Starting a new business can be expensive. Entrepreneurs can easily sink a ton of money into a venture without seeing much return. There are so many resources and tools out there that seem pertinent to the success of our business. It can be hard to decipher which ones are worth the financial investment.
While many of these resources are fantastic, they’re not all necessary. In fact, there are a lot of free alternatives to most of the tools you find. I’m a huge believer in keeping upfront costs low when starting a business (duh, I’m a financial guy). When I began creating my coaching business, I struggled to find resources that weren’t going to break my bank. It was important for me to generate income before putting a lot of money back into the business.
I was on a mission to find free tools that are valuable for a young business. These are the top 5 resources that I discovered.
In the early weeks of my business I used sticky notes for everything. If an idea popped into my head, or if I wanted to create a schedule for the week, I scribble it down on a sticky note and stuck it to my computer or desk. Eventually they’d stack up and get moved to a crumpled mess in the bottom of my bag never to be heard from again.
Needless to say this was a terrible way to organize my thoughts. I needed a place to consolidate all of my business ideas and resources that I could access anywhere. The solution was Evernote.
Evernote is a digital workspace for storing notes, photos, and documents while keeping them organized. You can create notebooks within Evernote and add pages to each notebook. For example, I have a blog notebook with all my blog ideas jotted down inside. I have another notebook for any online courses I’m creating. It keeps everything organized and digital for easy access.
Evernote works across multiple platforms making it super convenient. I don’t always have my computer with me, so being able to create and access documents from my phone is awesome. You can even snap photos of things and upload them to your notebook if you don’t have time to jot it down.
2. Mail Chimp
One of your most valuable assets as an online business is your email list. An email list is basically a group of people that have raised their hands saying, “I want to hear from you more!” These are the people that will find your content most beneficial and are going to help your business grow.
It’s important to nurture this list by sending good content on a regular basis. To accomplish this I use Mail Chimp. Mail Chimp is an email list service where you can design and send email campaigns to multiple lists. In minutes I’m able to create an aesthetically pleasing newsletter full of things my subscribers will find useful.
For a small fee you can set up automated emails. This is a great tool for when you want to offer free content downloads to your audience. They simply type in their email address on your website and Mail Chimp will automatically send the content to their inbox.
Hiring a graphic designer for your business isn’t cheap. If your business is young, like mine, then you probably don’t have it in the budget. Luckily, I’ve found a free solution.
Canva.com allows you to create professional looking graphics with little to no graphic design experience. The best part is you can make thousands of great designs without spending a penny. There are also pay-per-use items that cost $1 each. The higher quality items are usually $1, but I’ve made dozens of great graphics utilizing only the free options.
Canva offers predesigned templates you can use, or you can build an image from scratch. Another great feature is they have preset dimensions based on what you’re trying to make. So, if you need a graphic for Pinterest, there is a Pinterest layout that is already set to the correct dimensions. This saves you from having to crop the image later!
My favorite thing about Canva is they don't put their stamp on your final product. If you design a logo for your business, you're not to have a "Canva.com" stamp in the bottom corner. This is pretty rare for a free product.
I have created a video review of Canva with examples of how I use this great website.
I am addicted to this iPhone app! One of the most shared types of content on social media is a quote. Typorama allows you to quickly write a quote over a background that can be posted across multiple social media outlets. You can either post directly from the app or save the image to your phone to be posted manually.
While the amount of images offered is limited, the choices you are given are crisp and professional. If you don’t find an image you like, you have the option to upload your own background. They also have a variety of fonts and styles to choose from, as well as filters and text features to really refine the appearance.
Like Canva, this app has the option to create an image for specific social media outlets. If you plan to post the quote to Instagram, you can select the Instagram format and it will be preset to the correct dimensions. This will save you so much time and energy.
If you thought graphic design was expensive, it’s nothing compared to web design. While I think having a high quality website is extremely important for any business, it’s also important to be careful with your cash flow early on. For me, investing thousands in a website wasn’t an option when I launched my coaching business.
So what do you do if you need a website but can’t afford to pay someone to build it? I turned to Wix.com. Wix is a drag-and-drop website builder that is unbelievably easy to use. There are hundreds of free layouts that you can simply tweak to match your vision. With zero web design experience you can create a unique site that will draw in customers.
The free version has ads and doesn’t allow you to connect your domain name. If you want to change that it will cost you at least $12 per month. I pay for the subscription simply because I feel like a website riddled with ads looks unprofessional. However, you can still have a great looking website at no cost.
When a business is young it’s important to invest your money in the right places. Taking advantage of free resources lets you refocus those dollars elsewhere. As your business grows, you will most likely outgrow these websites. Wait until your business is generating enough income before switching to a higher quality option.
What free/cheap websites have you found? Share it with us in the comments box below!
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