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8 free tools to supercharge your business

8 free tools to supercharge your business

You're a Bootstrapper. You demand value. Business overhead? You strip that faster than an Ikea screw. Instruction manuals were for your dad's generation. You crave tools that are intuitive, useful and now. Free is just the icing. So, to inspire you on that quest we've compiled a list of some of Pitchengine's favorite free business software tools. As "freemium" software, many of these can scale with your business, and as your P&L grows remember the software that got you there and show them some subscription-love. :) Google The very power of all this crowdsourced information on the web is rendered useless without a way to search and retrieve it. Google's minimalistic screen with a stark single entry box is often overlooked as the single greatest tool available to businesses, and it's completely FREE. You can search for inspriration for you indendent contractor agreement or find some quick demographic data for a marketing report. But, don't overlook that Google can solve math equations, sets alarms, convert units of measure, and can even help you decide what to eat for dinner. Here's an entertaining list of 18 cool things Google can do. That it works so fast is amazing. That it works at all is a miracle. Yet, over a decade later we still need to remind our friends and family to "Just Google it" when asked an obvious question. So, for those occasions, our favorite application is Let Me Google That For You , which takes a cheeky poke at someone for not understanding how the world's easiest web application works. Try it at your own risk, because to your friends you're now likely to become 'that guy'. Gmail Despite the formality of email in a world of emoji, SMS, WhatsApp, Snapchat and other instant messaging tools, email still reigns supreme in its overall utility and adoption in the business community. And, the undisputed 800-pound gorilla in the category is Gmail, by Google. With all of it's functionality and the help of some 3rd party apps Gmail can be boosted to assist your business with Customer Service , Marketing , and Sales . One of Gmail's advantages is that it integrates a great search function (where did they get that?). So, use Gmail to store notes to yourself for easy retrieval, using a keyword in the email. Many managers will use it to keep notes on employee performance throughout the year so that when periodic appraisals are performed they can access stored observations from the year with a simple search of a couple keywords: "Sam Performance", for example. Asana When Facebook co-Founder Dustin Moskovitz and ex-engineer Justin Rosenstein chose to team up and tackle the problem of inefficient task management, the resulting software was bound to include a lot of social elements and sport an attractive user interface. Asana is that and much more. Free to teams of up to 15 members, Asana is our once-per-week check on priorities and how we're tracking. Through the week, it's where conversation can live about our projects. The interface is extremely well thought through and clean, but the depth and the subtleties make it a very comprehensive team tool. We'll leave the fun of discovery for you to enjoy. Google Alerts Conversation is everywhere, and it's 24-7. We unfortunately cannot be everywhere, nor can we physically be 24-7. So, some of our favorite tools are designed for listening. Google Alerts is an efficient way to monitor the web for topics near your heart. Curious when your business's name is mentioned and in what context? Want to be notified when your kids youth sports team gets discussed? Key those terms into Google Alerts and set the parameters for how and when you want to be alerted and leave the rest to them. Google Apps You can drop a C-note per year on Microsoft Office for each person on your team to access industry-best document, spreadsheet and presentation software, or you can use Google's lighter versions of these tools from any device anywhere. If you're a die-hard Excel nerd, you will not love Google's Sheets, but for the majority of the document creation in your world you'll be very satisfied with it. The functionality is surprisingly robust. Clincher: Ability to share and collaborate on documents with team mates in real time makes it our team's most frequented go-to document software. Google Drive If you remember the 1900's, a time when servers were gate-kept by your IT department and your portable hard drive was handled with the same care as a carton of eggs, you'll appreciate what cloud storage has solved in your professional life. With Google Drive not only do you have fast efficient file storage, but you have sharing ability with your bits and bytes. While it starts at 'free', plans are affordable and the interface intuitive. 'Nuf said. Facebook You love it. You hate it. But, you tell your friends you hate it. But, really you're addicted to it. Shed the guilt, you're not alone. 1.6 billion people are right there with you. Not sure we can name something else that 1.6 billion people are doing today except breathing and poking fun at Jeb Bush. It's that compelling. As a business tool it's very useful. If you're recruiting--and don't admit this in a room of HR professionals--it could be used to look up job candidates (read more ). It can help you keep tuned in to conversations relevant to your industry. In search, it's likely the first profile about you or your business that will show up and as an added bonus: It's content you can control, unlike those pesky business reviews on Yelp. A business page is a must. No two organizations are going to have the same goals or use their pages in the same way, but having a presence where people are spending so much screen-time is a no-brainer. Canva We've come a long way from PC Paint baby. As marketing and story telling content becomes more visual, your business will regularly have a need to convey ideas thru images. We have all experienced that minor panic attack that comes with opening a blank page and not knowing where to begin. So, Canva has created more accessible starting points for us non-designers. Canva puts the process of creating visual content for the web within the reach of even the most graphically challenged. If you need a Facebook cover photo, infographic or feature image for your blog post Canva will inspire you and make you look like a pro. At Pitchengine, for most graphic needs we find ourselves clicking the Canva bookmark before we'll open Adobe Illustrator. Do you have a favorite free business tool? Please share it with us. #bootstrapped #news