Small businesses and startups face some serious challenges, the biggest of which is finance. So not only do new companies need all the help they can get when it comes to the daily obstacles of launching and running a business, but they also need to save money wherever possible. Perhaps needless to say then, free resources are a huge advantage for small businesses. Fortunately, today’s highly connected digital landscape provides a wealth of free and open-source tools to help entrepreneurs succeed. These are the top free resources for new businesses:
Social media has changed the face of business marketing because it offers many advantages, not the least of which is that it is free. If your company hasn’t established a presence on the top sites, begun expanding its network, and started connecting with a targeted audience, you are at a huge disadvantage.
Social media and blogging go hand in hand. Company blogs are an extension of social media and an invaluable tool in online marketing campaigns. And because images are a crucial part of blogging, Flickr is an incredible resource for business bloggers. They have the largest and most accessible database of Creative Commons Licensed photos on the web today.
Google Docs is a powerful business tool for those who need to collaborate in real time and with clients and associates. It is a transparent platform for brainstorming, sharing work, and sparking creativity.
Freshbooks lets businesses invoice, collect payments, and track time for billing. It keeps data in the cloud, so it can be accessed from anywhere, and streamlines accounts payable and receivable, saving your company time and money.
This great web resource lets you create, distribute, and track email newsletters. Thanks to MailChimp, a process that once took all day and caused countless headaches is now quick, easy, and (best of all) free.
Basically a network of free business consultants, SCORE is dedicated to helping small businesses succeed. This non-profit organization offers mentorship services, free business tools, workshops, and counseling.
Websites are essential for all small businesses today, and good site design means that more customers and potential customers make it to your sales page. Code Academy offers free coding tutorials so that you can streamline your site and increase your bottom line without needing to hire an expert.
Skype offers free international conference calling over the web. If you haven’t started using it yet, download it now and get started.
There is always something new to learn in your industry, and you can always become better at your job. TED talks offer insights into emerging technologies and cutting edge innovations. Check them out to see what you can learn today.
If your website is under construction, but soon to debut, LaunchRock is the perfect free resource for your small business. It collects email addresses and hypes your site during prelaunch so you can hit the ground running as soon as your site goes live. This can be a real boost for new businesses struggling to re-coop the initial outlay to set up their business, the quicker you can gain orders the better.
Though these ten web tools are amongst the best and most accessible ones available today, there are countless other resources on the Internet that cater to the unique industries and requirements of businesses of all shapes and sizes. So be sure to spend some time reading blogs and doing a bit of research into the specific tools that might be a major boon for your company. The resources you need to succeed are out there; finding and implementing them is the only thing standing between you and a business that operates more efficiently.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Heisenberg Media