Anyone who starts a new business -- no matter how big or small —knows that sinking feeling as you watch the bills pile up and your first sale seems way off in some distant, uncertain future. Fortunately, you don't have to pay for everything.
As co-owner of a recently launched business, I searched for ways to save our operation some scratch. Here are some of the free products and services I found that new business owners might find useful.
EMAIL – Google Apps for Business offers a service to host email with your domain name. You can have up to 10 email addresses for free. Fair warning: this email product can be a little tricky to set up. Or maybe I'm just dense.
EMAIL NEWSLETTERS – For email newsletters, MailChimp has easy-to-use systems and templates and a slick brand. They offer a "Forever Free" plan so you don’t have to worry about the old bait-and-switch after you sign up.
FILE SHARING – Dropbox and shared folders are one of the Internet's most wonderful inventions. It gives you 2 GB of storage for free, which is admittedly small, but if you keep your folders clean it should serve you well.
SCREEN SHARING – Join.Me is an uber-simple way to share your screen with others, which can come in really handy [for tech support purposes or with other colleagues, for example—ed.]. It only takes a few minutes to install and then seconds to share your screen with anyone.
PRESS RELEASES – At freepressrelease.com, you can announce your launch or other bits of news about your new venture.
STOCK PHOTOS – If you occasionally need stock photos, check out morguefile.com. Sure, it’s no iStockPhoto, but it is free. MorgueFile reminds us that the web’s "share and share alike" nature is alive and well.
KNOWLEDGE – YouTube can be incredibly valuable. I used it to research equipment, watch tutorials on software, get business tips, and so on. Yes, we all love videos of cats playing piano, but YouTube can actually be useful too.
WEBSITE TRAFFIC – Google Analytics is a ridiculously powerful tool for measuring website traffic and metrics. Though it can be a bit overwhelming. Bonus points to anyone who can suggest a (free) good resource for putting Analytics to use.
These suggestions barely scratch the surface of all the great free tools out there. Hooray for free stuff!
Shawn Currie is co-owner of Lookio Books with his wife, Christine. A Lookio book is a customized, one of a kind children's book. At www.lookiobooks.com, users create personalized children's book for little ones they know.