Hit the Reset Button with 37 Free Business Online Tools
Adrian Curran – April 2020
All the tools I have listed are free (and who doesn’t like free!) but before you get to the business tools please just take a couple of minutes to read the approach I’m trying NOW for my business and those that I help…..
Coronavirus has turned the world upside down…this is such a difficult time for us all on so many levels.
It’s a perfect storm…
This is the world we are all living in now –
– scared and worried for the vulnerable people in my life, wanting to protect them but really feeling completely helpless!
– watching revenues crumble through no fault of my own (Perhaps I can do a lot better in future by hitting the reset button below)
– in an unprecedented lockdown were the smallest thing I took for granted before now I cannot do.
– reading, watching and listening about the heroes of the NHS and the sadness of those who have lost loved one.
We probably all feel like this!
For the most part we are helpless but what we can do is focus our attention on preparing for the future.
With our businesses being gravely affected and the finances that run our homes and lives drying up, the devastating consequences of that are yet to be played out.
Governments have introduced a raft of measure to help businesses – how effective that has been will remain to be seen.
Small towns and communities like ours in Warrenpoint, County Down and the whole island of Ireland are built on small businesses, entrepreneurial zeal and a vocation of service to the community.
Small businesses are an integral part of the fabric of life!
We meet, chat and deal with the cafe owner, barber, bar owner, beautician, musician, mechanic, joiner, carpet fitter, hairdresser, accountant, plumber, musician and so on every day of the week!
It’s about Family & Friends
They are our family, relatives and friends.
It’s not just about business and making money it’s about connections.
It’s about giving each other “a turn”.
That’s what is lovely about small communities.
But as a community we are all faced with so many questions –
Who knows how long we will be in lockdown?
Who knows what effect it will have on our businesses?
Will there even be a business to go back to?
So what do we do?
We have to accept things as they are or we force them to be as they are not.
I write this as much as a mantra for myself to help me make wise decisions and take focused action.
Panic is our enemy!
It is easier said than done to tell you not to panic but whenever we panic, clarity and wisdom go out the window and we make very poor decisions.
We must use this time to re-evaluate, scrutinise and strip back to the core how we operate our livelihoods.
Business gurus will tell us that success in business is about overcoming obstacles and those that do reap the benefits.
Hmmm…Coronavirus sure has set us a challenge but it’s one we have to face.
The first vital step to take is to use this time to develop a purposeful response to this challenge.
Press Reset Button
Press the Reset Button on your business!
Use the time to critically analyse your systems and processes.
Perhaps, the way you have done things for years just does not work as well as it could.
Perhaps, you have never been happy with the system but you just could not stop to make that change – fear of loss of business, poor systems are better than none at all…
“We’ll improve things someday”..
That DAY might just be TODAY.
Let’s look at Marketing
I specialise in marketing so let’s take a look at how you can shake that up for when things return to normal.
How can you serve your customers at this time of crisis?
Perhaps you cannot sell your products and services in the lockdown but can you educate, inspire, entertain, distract with your marketing.
Marketing is often a rushed afterthought for those of us in small business!
Random pics or poor quality videos on social media, an outdated website, no email list, no hard data on prospects, customers or marketing return on investment.
Some of us who are little more technically minded get distracted by gimmicks in an attempt to game the system (I am that soldier – all the gear and no idea!!!).
Marketing your business is about solving a problem for your customer or prospect.
It’s about understanding the problem from their perspective –
Standing in the shoes of your customer!
It’s not about you!
It’s not about us, it’s about them!
We need to have a plan to communicate what we do, for who and why we do it to the right people, at the right time, for the right reason.
I call it the SIM plan.
Structure and process help me do the best I can to cover the important things.
SIM stands for Strategy, Implementation and Measurement.
Treat this as a constant loop through your customer cycles.
The first step is to know your customer (both existing and potential) and here is a few questions to help you work through this:
- Is there a disconnect between what I think I provide and why the customer might be attracted to my offer?
- Have I asked people on the street what they think about when they think about the problem my product/service could solve?
- Am I the bridge from where they are now to where they want to be?
We all think our business is wonderful and there will be huge demand for it with very little hard data to back that assumption up.
We need to ask people, shadow them when they use our product, ask the right questions – e.g. what is my customer’s actual experience when they use my product?
With this information, we will be better equipped to plan how to effectively focus our efforts in the next stage.
When you have worked out who your perfect customer might be it is time to craft the message that speaks to that customer.
Avoid thinking of potential markets of 1000’s of people – just think of one person.
When you do this imagine you are listening to just one person talk about a problem they have and you just happen to have the solution to their problem.
Imagine you are talking one to one with that person when crafting your copy, designing your creatives – editing your images in Snapseed (see below) and creating videos in Videorama (see below).
How can you guide that person, with your content, to book an appointment (Calendly – see below) or make a purchase online from you (Ecwid – see below)?
It is vital to analyse how many enquiries you got and how many converted to paying customers.
Use the free analytical tools available – Google Analytics and Social Media Insights (see below) – to measure the engagement on your content and if that converted to sales.
Use Google Forms to create a short survey asking new customers were they heard of you!
If they respond that they seen your Facebook Live giving advice on a topic related to your product – you will know that effort has been worthwhile and you have gain a return on that investment of time and resources.
Now to the Free Tools!
I have a linked below to all the free tools below – If you want further help directly to your inbox on how I use these tools please sign up.
Software companies sometimes give us free access and use of their applications but limit users or functionality (they hope you depend it so much you will upgrade).
For a small business with a small team, you might never need to upgrade and can enjoy free use of these tools forever!
1. Google Apps
Google Apps are an essential part of my process.
They are simple to use, with a clean design and interface.
You can store, access and share any of your apps from any device.
You can be working on your computer in the morning and access your work from your phone in the evening.
The free personal Google Account gives you 15GB of storage free.
What you can do with Google Apps:
- Docs – Word, Spreadsheet, Powerpoint
- Calendar – your diary always in sync and up-to-date across all your devices.
- Jamboard – online whiteboard
- Keep – To-Do list
- Form – generate online applications forms, surveys and questionaires
- Classroom – a free online education platform
- Analytics – keep track of your website traffic
- Trends – look at what is trending online
Calendly is the appointment scheduler tool I use to allow client’s to make appointments with automated Google Calendar integration and with payment platform integration.
They have a basic plan which is totally free to get you going with online appointment management.
Function: Customer Service ; Time Management
Ecwid gives you a free online e-commerce platform to sell your goods online – the free plan gives you an fully functional online store were you list 10 products for sale online.
This will work as a standalone site or can be integrated to your existing website.
Function: E-commerce ; Productivity
11. Google My Business
You can use Google My Business for free to help customers find you in local Google searches.
You can post updates, images, videos and links to products on your website.
It is vital that you use good quality images on your Facebook and Instagram posts.
You cannot just go to Google images and use the first one you find – you risk getting sued (you don’t want that on top of everything else at the minute)
Pixabay is a copyright free database of images that you can use for professional images for your content. (The image I used of the boat in the storm at the top is from Pixabay)
Function: Graphic Design; Marketing
Canva is a free online graphic design tool using templates to help you quickly design quick, easy and professional images even if you have no graphic design skills. (another option is 14. Stencil )
Function: Creative; Graphic Design; Marketing
Snapseed is a simple to use photo editor for transforming images for your online marketing.
Function: Creative; Graphic Design; Marketing
Video for your business is an absolute must!!! FilmoraGo is a simple to use video editor for Android. 17. Videorama is my choice for IOS.
Function: Video; Marketing; Creative
18. Hubspot CRM
Hubspot offers a free sales platform that enables you to manage your lead generation and customer sales process. (19. Really Simple Systems is another option you could try)
Function: Customer Service; Lead Generation; Productivity
Trello is a superb tool for managing workflow and projects at a glance.
Think of it like a virtual post-it board enabling you to move the notes tasks/reminders/schedules through a workflow. (Alternatives are 21. Meistertask)
Function: Productivity; Creative
Mailchimp is a free email marketing platform that enables you to build up a customer contact list via email.
Function: Communication; Marketing
23. Wave Accounting
Wave Accounting is a free financial management software for small businesses including an accounts transaction, reporting and invoicing.
Function: Finance; Productivity
Zoho lets you try out email ticketing for your customer support. (25. Freshdesk is another alternative)
Function: Customer Service; Productivity
The spread of the coronavirus pandemic has put remote working front and centre stage.
Zoom video conferencing platform allows you to conduct a virtual meeting with your team members remotely.
You meet, see and hear your team no matter remotely.
You can also share your screen to do a desktop demonstration or presentation. (You can also use 27. Google Meet and 28. Skype for this function too)
Function: Team Enhancement; Communications; Productivity
Evernote can be anything you need it to be – a to do list, online filing cabinet, memo maker and so on…
It is available as an app and on desktop allowing ease of info updating and access anywhere.
Function: Productivity; Creative
Pocket is a cool little app for saving videos, blog posts and articles for reading later.
There is a great text to voice function were Pocket reads out your articles – handy for walking and driving.
Function: Productivity; Creative
31. E ggtimer
If you are wasting lots of time and want to manage it better – how about discipling your self and taking your screen out of commission until you get your task done – try out this tool to see if it helps with your productivity.
32. Boomerang for Email
Boomerang for Email helps you schedule when you receive and send Gmail.
For most of us, Gmail is our main email (even when using a custom domain via Gsuite)
Function: Communications; Productivity
33. Handy Budget Calculator
Check out the visitwarrenpoint.com Handy Budget Calculator for a quick calculation of your money in and money out
Bitly shortens ugly URLS – this is particularly useful if you are inserting website pages in social media posts – Facebook posts or an Instagram bio
35. Slogan Maker
In need of a short, snappy tag line for your business but your creative juices have dried up.
Enter the keywords of your business into Slogan Maker and see what it throws up. You might even get an idea for creative social media campaign
Function: Marketing; Creativity
36. Cloud App
Cloud App brings screen recording, screenshots, and GIF creation to the cloud – the free plan gives you one minute of free recording time.
Perfect for screen recording quick online demonstrations.
37. Tool Up for Social Media
This one is up to you to learn how to plan, implement and measure your marketing using social media – it’s free but it requires a strategic approach followed by tactical content creation to get the most from it.
Using Facebook Live to broadcast Live is an amazing resource at zero cost to your business.
Your Phone is your business hub!
- it is a communication tool video, voice, email and social media.
- A project management tool.
- A Finance tool.
- A Design Tool – shooting video, taking images, editing.
Message me on Whats App HERE
Written by Adrian Curran who lives and works in Warrenpoint.
Sign up HERE for free if you would like to see how I use these free tools in my business
Adrian is a content creator for What’s The Point/visitwarrenpoint.com and adriancurranguitars.com. He is a marketing coach & consultant.
Links to the Tools!
Quick Budget Tool
Boomerang for Email
Google My Business
Really Simple Systems