Today, SMBs have plenty of affordable business software options that can help them get started.
Sure, cheap options can only get you so far, and paying often unlocks a lot of superb functionality, but that doesn’t mean entry-level offerings can’t provide a solid foundation for any fledgling organisation to build on.
We went looking for ten examples of truly great software whose basic features should be enough to get any small organisation going on a path to growth.
Running a computer network without any security software protecting your endpoints is, well, a very bad idea. Even a free security solution is better than nothing at all.
Avast Internet Security 2019 is rated among the very best options available, as it provides excellent protection against malware, lets you scan your files for problems, and offers the chance to create a rescue disk that could be used to recover an infected PC.
R449 per endpoint gets you a tough firewall to monitor for and prevent intrusions as well, along with the ability to securely “shred” any sensitive data for a year.
And should you just want some basic protection (or your budget is super tight), you can always opt for Avast Free Antivirus. It’s one of the best free antivirus programs available today, and you can easily upgrade to a paid option like the above once you add more people or your security needs mature.
Customer Relationship Management Software
Apptivo is free CRM software that offers great customer relationship and project management functions, along with invoicing and procurement tools for fledgling businesses with 3 users or less.
Apprivo has won several awards for its outstanding features and functionality. It’s in the cloud, and businesses can “track the complete sales process and close more deals from anywhere”.
The paid version, which starts at $8 per user per month (that’s around R120pm in ZAR), offers integration with popular platforms like PayPal, G-Suite, and Office 365.
This one isn’t technically “free”, but at the ZAR equivalent of $1 per employee per month (R14.50 or so depending on the exchange rate at the time), Deputy Rostering Software won’t exactly break the bank and is still very well-suited to small startups on a tight budget.
The $1 tier provides shift scheduling, lets companies make announcements, and lets HR staff schedule and manage various tasks, so it’s pretty basic but still useful.
Upgrade to $2 per employee, and you’ll get the ability to add timesheets and integrate with a payroll solution. If your employee count is low, Deputy is a very smart and affordable way to get yourself a useful HR tool.
Sage One is a homegrown, cloud-based accounting and invoicing package aimed at businesses of all sizes. It’s accessed via the web, has deep functionality built right into its very fabric, and offers affordable monthly rates.
The software handles quotes, payments, invoicing, estimates, and statements. It also integrates with all major banks and is SARS-compliant.
Sage One has a handy centralised web-based dashboard that provides all information a business needs at a glance. Cash flow and general cash requirements, for example. All data is presented to the end user in real time.
It’s 2019, and for any business not to have a social media presence means it might as well not exist. But social media can be a handful to manage. This is why social media management software tools like Hootsuite are all but required.
Hootsuite lets you manage your tweets, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn etc. posts in one place. You can schedule those posts to go out at a time of your choosing, and see live analysis of how well each tweet/post is doing in terms of audience engagement (clicks, likes, upvotes etc.).
Plans start at R290 for 1 user and 10 profiles, going all the way up to R9000pm for 50 social profiles and 5 users. There’s even a 30-day trial, so you don’t need to pay a cent to take it for a test drive.
While you can use Excel or Google Sheets to present data visually, your results won’t be anywhere near as attractive as they would be if you used the free Tableau Public Data Visualisation tool.
Tableau Public lets anyone publish their data visualisations to the web. This allows them to be embedded in blogs and web pages. They’re also easy to share via social media because they’re mobile-friendly, and can be easily downloaded by anyone.
Best of all you don’t need any programming expertise, as the tool is incredibly easy to use. The user can also interact with the data to change what is displayed. This gives it a dynamic element that will appeal to customers and make presentations interesting.
Very handy for small businesses looking to present their data to prospective clients quickly, easily, and attractively.
Getting the word out about your business’s services, successes, your customer stories and more can be done with newsletters. Mailchimp is a completely free, easy to use, drag-and-drop method to put newsletters together quickly and easily, and send them out to your customer base.
Mailchimp’s backend reports how many users open the mailers, and how many clicked. The drag-and-drop interface is super easy to use, too, and basic access (which is free) is sufficient for a user base of up to 2000 email addresses.
A paid subscription sends your mailers to more people, of course. Fortunately, Mailchimp’s free version will suffice at the start of your journey.
Microsoft Sway is presentation software that could be called “Mini PowerPoint”. Sway is not as comprehensive as Microsoft’s full-fat presentation-maker, but it’s super useful nonetheless.
That’s because Sway does much of what PowerPoint does, but for free. Its simple and intuitive interface makes designing presentations fun.
Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of the differences between Sway and PowerPoint.
Sway is a really cool (and free!) way for a small starter business to make professional-level presentations. Done right, these could potentially land them more business and give their enterprise some wings.
You can access it here. Enjoy unleashing your creativity, and enjoy paying that no-cash-down price!
A comprehensive document management system is key to any new business’s success, and Zoho Docs offers a free alternative to paid options.
Zoho Docs lets you store your documents, images, presentations (basically any files you need) online and access them from anywhere.
You get 5GB of free storage and the ability to synchronise your files across Windows, Mac, and Ubuntu Linux. Most importantly, if you run a mix of OSes in your business, Zoho has you covered.
Categorise files by project, file type, and even whoever created them. This makes it easy to find what you’re looking for at a glance.
When you run out of space, it’s time to get out your wallet. Fortunately, by that stage your business should be more than able to afford it.
Online Survey Software
SurveyGizmo is top-notch survey software that can be used to gather feedback from employees, customers, suppliers, or the general public.
It gathers data and presents it to you in ways that make it easy to gain the insights you need to make your business better, faster, more agile, or whatever your goal might be.
SurveyGizmo offers various price plans, but of course any fledgling business will want to start with the most cost-effective option. In this case, that’s the free trial. Click here for the various price plans.
Watch this playlist of YouTube videos that explain SurveyGizmo’s features in well-presented and easy-to-absorb manner.
Sorting out business software doesn’t have to be massively expensive. Do what you need affordably by making use of the lowest software pricing tiers.
And when it’s time to upgrade, users simply pay for the options they need. Win!