Looking for ways to expand the online presence of your business? Here at the SBA we are constantly on the lookout for free or low cost web tools that might be useful to your business. To date, we have compiled a list of over 75 mainly free tools that are usually simple to learn, easy to use and have the potential to significantly enhance the way you do business. On our Tools for Doing Business page we have organized these tools by category or what task they will most likely help you complete. Below you will see each category, its purpose and examples of some of the tools listed on the Tools for Doing Business page.
Collaboration: The tools found in this section are designed to aid the collaborative group process. They can be used for mind-mapping, sharing documents and other files, communication and project management.
- Dropbox - Save, access and share documents online.
- Creately - An online mind-mapping tool for groups.
- Asana - Project management tool that allows you to share and track tasks with your team online.
Blogging: This section primarily lists the platforms that can be used when creating and setting up a blog for your business.
- Wordpress - Highly customizable and easy to use.
- Blogger - A very popular free platform to create your blog.
- Tumblr - Short-form blogging incorporating a variety of social media.
Website Management: Are you in the process of building a new website for your business or updating your old one? This section offers a variety of tools to help ease the process.
- Google Sites - Use your Google / Gmail account to build a website.
- DoodleKit - Extensive content management for small business website creators.
- Drupal - Open source content management system (CMS).
Social Media/Marketing: Having troubles deciding which social media sites your business should be active on? The SBA’s list of social media platforms provides quick descriptions of many of the most popular to help you make your decision.
- Twitter - 'Microblogging'. Send quick messages in under 140 characters.
- Facebook - 500 million+ users are already here.
- Sprouter - A self-described Twitter for Small Business.
Office: These tools are primarily intended to be used as a replacement or alternative to the Microsoft Office Suite.
- Open Office - A free package of software similar to Microsoft Office.
- Scribus - An open source publishing tool, backed by a user-support community.
- Thunderbird - Free alternative to MS Outlook.
Webinars/Online Meetings: Do you often need to conduct remote meetings or are you interested in creating a webinar to promote your services or product? Here are some of the tools that can help you do these things. (Note: many of these tools will cost a small amount)
- AnyMeeting (formerly Freebinar) - Free web conferences, screen sharing and event management tool with social media integrations.
- Instant Presenter - Ideal for small businesses with focused small webinar plans. You can record, custom brand the look and feel, upload files, and more
- JoinMe - Free screen sharing application. There is no recording feature, but the free version gives you a quality way of interacting with up to 250 people.
Visualizations: Infographics appear to be the new way to present your product, research or any other topic that is interesting. The SBA currently lists two tools to help you build your own infographic today!
- Visual.ly - Create free custom infographics in seconds.
- infogr.am - Create free interactive charts and infographics
More: In addition to the sections listed above there are so many other free, online tools that can be of use to business owners in a variety of ways that we can’t help listing them. The tools in this section range from creating word clouds, generating QR codes, photo editing services, newsletter design, etc…
- Wordle - Create "beautiful word clouds" in seconds.
- Kaywa QR Code Generator - Create scannable codes.
- GIMP - A free photo editing program, useful for quick re-sizes or touch-ups.
- Audacity - Free open-source audio program, great for doing a quick voice-over.
- Paper.li - Automatically find, publish & promote engaging articles, photos and videos.
- FluidSurveys - Create surveys and forms and generate reports.
- MailChimp - Design and share email newsletters.
- HelloSign - Allows you to electronically sign and share documents online. Signatures are legally binding.
To see the entire list of tools visit the SBA’s Tools for Doing Business page.
Do you use or know of any useful online tools for entrepreneurs or small businesses? What are they? Have you used any of the tools listed above? What do you think about them? How was your experience using them?