There’s no getting around the fact that starting up a new business is going to cost a fair amount of money. At the very minimum, the typical small start-up business will require an Office suite, an email program, and software for accounting and customer management. These base systems alone will incur some fairly hefty costs – not to mention any additional programs you’ll require, plus the hardware you’ll need to run everything.
With all this in mind, it’s no surprise that start-ups everywhere are searching for savvy solutions and cost-cutting options when establishing their IT systems. And luckily, it’s possible to save a good amount of cash by simply seeking out alternatives to traditional business software. There are plenty of cost-effective – even entirely free – solutions out there, so let’s take a look at a few of the best ways to save on business software.
Use free software
Free software, also known as ‘freemium’ products, are systems put out for free by software providers in a basic format. The providers’ aim is usually to draw you in and get you to enjoy the benefits of the basic version of their product, which they hope will then convince you to upgrade to premium paid versions.
However, a lot of the time, small companies may never need to upgrade, as the free version of the program proves enough for their business needs. Usually, users are able to utilise these programs without any commitment whatsoever, only upgrading if and when their requirements expand.
Here are some examples of free software your business can make use of:
- Providing file storage, back-up and sharing, Dropbox offers a free plan with 2GB of data.
- For business communication including voice and video calls and instant messaging, you can’t go past Skype. It offers free calls and messages to any other Skype users.
- Every IT system needs virus protection, and AVG provides it for free with its basic protection plan.
- Google Docs. Google’s system, which includes word processing, spreadsheets, presentation programs and forms, can even be used in place of Microsoft Office. Google Docs is free for up to ten users.
- For email marketing, MailChimp is a safe bet for start-ups. You can send up to 2000 emails per month on its free plan.
Switch to web apps
Another way start-ups can save money on software is by utilising web apps. This means using an application that is delivered over the internet, rather than buying physical software to be installed on computers.
All you need is a browser to download and access web app systems, and there’s no storage, back-ups or updates required of you – the provider takes care of all that. As well as being super convenient, web apps don’t require a big software payment upfront; instead, you usually pay a monthly subscription, which can be cancelled at any time.
Several of the above-mentioned free programs, such as Google Docs, also function as web apps, but here are some others start-ups may be interested in:
- KashFlow Accounting. This web app will take care of all your basic bookkeeping and invoicing needs.
- Really Simple Systems. This is a full customer relationship management system, including sales, marketing, and customer service/support.
Seek out open source technologies
Our final tip for cost-savvy start-ups is to investigate open source software. This refers to programs and products developed by a group of programmers, then offered to the general public for free.
The only downside to open source programs is that they’re usually quite technical, requiring a high level of IT knowledge and competence from anyone who wishes to use them (take alternative operating system Linux, for example). However, there are also plenty of programs that can be utilised by anyone who’s relatively digital-savvy.
Here are a few examples of open source software for businesses:
- Open Office. A free alternative to Microsoft Office, Open Office offers all the functionality of a paid suite of office programs.
- This is another Microsoft alternative, offering email and contact management for free.
- If you’re looking for a free Windows desktop and server replacement, Ubuntu could be the way to go.
Make use of these options and your business will save a whole lot on start-up costs!