Small businesses have to be very careful with their budgets, especially in today’s economy where even the biggest corporations are looking to cut costs wherever possible. One area where a privately-held company can realize significant savings is in the realm of small business software. Software for small businesses doesn’t have to break the budget to be effective. Here is a list of some great pieces of software for a small business that are helpful, easy to find and, best of all, free.
With applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Visio, Access and more, Microsoft Office is the go-to productivity suite for many companies. But as software for a small business, MS Office’s price point may be a little steep, especially if multiple copies are needed. Luckily for small businesses, there’s Open Office.
Open Office is an absolutely free Office suite. Launched in April of 2002, Open Office is stable and reliable, and should be on any short list of small business software needs. Open Office features five applications that are fully compatible with their MS Office counterparts:
- Writer: Word
- Calc: Excel
- Base: Access
- Impress: PowerPoint
- Draw: Visio
When looking for office productivity software for a small business that won’t hurt the bottom line, Open Office is a must.
Open Office does not come with a mail client, but there are so many free email options for small businesses that there’s really no reason to spend extra for MS Outlook.
Mozilla Thunderbird is from the makers of the Firefox web browser and it’s a great piece of free software for small businesses. Thunderbird is very easy to install and use, and with its Lightning Calendaring extension, there’s not much Outlook can do that Thunderbird can’t.
If your small business doesn’t want to install software, there are many free email options available, including Gmail from Google, Yahoo Mail, Inbox.com and more. Also, keep in mind that if your small business is paying for web hosting, the hosting company likely offers email service at no additional charge.
Tax forms, instruction manuals, product documentation and many other documents available online are downloadable strictly in PDF format. Businesses will also send documents as PDFs to eliminate the possibility of alteration. To read PDFs, you’ll need to download Acrobat Reader from Adobe. While that is well known, you may not know that there are now free applications for generating your own PDFs, which is handy considering the cost of the full version of Acrobat.
PDF Creator is a great piece of small business software used for generating PDF documents. It is free to download and easy to use. Instead of launching as a separate application, PDF Creator runs as a print driver. Simply click “print,” use the drop-down menu to select PDF Creator, and then name and save your PDF. It’s the perfect software for small businesses that need to generate PDFs without the cost.
There’s no use having an application to count the money if that app puts your company in the red. For small businesses looking for a cheaper alternative to Quicken or Peachtree, there are free accounting software packages available.
Turbocash is one of the many free accounting suites ideal for small business software implementations. With some accounting ability, you can easily manage your small business’ finances with Turbocash. This product is fully featured with an easy-to-use interface, making it the perfect accounting software for a small business.
You need to protect your small business from the damage done by malware while also protecting your wallet. When considering software for a small business, antivirus software is a must. Fortunately, there are many free antivirus and spyware protection products. Be very careful, though. Many free products in this area are just spyware disguised as antivirus. Stick to the products listed here:
- Microsoft Security Essentials
- Malware Bytes
- Ad Aware
- Spybot S&D
- Super Antispyware
Even in the best economic times, small businesses need to watch every penny to become successful and stay alive. One way to control the budget is to avoid the high cost of software by carefully choosing free small business software. As we’ve shown here, just about any application has a free alternative. It’s just a matter of finding them and discovering which piece of free small business software works best for your company.