By Holly Reisem Hanna
Leaving the security of a steady paying job to launch a new business can be a scary endeavor. Even if you've planned and saved six months worth of living expenses, often it takes months to start generating income from your business.
And guess what?
Even if you don't have money coming in, your business still incurs expenses to run smoothly. But don’t despair, there are tons of free tools, resources, and printables, so you don't have break the bank.
Here's a huge list of free business resources so you can focus on making money instead of spending it.
Since you won't have a brick-and-mortar location the heart of your home-based business is your website. Having a website allows people to window shop your services and products, it helps them find you via the web, and it conveys valuable information. Personally, I think it's in your best interest to own your website (purchase your domain name and hosting), but if you can't afford a website right off the bat, I suggest using a free option until you can afford to switch to a more robust platform.
A few things to note about free platforms. Usually you're limited to small number of web pages, you'll have limited bandwidth and storage, and often you'll have a sub-domain. If you can spare $3.95 a month, I highly recommend setting up your own website with WordPress. Not only is it affordable, it's extremely easy to setup and use and it will give you a professional looking website.
Online Productivity Tools.
You'd think as much as I'm online, that I'd rely heavily on online productivity tools, but I don't. As you'll see below, I like to use real-world tools to help me stay organized. But if you prefer online time management tools – here's a great list to keep you on track.
- Cozi – Simple family organizer
- ClickBook offers free online appointment scheduling
- Doodle – Scheduling application that will sync all of your calendars together
- Evernote – Virtual todo list
- Google Calendar – Online calendar
- RescueTime – Time tracker
- Todoist – Task manager
- Toggl – Time tracking app, free for up to 5 users
I'm old school when it comes to planning and organizing. For all of my personal and business activities I use a physical planner, calendar, notebook, and tons of printables. From grocery lists and daily todos, to packing lists, chore charts, and business goals. If you're looking for free printables to organize your business and life this list has you covered.
- Dave Ramsey – Budgeting forms
- Dave Seah – Productivity tools
- Frugal Fanatic – Budeting, debt reduction, worksheets
- Mainstream Mom – Meal planning, organization, and budgeting
- momAgenda – Planning, checklists, and tracking sheets
- Money Saving Mom – Meal planing, household management, and weekly goals
- Productivity Flourishing – Planners and productivity worksheets
- Thirty Handmade Days – Downloadable budget binder
- Travel Mamas – Packing lists
- SimpleMom – Checklists, charts, and more
When I first started my business, I used a spreadsheet for all of my income and expenses. Not only has the process manually intensive, by it made tax-time a nightmare. Save yourself the frustration and use a professional platform. The resources listed below offer invoicing, budgeting, planning, bookkeeping, and accounting solutions.
- H&R Block – Free tax preparation checklist and free online tax filing for 1040EZ, 1040A, and 1040 with Schedule A
- Intuit QuickBooks – Free-30 day trial
When you're running a business, you'll find yourself searching for all types of forms and templates that you don't even know you need until a certain situation arises. When the time comes, here are some great resources to have bookmarked.
- Frugal Entrepreneur – Business documents, templates, and forms
- SCORE – Business planing, financial, marketing, and management templates
Content and Project Management Systems.
When you're a service provider (virtual assistant, freelance writer, graphic designer, etc.) you're going to have multiple projects and clients to manage. The best way to stay on top of everything is by using a content or project management system to keep you organized.
- FreedCamp – Free project management tool
- Trello – Online collaboration and management tool
- Wrike – Task and project management tool
Marketing Tools and Platforms.
It's been said that you should spend at least 20% of your time marketing your business. With hundreds of ways to market your business, you should be able to find a formula that works for you. Here are a few free platforms and resources worth checking out.
- Craigslist – Free online advertising
- Facebook – Free social media marketing platform
- Free Press Release – Submit your press release for free
- Hootsuite – Mange your social media marketing efforts in one place
- HubSpot – Free email signature
- Instagram – Free photo sharing media platform
- LinkedIn – Professional social networking website
- MailChimp – Free email marketing for up to 2,000 contacts
- Pinterest – Visual marketing platform
- SendInBlue – Free email marketing, up to 9,000 emails a month
- Survey Monkey – Allows you to gather feedback, collect data, and analyze survey results
- Twitter – Free social media marketing platform
For more budget-friendly marketing ideas, check out these articles:
- Ways to Market Your Business Without Breaking the Bank
- How to Market Your Business on a Shoestring Budget
You may already have Microsoft Office for your computer, but if you don't the yearly subscription can be pricey. Here are some other options that work great and they're free.
- Cute PDF – PDF conversion tool
- GoogleDocs – Word processing, spreadsheets, forms, slides, and more
- OpenOffice – Word processing, spreadsheets, multimedia presentations, and more
- PrimoPDF – Create PDFs for free
It's funny when you work in an office setting you don't even think about all the different methods you use daily to communicate with others – the technology and systems are already in place. However, when you run your own business, you'll quickly learn that you need a whole host of tools. Luckily, there are lots of free and reliable options.
- FaxZERO – Fax documents for free, up to three pages, two times per day
- FreeConferenceCall.com – Conference and video calls, up to 1,000 people for free
- Google Chat – Talk to other people over the internet for free
- Google Hangouts – Video chat
- Hot Recorder – Record calls for free
- LetterMeLater – Schedule emails to be sent in the future
- Mikogo – Desktop sharing tool, ideal for web conferencing, online meetings, or remote support
- Skype – Free call, video chat, and instant message for Skye to Skype users
- WebEx – Free video conferencing free for up to three people
Design Tools and Stock Images.
As an entrepreneur, you'll take on many roles. Quite frequently that role is a graphic designer. But no worries, you don't need any special training to create professional-looking images, presentations, and marketing materials; these tools are both free and easy to use.
- Canva – Simple design platform and photo editor
- ColourLovers – Color ideas, palates, patterns, and trends
- Dreamstime – Stock photos and images
- FontSquirrel – Free fonts for commercial usage
- Pexels – Free stock photos
- PicMonkey – Photo editor and designer
- Pixabay – Over 600,000 free images and videos
- ResizeImage.net – Resize images without losing quality
Free Tools for Bloggers.
If you run a blog, there's no doubt that you'll need some specialized tools to make your blogging efforts easier. Here are just a few that I use and recommend.
- Affiliate Blueprint – A free 4-day email course that will show you how to make your first affiliate sale
- Blogging Success – My free 28-page e-book that covers blog writing, getting traffic, and monetization methods
- Blogger Assessment – A free quiz that tells you if you have what it takes to be a successful blogger
- DisclosurePolicy.org – Generate a free disclosure policy for your blog
- Grammarly – Free editing software
- Gravatar – Create a globally recognized avatar, helps brand your blog identity
- Rafflecopter – Free software for running giveaways
- Random.org – Randomly choose winners for your giveaways and contests
- SmallSEOTools – Plagiarism checker for guest blog posts
- The Blog Structure Blueprint – A free tool to organize your blog
Are you ready to make money from home this year, but you're not sure what direction to take? Here are a bunch of FREE online courses that can help take the guesswork out of what work-at-home career path you should take.
One last note about business freebies. There will come a point where your time becomes more valuable than saving a few bucks. So as you grow, invest in the proper tools that will ultimately save you time and money; as freebies often have limitations.
Good luck with your new business!
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