Building a startup means you need all the help you can get - preferably without any costs. Since you’re not making any profit yet and you’re probably already spending money to set up your company, having free tools by your side will make your life a whole lot easier. There are hundreds, possibly thousands of free tools out there, some of them specifically beneficial for startups and smaller businesses.
Read on for some of the top software for startups and small businesses that won’t cost you a dime:
The Name App: Check your domain’s availability
The Name App lets you check if a name is available for your business. Not only does it check for website availability with .com, .net, .co and .me domains, social network account names are also looked at - specifically Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr. These sites are checked individually, with a red dot indicator if it’s already taken, and a green one if the name is still available.
This tiny tool can help you nail down a business name, or make changes if your original pick is already used by another entity. They also offer an app for iOS devices, and a free domain with a BlueHost web hosting purchase. You can use the name tool as you wish without creating an account or entering any personal information.
StockSnap.io: Stunning images for free
If you are looking for photos to use for your website as background images or to highlight certain sections, then StockSnap.io is something you should check out. They offer free quality stock photos all without copyright restrictions, so you can use them without worries of getting complaints. All the images uploaded on their site fall under the creative commons CC0 license, meaning you can copy, edit, and distribute them on any site without any permission needed.
They have dozens of categories - people, business, food, city, nature, fashion, cars, health, fitness, and many more. You can also sort the images by relevance, date, trending, views, downloads, and user tagged favorites. Just like The Name App, you can use the site freely without subscriptions.
Wrike: Team collaboration and task management
Sticky notes and bulletin boards are cute and fairly useful tools to help assign and organize tasks, track their progress, and keep workflows visible for every member of the team. It only works when everyone is in the office, though, so why not make use of a software to keep everyone in line with assignments, and schedules?
Wrike focuses not only on team collaboration, but also on streamlining the workflow for a simpler and attainable process visible to the whole team. Each member is equipped with a personal dashboard where individual assigned task are shown, while shared tasks can be seen via the team dashboard. You can also use the timeline calendar to schedule important events and adjust specific task duration.
The free account lets you add up to 5 users - perfect for startups with only a handful of members. You need to fill in a few pieces of information about your company and verify your email address before you can access the dashboard, but it takes only a few seconds to complete this step.
Benchmark: A comprehensive email marketing solution
Getting in touch with your customers via email blast is one of the most effective ways of disseminating information about offers and promos. Benchmark offers a free account where you can create email campaigns for 2,000 subscribers, with up to 14,000 emails per month. While specialized email automation, A/B testing, and targeted emailing are taken out of the feature list (these are only available via their paid plans), you can still use their intuitive drag and drop editor with their responsive template set and send basic automated emails.
With Google Analytics, you can also see which email strategies are working, and with heatmap reports you can track which designs and layouts are most successful. Creating an account needs some information about yourself and the organization, but you can then start creating emails.
Typeform: Create forms in seconds
Forms are excellent tools when it comes to learning more about your customers, whether the purpose is to identify their preferences, or to gather their thoughts regarding a product or service provided. Typeform offers ready-made templates like registration and contact forms, customer satisfaction surveys, event registration, and a whole lot more for easy form creation
Of course, you can always start from scratch and add elements that are a good fit for your form’s purpose. These include drop down lists, multiple choice, picture choice, opinion scales, legal footnotes, and a welcome and thank you screen. As for the templates, while there is a set of questions within each form, you can edit and customize their content as you see fit.
All forms come with an analysis report where you can see the engagement of visitors to each form per device, the results of surveys and polls, and the general stats of your forms. The free package allows up to 100 responses per month, with 10 fields per form, which is more than enough for startups to gather information and get answers from clients.
Note: Some of their templates are available only to paid subscribers - you may have to check the forms individually to see if they’re free to use.
Hootsuite: Manage social media in one place
Social media is a must for business today - an effective way to engage your audience and deliver information instantly. If you have multiple accounts from different sites, why not use Hootsuite to conveniently manage them all from one dashboard? Their free plan lets you add up to 3 social media profiles, schedule 30 posts in advance, and track your follower growth with basic analytics. You can make noise among your followers with lead capture contests, find relevant and interesting content with 2 RSS feed integration, and integrate up to 150 apps into your dashboard for a centralized workflow. The plan is limited to only one user though, but this shouldn’t be too much of a problem if only your team is handling the social media accounts.
Setmore: Flexible calendar appointment organizer
Growing your startup company usually means reaching out not only to clients but also to potential partners. And since your business is starting, you want to catch most, if not all of the appointments regardless of their nature. With the help of an online appointment scheduler like Setmore, your meetings are organized and can be accessed through any device. Moreover, interested parties can request an appointment directly from their browser or mobile device without having to call or email, saving you both time and effort.
You can see your whole day, week, and month’s appointment schedule in one glance. With a simple drag and drop feature, you can reschedule appointments and avoid double bookings. The app is extremely flexible, and can be integrated into a multitude of platforms: social media, websites, calendar sync apps, and business software.
SlickPie: Accounting made easy
When it’s time for your company to sort finances SlickPie is an accounting software worthy of your attention. Even if you have zero knowledge on accounting and financials, you won’t feel intimidated with their interface - it was specifically designed to reflect data as simply and visually as possible. Aside from generating accounting reports, the highlight of their software is invoice creation. They have invoice templates ready for use which are fully customizable for each individual client. You can also set recurring invoices which are automatically sent on a schedule, so you won’t miss billing your clients. Meanwhile, they can pay the bill on the spot just by clicking on a link on the invoice itself and choosing a payment method - via credit card or PayPal. SlickPie is a must for startups with basic financial reporting and invoicing needs.
Freshdesk: provide excellent customer service
As customers arrive inquiring and transacting with your company, you’ll need software to address their concerns efficiently, without missing a single message. Freshdesk offers an intuitive customer relations management software with comprehensive features to provide excellent support. Tickets from customers are tracked and assigned to those team members who can handle the concern best or fastest, while tickets with the same issue can be linked to identify wider problems and facilitate a consistent response.
You can also set up self-service solutions by linking knowledge base articles and forum topics to the tickets. Email, phone and basic social channels are also made available to answer customers’ queries.
Freshdesk’s free account allows for unlimited agents, so you can just keep adding new team members as your company grows.
Additional resource: Startup Stash
Startup Stash is a good place to look for tools and resources for your startup. They’ve pooled over 400 tools that are most beneficial to startup companies from different sources, and gathered each of their descriptions from social media, CrunchBase, AngelList and Wikipedia to give a better idea of their functions. You can use the search bar to get a list of tools relevant to your keywords, or you can browse them by category instead. Aside from the usual domain and business centered categories, they also house unique software like idea generation, mockups and wireframing, mobile analytics, raising capital, investor relations, and many, many more.
Best of all, you don’t need to sign up for anything - you can search for tools right off the bat. The downside here is that they don’t rank their tools, nor do they allow user ratings or reviews, so you can’t tell how good people think they are. That said, the tools in Startup Stash are curated by their team, so there is at least a filtering process before these tools end up in the list.
You’ll be facing many challenges for your startup, from conceptualizing your product or service, funding its initial operations and finding the right people for the team, right up to publicising your company and hunting for customers willing to try what you’re offering. Isn’t it a relief to know that there are free tools out there to make your processes faster and more organized, giving convenience to you and your customers? Without any ongoing costs, there’s no reason not to sign up and use them. Go ahead, check out these tools and watch your business run like a well-oiled machine.