Best Free Apps/Tools for Business Owners
When it comes to utilizing apps and tools, most business owners jump for joy when they see the word Free. I know we do! In some instances, you do get what you pay for, but the number of free apps and tools currently out there is pretty incredible.
We wanted to compile a list of free apps and tools that we currently use, have used, or have heard members rave about! Do you use a free app or tool that we didn’t list? We’d love for you to share it with us!
You have your to-do list and you’re ready to conquer it. There tend to be two kinds of people: paper & pen or digital. If your list is a mile long and it’s causing you some anxiety because you don’t know where to start...an app just may work best for you. If you love categorizing out your list and crossing them off, we love the simplicity of paper and pen! Once you start growing your team, this may not work as effectively and one of these might be beneficial for you.
Asana and Trello are raved about by a handful of our members. Our team has used Trello on and off and it’s been extremely useful. On both platforms, you can create different categories, assign team members to tasks, upload necessary documents, and see tasks are due in a calendar view. If you haven’t used either, we would suggest doing a trial run with one of them for a time period and then another trial run with the other. See which format works best for you. Don’t go all-in at on one as you just may regret switching everything over if you’re not fully satisfied!
Paper & Pen
Time is money and if we can find a way to be more efficient, sign me up! Being that we use G-Suite, Google Drive is simply wonderful. We can create documents, share them, and even edit them at the same time during a team meeting. Calendly is a scheduling software. We use it to book tours from our website and to have Feedback Welcome presenters sign up for their presentation date. You get to set the days and times you are available for a meeting, your client can choose what works best, and you don’t have 15 emails going back and forth!
Our member, Kristen Williams utilizes DropBox for files and DropBox Paper for their standard procedures. She loves that you can create a never-ending document, but hide sections you’re not currently working on. Similar to Google Docs, but different features. She also utilizes Loom. You can record yourself navigating your screen while also recording your voice to explain what you are doing. This has been super helpful for her to train her team on different features of their business.
Lastly, Zapier. Zapier has so many amazing features and while we have not yet mastered it, it is the king of automation. “Zapier is the glue that connects more than 1,000 web apps.”
We don’t utilize these two tools, but we have heard about them over and over. Evernote keeps all of your notes for free and if you upgrade you have the ability to organize them and even bring teams together to collaborate.
Hubspot is a software that can help keep your leads organized so you never miss a sales opportunity. It’s a customer relationship management (CRM) system that can keep track of your leads, contact information, tasks, and even email management. Like other software programs, the more you pay the more bells and whistles you receive.
Over-communication can save so much time in many different ways. Making sure you’re doing it effectively is the icing on top. You can use these to communicate with employees, VA’s, or your clients.
We utilize Zoom to work with the gal that helps us with marketing as she travels throughout the US a couple times a year. You can host a meeting up to 40 minutes for free and record it if necessary!
Slack is a messaging platform for teams, organizations, and more. You can join different channels so that you’re only in a conversation you actually need to be in. We use this for our Columbia Ecosystem group to stay in touch about different events and different business startups in the area. One of our sponsors, Hoot Design Co, uses it within their company as they have some team members in their local office who are full time and part-time, plus those who are working remotely. It helps the communication flow and makes sure everyone is on the same page.
Marketing, marketing, marking! Here are some of the social media platforms, tools to help you create content for those platforms, and a couple of links to find great stock photos for your social media and website!
Social Media Platforms
Dare we get into each one of these as that’s a whole other blog post! All of these platforms are free and they are great ways to grow your business. Just make sure that you are concentrating your efforts on where your target market is. We loved the advice, “go deep, not wide.” Be great at one or two platforms instead of “okay” at five of them.
We do want to call out MailChimp on its own. Newsletters, landing pages, social ads, and lead generation are all features of MailChimp. You can get deep down into the weeds, but if you’re needing to simply start your weekly or monthly newsletter this is a great platform!
Image and Video Creation
Oh, canva! We seriously love canva. This tool will make you feel like you are the graphic designer you wished you could be. It offers thousands of templates for anything under the sun; instagram posts, business cards, letterhead, and menus. If you upgrade you can store all of your brand elements (fonts, colors, logos, etc.) so that you never have to search for that perfect matching shade of blue.
Lumen5 is a way for you to create amazing videos to share on your social media accounts. There are templates to use and follow along in a drag and drop fashion.
There is nothing worse than looking for a stock photo and finding one from 1997. Pexels allows you to search through thousands of gorgeous photos and use them for your content. PicMonkey is where you can edit photos and create designs. You know, curate your Instagram feed like a boss!
Social Media Planning
Planning out social media content is not everyone’s cup of tea. I know it’s not ours! We utilize Later for Instagram scheduling and Facebook's own scheduling for our Facebook posts. Sitting down and scheduling out at least two weeks at a time has saved so much time and energy! You can upgrade to receive more features on Later and Planoly, but to begin you can utilize the free version. They both also link to other social media accounts as well. Facebook scheduling is right there on your Facebook business page. You can utilize your Insights to help know when people are on your page and how much they are interacting with each post.
What? Mindfulness? Yes, we’re going there. You can’t run a business without taking care of yourself. The things that seem so simple are the things we tend to forget. Amanda uses the insight timer to do a 5-10 meditation in the morning as it sets the intention for the day ahead. (Parenting hack - she also uses it to help her daughter, Ellie at bedtime as they have guided meditations for kids.)
Did you know you can use your phone for more than just calling, texting, and social media?! If you are struggling with getting a large task started, set a 20-minute timer. This will kick your brain into gear as 20 minutes feels “doable”. Be careful as you might just find yourself working on it past those 20 minutes and actually finish it! For most places, taking a break from your desk to go outside and take a walk will help clear your brain and give your eyes a rest from the screen. It seems unproductive to stop working, but when we give our brain a break it allows for more creativity and productivity!
We are the first to share our love for coffee, but...put your mug down and grab some water. It’s so essential, but yet we forget that we really need to drink half of our weight in ounces every.single.day!
Fresh Air & Sunshine
What free resources are we missing? We’d love to add to our list!