Starting a new business can be time consuming and expensive. Luckily there are plenty of great services available for businesses that can save you time and don’t cost you anything at all! You can easily make your business more efficient and profitable, with no additional overhead. So here are our picks for the top 10 free services for small businesses:
- Google Voice (Phone)
Google Voice offers a simple phone service that allows you to take calls on your smartphone or on the web. You receive a free phone number with calling, texting, and voicemail available. You can also forward calls to any phone number. Setup is simple, and there are no costs for using the service (within the US and Canada).
The downside is that you must upgrade to a paid version to get extra features like an auto attendant and desk phone support. The paid version also requires a G Suite account, further increasing the cost of the paid version. That being said, G Suite is a great solution for emails, online documents, cloud storage, and more. So there is still value in the paid version. There just may be other options out there for phones which are more affordable than the paid version.
A close second place – FreshCaller is another great option for your phone service and has more features than Google Voice. It also integrates with the other Freshworks products such as Freshdesk (see the FreshDesk description below for more information). It would make our top choice for phone service over Google, but the free version lacks one crucial feature that is free with Google Voice – voicemail. The numbers available are also relatively limited, especially for toll-free numbers.
The cheapest option for Freshcaller with voicemail is $19 per month. Phone numbers cost $1 per month for local numbers and $2 per month for toll-free numbers, which is very affordable, but it keeps Freshcaller from being truly free even though there is a free plan. They also reel in customers by starting them out on a trial of the paid version, so you may sign up and set up voicemail only to find out later that your callers are being hung up on if you don’t answer! So make sure you are aware of the features of each plan before trying this service.
2. Freshdesk (Help desk)
Freshdesk is a help desk system that provides a system for your customers to find answers and request support. You can easily build a knowledge base to answer customers questions (and reduce support requests). Customers can also open support tickets when they can’t find the answer in your knowledge base. Support tickets can also be automatically opened when you receive mail to a specified address. This allows easy tracking of each issue so you can provide consistent and effective service.
Freshdesk also integrates with the other Freshworks software such as Freshchat, Freshcaller, and Freshping – so you can also open support tickets for each call or chat. This is very convenient to have one centralized system for support. And considering that there is a free option for each part of the system, it’s no wonder why this system is so popular. If it wasn’t for the limitations of the free plans for Freshcaller and Freshchat, we would recommend the entire Freshworks platform. But as noted above about the phone system, there are some important features that are missing from the free plans. So while we do recommend Freshworks, we also suggest carefully looking at the features which are included in each plan.
3. Mailchimp (Email Marketing)
Mailchimp is an email marketing service that allows you to craft effective email marketing campaigns easily. You can collect email addresses with custom forms, send emails, make landing pages, and more. The service is relatively easy to set up and works well without the need for upgrading.
Although you can use the free version without the need to upgrade, you are required to have MailChimp branding in your forms and emails. Upgrading removes this requirement and allows for a more custom branded look. Monthly plans and pay as you go plans are available, with the pay as you go plans seeming to be better for smaller businesses with fewer emails to send.
Other popular free email marketing services include SendGrid and SendinBlue. SendGrid may be a better solution for businesses with more advanced needs. SendinBlue is more similar to MailChimp, and their paid plans are more affordable than MailChimp. So it may be a better solution for businesses which need the features of a paid email marketing plan.
4. WordPress (CMS)
WordPress, which was founded in 2003, is a content management system that is used to run around a third of all websites. Many well-known companies use WordPress for their websites. It is well known, reliable, and well supported. Web designers are used to working with WordPress, so it’s easy to find someone to design a custom WordPress website for you. There are thousands of developers who make plugins for WordPress, so any missing features can be easily added.
WordPress is the most flexible CMS; however, it is not quite as intuitive to use as your typical drag-and-drop website builders like Weebly, Wix, Squarespace, or Shopify. So while it will give you the ability to have the best possible website, it may take some help from a professional designer to get the most out of a WordPress website.
If you do need professional help with the design and setup of your WordPress website, we offer a simple solution. Our affordable monthly plans include a domain, custom WordPress website, hosting, SEO, and more!
You can learn more about WordPress in our article about why you should use WordPress for your website.
5. WooCommerce (E-commerce)
While WordPress is a great CMS, it lacks e-commerce features. Luckily there is a great e-commerce platform built for WordPress called WooCommerce. It’s been around since 2011 and has become a very popular system for online stores. Much like WordPress, WooCommerce is very flexible, but it is also very basic in functionality until you add plugins. With plugins, there is no limit to what you can do with your online store when using WooCommerce.
While there are other e-commerce platforms out there including easier to use website builder systems, WooCommerce offers the most options, and it’s free to use. That being said, most of the plugins are not free. However, plugins are usually very affordable and offer a high level of customization. If you can think of a feature, there’s a plugin for it. And if not, you can easily find a developer to make it.
6. Google Docs (Office Suite)
Google Docs is an office suite made up of a word processor (Docs), spreadsheet app (Sheets), presentation app (Slides), and form-maker (Forms). With this powerful set of cloud-based apps, there is no need to purchase expensive office suite software like Microsoft Office. You also get the benefits of the cloud, such as automatic saving and the ability to easily collaborate on documents with members of your team. The best part about Google Docs is that there is no upsell. It’s a truly free office suite solution.
Other great free solutions for office suite software are OpenOffice and Microsoft’s Office Online. OpenOffice is a more traditional application which is installed directly on your computer rather than being online-based like Google Docs. But much like Docs, this is a truly free solution with no upsell. Office Online is Microsoft’s free cloud based office suite. It’s a good solution for anyone who prefers to use Microsoft’s software, especially for those using their OneDrive cloud storage.
7. Google Hangouts (Video Conferencing)
With online collaboration becoming the norm, video conferencing has become an integral tool for many businesses. The ability to directly speak with a group of people is a great way to avoid unnecessary meetings, get better feedback out of a conversation, and have a professional yet personal interaction. Google Hangouts offers the ability to video chat with multiple people, screen share, and more. You can use any smartphone or computer to start a video call, so you can easily communicate no matter where you are.
8. Slack (Collaboration/Project Management)
Another great example of an online collaboration tool is Slack. Helping to keep teams organized and focused, Slack offers many features to keep projects moving forward. You can make channels and set who sees each channel so you can keep each part of your team in the loop without any unnecessary information overloading them. Team members can leave channels as needed, so they won’t get stuck in conversations that they are done with. Everything is searchable, so you have a way to go back and check details of projects when you need to.
The free plan is limited to the most recent 10,000 messages, file storage is limited to 5GB, and you are limited to a maximum of 10 third-party or custom apps. There is no limit to how long you can use the free plan, so it’s a nice tool for small businesses to help their team stay on track with projects.
9. Square (Payment Processing)
Online stores have to be well designed, so the customer has an enjoyable shopping experience. One of the most crucial parts of the shopping process is payment processing. If there are problems with your payment processor, you may end up losing sales. You also must count on the security of your payment processor as they are dealing with sensitive private data. And of course, you must also consider the processing fees which can quickly add up.
Square offers a well known and trusted payment processing solution. It is simple to use, and the fees are very reasonable. While the service is free to use, you are charged a payment processing fee of 2.75% for each transaction. (fees for invoices are charged a 2.9% + 30¢ fee – 3.5% + 15¢ if processed using a saved card).
A close second place – Stripe is another great solution for payment processing. It is very similar to Square, including the fees. The payment processing fee is a flat 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction. Depending on your individual needs, Stripe may be a good choice for your payment processing needs. Some plugins or features may require a certain payment processor. For example, WooCommerce’s subscription payment plugin currently doesn’t support Square for recurring payments, so Stripe is the better choice for WordPress websites with the WooCommerce subscriptions plugin.
10. Wave (Accounting)
Wave offers a simple and secure way to keep track of your business expenses. Simply connect your bank accounts and credit cards to sync data to your Wave account. Having your accounting organized can help you when it comes time for tax season. Save yourself the headache and expenses of last-minute tax planning and get your company’s finances in order the easy way. You can also use Wave for invoicing, so if you don’t already use Square or another platform for invoices, it’s another plus of using Wave.
Page loading time is an important factor in Search engine optimization and user experience. So you should make sure that the pictures on your website are optimized. Reducing the file size of images can improve load times leading to a lower bounce rate (fewer lost visitors) and improved SEO. You can easily compress your PNG and JPEG images with TinyPNG. It simply decreases the number of colors in your images thereby reducing the file size. The change to the image quality is usually not even noticeable and the change in file size is significant.
As you can see, there are plenty of free services available for your small business. You can get your business organized, attract customers, look like a larger company, handle your finances, and more – all for free. So make sure to leverage these options and take your business to the next level without breaking the bank.