Top 5 free online tools for your small business
This post is an overview of the best free online tools for small businesses in 2022.
It is aimed at small business owners feeling overwhelmed by the array of ‘must have’ techy, ‘shiny objects’ that tempt you to buy them.
I’d like to share how you can make your life easier AND save money, because I’ve been there myself. To consistently make a profit when you’re starting out in business, one of the key things to do is to reduce your costs.
I have been working online for many years and since setting up my own business in 2018, have researched and tried out SO many things. I’ve spent (wasted?) hundreds of pounds on tech that I didn’t need. It really ate into my margins – I made a loss my first year from a combination of not having many clients, and spending too much on tech I thought I needed.
In the early days, I was overwhelmed trying to work out which piece of kit was best for me. I’d buy one, then see another one that looked better, or feel that because someone said they couldn’t manage without x y or z, I had to have it too.
Fast forward to now, and I have cut out most of the things I hastily purchased when I started out. I’ve scaled it all back to the mostly FREE basic tools I need to keep my business operating effectively, efficiently and growing nicely.
I now have a pretty low monthly cost outlay, so I have written this post to help you to avoid making the same costly mistakes that I did.
Free tools are not crap!
I have noticed some people have the mindset of, ‘if it’s free….it must be crap’.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
In my experience, tech companies give you their best stuff for free in the hope that when your business grows, you’ll upgrade to the next pricing tier. You don’t get all of the functionality but when you’re starting out, or you have a relatively small audience, you don’t need all the functionality.
My low running costs
Before I share the top 5 free online tools with you, I want to share how much it costs to run my business.
My average monthly costs are usually under £50. Yes, that’s all.
The bulk of this cost is my annual website hosting because I went with a high quality, secure company but the rest are small monthly subscriptions.
What I pay for:
- Annual website hosting
- Annual domain name registration
- Google Workspace (for my domain email)
- Canva Pro
- Annual Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) registration (keeping your and your clients’ data safe is very important to me)
I also paid for lifetime access to some premium web design tools, and I pass on these savings to clients because they benefit when I’m building their new website. I also invest in refresher training, or work with a coach when I need to.
My Top 5 FREE tools for small business owners
The basic ‘kit’ I need to run my business includes a number of free tools, and I will share the best ones with you. These are the things I use daily or weekly and couldn’t manage without.
I built my website using WordPress and a paid premium theme (see above), but the WordPress.org platform is free, and there are hundreds of free themes to get you stared. WordPress enables you to create your own website or blog, your way, (but you will need to pay for your domain name and your hosting).
Fabulous free plugins include Woo commerce for an online store to sell your products and services.
2. A Google account
Let’s look at the top 5 most popular search engines in the world (info correct as of January 2022).
- Google has a staggering 91.42% of the search market share – WOW
- Microsoft Bing has just 6% and the rest have a TINY share:
Google has such a wide reach and it’s an SEO tool.
It can help your business to rank better if you have everything synced up within Google. Your free account gives you access to:
- Google My Business (Really helps your SEO so go ahead and create your free listing)
- Google Drive
A business must-have is a Canva account. Canva is a design platform and is wonderful for beginners.
You can create graphics, social media posts and all manner of documents using their templates, which over time will inspire you to create your own. Why not have a go at a ‘do it yourself’ logo, using one of Canva’s free logo templates.
Read my blog post about simple business branding here.
There are tons of templates and tutorials, and if you want to upgrade, for around £11 per month you get access to their Pro account. This is a great example of what I mentioned earlier – the additional functionality in the Pro account isn’t really needed when you’re starting out but it is worth the investment if you’re using it regularly like me, to create graphics for multiple clients.
In 2021 I switched from Mailchimp to Mailerlite. It’s fab and your free account allows you to have up to 1000 contacts in your mailing list, and send up to 12,000 emails per month. This is more than enough if you’re starting out and want to start growing your email list and send regular newsletters or welcome sequences.
With Mailerlite you can:
- Send professional, branded emails
- Set up automated emails and sequences
- Build sign up forms, pop ups and landing pages
- Really get to know your audience by using Groups and Tags
- There’s lots more!
I’m a certified Mailerlite expert, so if you need a hand setting up or optimising your account and email marketing, check out my Email Marketing services; or ask me about some training.
Invest the savings in something you love
This is not meant to be a lecture on how you spend your money. However, even if you have pots of money, making savings where you can means you can invest in the things you really need and love. That could be a fabulous holiday, those shoes you’ve had your eye on, a session with your coach or therapist…..whatever floats your boat!.
By keeping things simple, cutting out the unnecessary extra costs and reducing the number of ‘must have’ ‘shiny objects’ you’re tempted by, you’ll ensure your small business is a lean profit-making machine.
And your life will be so much easier.
About the author
Jackie Salmon is an email marketing expert, Kajabi specialist and web designer based in the North East of England. She loves to support 'people who help people' and works with coaches, therapists and consultants, helping them to market their services and products online.