessed via desktop or app and has the additional benefit of around the clock free online chat, email and phone support seven days a week. It’s free for up to 50 employees, though for just £39 a month you can access a wider selection of intuitive features.
Cost: Free for a basic plan for up to 50 employees.