8 Wallet Friendly Alternatives To Expensive Business Software
This Christmas, we will give you the gift of great apps to help you grow your business at a reasonable price.
I am a firm believer that successful marketing doesn’t need to be too expensive or too complex. The best marketing and business solutions out there are no longer exclusive to the large corporations, with whole dedicated marketing teams and deep (very deep) pockets. You can too grow your business using software applications even on a shoestring budget.
Here are the top 10 wallet friendly alternatives to expensive business softwares:
With Microsoft Office 365 for Business starting at £100 per package, it would be nice to have an alternative. Now you do, with Google Docs.
Part of Google Drive, Google Docs is an the go to feature for many small business owners. Similarly to the programs that come with a Microsoft pack, Google Docs allows you to create word processing, spreadsheets, documents, presentations, forms and even maps. You can share documents, invite other members of your team to edit a file with you, by giving them comment or view access. For example, we use Google Docs to share and edit our blog posts before they are published, including this one!
Some of the features exclusive to Google are the option to view your documents’ revision history and rollback to any version and much more. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
#2 SEO and Analytics
Why do I need SEO I hear you ask? Well, because 93% of people looking for services and products do so using a search engine and your business being positioned as a result of this search is the ultimate goal. To your aid come tools such as SEM Rush (helps you research how products are advertised as well as finding the best way to phrase advertising text) and MOZ (helping you to track and improve your SEO, social, branding, link building, and content marketing efforts etc.). Don’t get me wrong, these apps are fantastic but with starting prices at $79 per month and $99 per month respectively, SEM Rush and MOZ could well be out of your price range. In addition, those tools are relatively complicated and require a certain level of SEO knowledge and understanding.
Instead, you should try Webmaster Tools, Google’s very own response to SEM Rush and MOZ. A lot simpler to use, Webmaster tools runs a diagnostic check on your site, identifying areas that need improvement for better search rankings and it helps you understand how people are finding your website.
In this day and age no self-respecting business (or business looking for growth in that matter) is ever complete without a Sales and Marketing Automation app. The big guys in this area are Infusionsoft and HubSpot however with prices starting at $199 per month and $140 per month, it turns out that they are not quite within reach for most small businesses.
A great (and much cheaper) alternative to Infusionsoft and Hubspot is InTouch. With the key automation features you need at a fraction of the cost, InTouch is the go to entry-level sales and marketing automation solution. From collecting customer data on your website or offline, through to automated follow-up campaigns, audience segmentation, email marketing and team tasks, InTouch has a suite of tools to get you started with simple but effective sales and marketing campaigns.
Unlike other CRM software, InTouch has been specifically designed to meet the needs of small business owners, meaning the app is easy to use, there is no complicated lingo and the packages have been priced to match what small business can afford.
#4 Accounting Software
No business is ever complete without an accounting software. The options are countless but the default choice for many years was Sages. This is one of the best accounting solutions but it comes at a (hefty) price and is more suitable for accounting professionals or companies that have a person dedicated to dealing with finance.
For those one-man-show businesses or smaller companies, how about trying Kashflow or FreshBooks. These give you the necessary tools to manage your income, invoices and payments. You will be able to see which of your customers we you payments, what are the payments you have made recently and profit and loss reports.
#5 Project Management
Microsoft Project is the go to solution for large corporations with large projects. In case that’s a bit out of your range, both in terms of scale and price (£368) you can always go for Trello. Like a whiteboard with super powers, Trello is simple to use and infinitely flexible. You’ll know exactly what needs to get done, who’s going to do it, and what’s coming up next. Plus, everything you do is synced and saved instantly to the cloud, so that all your devices are always up to date. It get’s better.
Trello’s free! Give it a try!
#6 Social Media Management
I don’t need to tell you that Social Media should play a key role in your marketing strategy. There is a sea of articles, blog posts and videos examining the importance of being social. So far so good but how do you manage it all? With all the responsibilities that come with being a business owner, it is doubtful you will have the time to post social media updates every day.
But do not fret, that’s what social media management is for. In the heavyweight high-end corner we’ve got solutions like SproutSocial (starting at $59 per month) and HubSpot Social (starting at $140 per month).
In the small business corner we’ve got Hootsuite. This social management application that only cost a fraction of the price however has all the features you will ever need from a small business perspective. Schedule updates, respond to messages, manage all your social accounts from a single page, monitor engagement and much more. What else will you ever need?
#7 Human Resources
HR management tools are perfect for centralizing your employees information in a systematic way that will make it easier and more efficient to manage your staff. You can go for a high end solution like BambooHR however this particular tool is much more suited for big businesses with hundreds of employees.
Instead try PeopleHR. You will be just a click away from finding and editing employee records, reviewing and authorising holiday requests, track and tackle absences, and even discover useful insights about your workforce. All this for £1 per employee. Not bad at all!
#8 Document Management
Going paperless can save your business tons of time and a lot of money. Indeed, keeping paper copies of documentation, means dealing with expenses such as printer maintenance to ink and storage space.
Document management software lets you combine digital and paper documents into a single digital repository, store and share files, and make sure you never lose an important file ever again.
You can go for a solution like FileShare ($29.95 per month) which allows you amongst other things, to create folders and share files. Or you can go for DropBox, which also allows you to create folders and share files… for free.
Of course it’s not quite as black and white but DropBox is a great starting place for online storage. With a basic Dropbox account you get up to 2GB of free cloud storage and native support for Linux and Blackberry, as well as Windows, Mac OS, iOS, and Android.
There are plenty of applications out there that can make your life easier and your business more efficient without leaving a dent in your pocket. So go ahead and give these apps a try! Do you have any other suggestions and additions to this list? Feel free to share your favourite dupes for expensive business software applications.