6 free and little-known alts to popular business tools

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Today, we’re going to get into free business tools that you need in your life now.

But before we get into that, we have a small request. Take a walk back in time with us to the days of yore, all the way back to 2015. Barack Obama was the U.S. Commander-in-Chief. Aden was your filter of choice on Instagram. Drake’s Hotline Bling graced every single one of your “I’m a badass” playlists. And spoiler alert, Khaleesi’s dragon came to rescue her on Game of Thrones. Yep, that was fire.

It seems like simpler times, but let’s take a little dive into what it was like to build an empire back then. People averaged 19 hours of work every day and then spent evenings trying to grow their social following. People barely had time to eat, workout, date, play with kids, play with pups, or sleep more than 3 hours a night. Seriously, all people really wanted was a seat at the table… and it was more than overwhelming. But we have to hand it to the 2010s—many people were pushed to think more entrepreneurially with the rise of movements like #GirlBoss or catch-phrases like “work hard, play hard” (ughhh, cringe). At the end of the day, there was proof that success could be found outside of that 9-to-5 corporate climb. But, it took some major hustle.

So, what’s so great about this dumpster fire of a year we call 2020? Well, we can definitely think of one thing: Let’s celebrate the fact that you’re a smarter entrepreneur now. And if you want to get down to the nitty-gritty, we can also celebrate that gladiator sandals are no longer a thing.

What’s really exciting is that there are more automation business tools out there than you could ever imagine. And we are stoked to tell you that a lot of them are FREE. Nowadays, we’re not interested in retrofitting ourselves into systems that don’t work anymore. Especially with the changes we have undergone this year, small business owners have become more resourceful and malleable. We are navigating a different world, and it’s important to adjust to what the times demand of us.

That also means not just wanting a set at the table anymore. We are looking to chop it up, burn it down and build a new one that fits your oat milk latte, kombucha, sparkling water, celery juice, and martini (we like a lot of beverages around here). Let’s start exploring business tools that are free of charge. Because you are the boss around here.

WHY ARE YOU MAKING ME DO THIS?

First of all, it’s free.

If you’re new here, you may not know this about us, but we are pretty skeptical​ about new things. Like, Keto? Unclear. Succession on HBO? Took a while. Culottes and strappy sandals? Hard pass. Nothing is more pleasing than a little side-eye or eyebrow raise when someone recommends something new. However, sometimes it takes the capacity to suspend your beliefs in order to grow. Especially when it comes to your business. We get it, you’ve got your groove. Not to be hyperbolic, but we believe there are some life-changing alternatives to popular business tools you may be already using. And we’ll include a few that you might not know of… yet.

ASANA – Take It to Task​

​Unlike other project management tools, Asana has a very unique expertise—task management. Because it’s free and you’re a small business, this platform has pretty much everything you need to increase productivity. If you have employees, it is also great at strengthening collaboration. The best part is that it’s free for up to 15 users, and there are no limits to the number of tasks you create. The main restriction is not having custom dashboards, but that’s a small feature to forego. It has a highly intuitive and flexible dashboard that allows multiple users to work on projects together. It lacks some of those advanced project tracking features, but it makes up for it with their Timeline view. Also, each member of the team has a portfolio view so managers can see which projects each person is taking on. App integrations are available to have live chats, document editing, time tracking, etc. It’s a great resource, and it’s definitely worth putting to task.

HELLO BAR – Capture the Lead

More than just a notification toolbar, this business tool can actually help you grow your email list, promote offers, increase social engagement, and oh, so much more. When you set up a Hello Bar campaign, you’ll be able to choose what your goal is. It can range from collecting emails through opt-in forms, driving traffic from a specific URL, generating sales through a promotion, etc. With each goal, you’ll have different options in how you’ll want to achieve it, whether it be a pop-up, push notification, page takeover, etc.

The templates offered are easy-to-use and can cater to your unique branding. Wee! However, if you need some design help, there are pre-made templates that also look great. The real magic is the targeting, like bow and arrow Robin Hood realness. The conditions are incredibly detailed, which is what makes them powerful. The free version gives you limited design options and up to 5,000 page views per month. If your small business is within that range, this business tool is for you. Hello Bar! Doesn’t saying that out loud make you want to pour yourself a cocktail?

LATER – Let’s Get Social

There are tons of great social media management platforms that you have probably been using since the beginning of scrolling. Some of which are as reliable as that aunt of yours who you can always depend on to drink too much at Thanksgiving dinner. However, there are tons of other options out there that might be… dare we say, more millennial? Let’s be honest, Gen Z is probably the aim since they are literally changing world politics through TikTok. We would like to offer up LATER. If you are anything like us, you like to work visually. This platform is a great business tool that works for a diverse range of companies in industry and size. The FREE version of Later allows you to post 30 media uploads a month, which is probably enough for your small business. However, you can upload an unlimited amount of content into your media library. It has a simple organization system that allows you to schedule posts accordingly. It also includes a drag and drop feature so you can easily rearrange your grid, so your feed is more beautiful than the collection at the Louvre. What we love most is that you can manage more than just your IG, but other platforms like Pinterest, Facebook, etc. Go ahead, slow your scroll and download Later, well, later.

MAILCHIMP – You’ve Got Mail (Again)

Email marketing is one of the best tools you have to build your small business. It costs pretty much nothing, and you have only money to gain. This email marketing platform is a classic goodie that people from all industries love and turn to. It’s basically the “cheese” pizza of ​marketing; everyone wants a slice. It is fully featured with automations, templates, reporting, sign-up forms, etc. And the free version? You can send out your email golden nugget to 2,000 users and an excess of 12,000 emails every month. Not bad, eh?

5 WAVE – Say Hello To Easy Money

Invoicing is so essential, amirite? This little gem of a business tool ​is more popular than Alyssa Milano on Instagram (for real). With 3.5 million users, it’s one of the most popular free accounting software systems out there. First of all, you cannot beat the FREE price tag. And unlike its other competitors, it doesn’t have any artificial limits on invoicing, contacts, or other hidden weird fees. You have to pay extra for features like payroll, payment processing, etc. but when it comes to invoicing, Wave has us saying, “oh, heeeelllll yes!” It’s exceptionally easy-to-use, is cloud-based so you can collect your cash on-the-go, takes credit card payments, sends reminders, and scans all your pesky receipts into a beautiful digital masterpiece. This is your one-stop invoicing shop.

SLACK – Let’s Talk This Out

​More than ever, people are working remotely, and that means you’re not gossiping with team members in the parking lot or crying together in the bathroom. That’s why your small business must be implementing a team chat to bring those convos onto the cloud. Slack is great. It is entirely FREE. It has tons of integrations, incredible document transfer and search capability, group chat feature, policy channels, etc. etc. We love that you can break out into unique chats for specific teams or projects, so you can get real-time communication going even if you’re working from the comfort of your comfy bed. It was pretty much the most successful of its sort, and we’re still into it. It’s aged incredibly well and won’t be turning anytime soon, just like Cher.

 


 

​Welp, that was fun! And frugal, because we basically saved you a billion dollars in business tool subscriptions and elevated your productivity times 1,000. In all seriousness, implementing the right FREE solutions can help you bring your business to the next level.

But as much as we love all of those free accounting tools and programs you find online, they just can’t give you the same kind of love we do. At Alchemy Accounting, we genuinely get to know your business and its needs. We take it out to dinner, treat it like the princess it is, and when the time is right, we’ll ask its father for its hand in marriage. We treat it, right! The truth is, a lot of those free accounting tools won’t get down to the details, and that’s kind of our thing. Ready to turn your messy accounts into the belle of the ball? Set up a date with one of our solutions experts today.

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Michelle Cooper

Michelle Cooper is a powerhouse entrepreneur, CEO of Alchemy Accounting & Bookkeeping, author of Confessions of a Money Rock Star, Your MoneyDate Journal, and co-author of the collaborative book, Women Rising. She has helped many business owners climb out of entrepreneurial poverty into the land of profit.