The best free software for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) streamlines and simplifies the management of mundane office administrative tasks.
Setting up a small business is challenging enough without adding the cost of expensive software licenses. Some business owners try to use as little software as possible to keep their costs down, but this doesn’t mean they have to.
The same open-source mentality that drives much of the internet has also permeated commercial software creation. To sum up, many businesses can benefit from the wide variety of free software services and business apps available today.
As a result, you can use any of a wide variety of free options, including but not limited to: office programs, accounting programs, communication programs, project management programs, internet security programs, and data backup programs.
Free software for small businesses doesn’t have to be useless or subpar because of the perception that it can’t compare to paid software. Free trials and downloads of software are great resources for learning about your options.
This article will discuss the best free small business software that can perform various tasks and functions.
The best free project management software is Trello. It will help your company create and test workflows and manage tasks.
Keeping track of what’s being done, who’s doing it, and what needs to be done at any given time is the bedrock of effective project management. Think of a whiteboard with sticky notes for Trello’s implementation of the Kanban method, which was developed as part of Toyota’s highly effective just-in-time manufacturing process.
Make a list of tasks and watch as they are completed by different people and assigned to different columns to see how things are progressing and who is responsible for what.
Because each task card, which is deceptively simple on the surface, can contain all the information you need to store about each task, Trello is a great way to keep your projects organized even if you’re using it alone.
For smaller projects, the free version’s unlimited boards and projects and low file attachment space should be sufficient. A deserving newcomer to our top 10 list of project management tools.
Believe it or not, talking to your coworkers on Slack is one of the best-approved ways to waste time at the office. There is more to this online collaboration tool than spreading the latest memes and cat pictures around the office; many businesses now consider it indispensable.
For starters, it’s incredibly simple to manage; if you’re starting a new project, you can start a new chat channel for it right away, invite the relevant people to it and start exchanging updates, ideas, and files.
You can install bots in each channel to carry out various business functions or connect to other services. It is fully integrated with Google’s office suite, so related documents can be attached to each channel for easy access.
And if you have a team spread out across different time zones, it’s a great way to keep them in the loop on the latest business chitchat without flooding their inboxes with unnecessary messages.
3. Comodo Business Security
Virus protection software isn’t usually at the bottom of anyone’s list, but license restrictions have made us put it there. You might think giving your users antivirus software like Avast, AVG, or Avira would suffice. Technically, we have no doubt they would be completely protected.
However, if you read the fine print, you’ll see that the free versions aren’t licensed for business use, which is a problem because your company certainly doesn’t need legal trouble.
Try Comodo Business Security instead; it’s free and has a license agreement that explicitly allows for use in a commercial setting. It’s a good, no-frills package that works with both Windows and Mac computers; yes, there’s the usual free AV upgrade hassle, and yes, you’ll get more features and stronger security for your business if you do leap, but for zero-cost protection, it does the job just fine.
Today, Google’s free email service Gmail has more than a billion users worldwide since being released in 2004.
In terms of free email clients, it is top-notch. Gmail’s user interface is clean and intuitive. Additionally, it has a stellar reputation as a spam-blocking email client.
It’s great that Gmail has such a streamlined web interface. Your inbox will take up most of the screen, with just a few buttons and menus for navigation.
Even if this is your first time using email, you’ll be able to read and respond to messages with ease thanks to the thoughtful conversational organization.
In this area, you will find an abundance of energy. With dynamic mail, you can respond to things like surveys and comments on Google Docs without ever leaving Gmail.
A user’s inbox can be automatically organized into tabs for different types of messages, such as “Primary,” “Social,” and “Promotions,” to make it easier to find specific types of information. You can manage multiple accounts (Outlook, Yahoo, and other IMAP or POP email services) from the same interface, and you have 15GB of space for your inbox, Drive, and photos.
Additionally, Google Chrome is required for offline use of Gmail. In addition, you can use the handy snooze function to put off reading an email for a predetermined amount of time (it also automatically labels that email as important).
Other aspects are more dubious. Filtering messages requires a unique labeling system rather than, say, filing them into folders, a simple metaphor that nearly every user can grasp. This does its job and offers some benefits, but not everyone finds it to their liking. Even so, Gmail is a great option for those looking for their first email service.
LibreOffice, the open-source successor to OpenOffice, is your best bet if you need Microsoft Word and Excel compatibility. The two programs’ user interfaces are very similar.
It’s the top-rated free program of its kind. Its interface is very similar to that of Microsoft Office, and its features are interchangeable with those of that program.
It also has its own database program and a set of presentation tools similar to PowerPoint. It comes complete with its own word processor and editor.
There are several alternatives to Microsoft Office, but LibreOffice is likely the best. This is because it is both feature-rich and capable of keeping the formatting of Microsoft Office files even when they are opened in a different program.
Therefore, if you need an office software suite but would rather not pay for it and you don’t want to use a cloud-based service, then LibreOffice may be the best option for you.
6. Wave Invoicing
Correct invoicing is crucial. If you need to collect money from someone, you should do so in a way that makes you look reliable, gets you the money as quickly as possible, and leaves as little hassle for the person you’re paying as possible. Wave is a free, cross-platform app that makes all these things possible, including the creation of invoices that can be sent directly from your phone.
You can use Wave to accept credit card payments if you like; the service generates revenue through a small transaction fee and is otherwise cost-free.
Invoice templates can help you get paid faster, and Wave will remind people who are overdue on their payments automatically. You can issue estimates and quotes in addition to full invoices, and the templates can be modified to include your company’s logo and colors. It also handles sales taxes. It’s a convenient one-stop billing center.
7. Adminsoft Accounts
Take care of your finances, and you know what happens next. While Adminsoft Accounts’ interface is a bit clumsy (okay, a lot clumsy) and its use can be confusing initially, the software’s extensive features make it well worth the effort. Designed by a small business owner to meet the needs of other small business owners, it supports multiple currencies and can easily handle a growing clientele.
You’ll be able to keep tabs on inventory, make purchases, handle various human resources tasks, monitor finances, and more. We’ll leave this with one small disclaimer: if you ever decide to upgrade to more robust accounting software like Sage 50, you may have to put in some extra work to get your data out of Adminsoft Accounts and into Sage.
Your company’s safety relies on your ability to restore data from backups reliably. The loss of a hard drive can have devastating consequences. If you want to do it right, remember the “rule of three”: keep three copies of your most important data in at least two locations, with one copy kept off-site in case of a natural disaster.
The best option is Duplicati because it is free and open source, encrypts your data before backing it up, and lets you choose multiple destinations for your backups. A local storage device, a fileserver you set up on your own, or even a cloud service would qualify.
When it comes to keeping its archives up to date, it only needs to send a small amount of data each time it runs because it can perform incremental backups after the initial backup. Once it’s up and running, you’ll be safe, but it’s not pretty and may require some technical know-how to get it (and any backup targets you’ve designated for it) up and running.
The rewards of managing an SMB equal the difficulties of doing so. As a small or medium-sized business, one of the most significant challenges you face is managing the growing costs of operations.
If your company falls into the small to medium size range and you’re looking for ways to improve efficiency, choose some free business software to test out based on your organization’s needs. Doing so can determine which tools are worthwhile and which are unnecessary.