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How to empower your small business with free online tools

Running a small business presents numerous challenges, but with the right tools and a dependable internet connection, you can position yourself for remarkable success.

Reap the benefits of utilising online tools for SMBs

By harnessing the power of exceptional online tools, you not only pave the way for your business to flourish but also streamline your business operations, making them more efficient and manageable. This enables you to dedicate more time and energy to the aspects of your business that truly ignite your passion.

The right tools for the job

To help you out, we’ve put together a list of some of the best online, free productivity tools available right now and why you can get ahead with your own business by making use of them.

You don’t have to use our specific suggestions. There are many great options out there, so make sure you find what works best for you.

1. An office in the clouds

For small business owners, free apps like the ones available from Google can serve as the backbone of day-to-day operations. An integrated package of apps such as Google offers, including Gmail, Google Docs (documents), Google Sheets (spreadsheets), Google Slides (presentations), and Google Drive (cloud storage), can replace multiple standalone tools at no cost.

Mind you, Google isn’t the only option for apps such as these, but life is a lot easier when everything works together so well.

Not only can you conduct your entire workday via a browser, but the mobile applications also allow you to access any apps and files you need while on the go. This is perfect for situations where you need to quickly send a company presentation to a potential customer or urgently write a company letter while away from the office.

How to get started

Start by setting up a company Gmail account and use Google Drive to store all your essential files. Share Google Docs and Sheets with team members for collaborative work. Use Google Slides to create and share presentations with potential clients or stakeholders.

2. Step up your cybersecurity game

The online threats are real, and a cyber-attack could devastate your small business. The days of weak passwords and sticky-note reminders are over; it’s time to take your security seriously.

Password managers like BitWarden, 1Password, and Keeper offer robust security by encrypting and storing your passwords. Once you unlock your vault, these managers can auto-fill login details, generate strong passwords, and even alert you to compromised passwords.

It’s important to note that you are entrusting these companies to keep your most sensitive information secure, so make sure you do a bit of homework before selecting which is best for you.

How to get started

Choose one of the recommended password managers and install it on all your devices. Use it to generate strong passwords for all your accounts and to securely store other sensitive information like license keys and credit card details.

3. Need a helping hand?

AI models like ChatGPT are the talk of the town, with many people having varied levels of experience with what they are, how they work, and what they do. The good news is that without any cost or effort at all, you can begin using it to help you and your business out in ways you may not have thought of.

AI language models can be a versatile tool for small business owners, aiding in quick research, information retrieval, and decision-making.

  • Drafting emails: AI assistants can help draft emails (even in more than one language), ideal for businesses serving diverse communities.
  • Summarising documents: Turn lengthy documents into concise keynotes for speeches, saving preparation time.
  • Brainstorming ideas: Generate creative ideas or get help thinking of themes for your next office party.
  • Analysing customer reviews: Pinpoint customer satisfaction and areas for improvement by getting an assistant to analyse all your customer reviews and generate a report.
  • Solving problems: Calculate operational costs, such as fuel expenses for deliveries, aiding in budget planning.

It’s worth noting that you should be cautious using AI assistants like Bing, ChatGPT and Google Bard, as they can sometimes give incorrect or outdated information. Always double-check details from reliable sources for sensitive or important matters.

How to get started

Visit the home pages for ChatGPT, Bing AI or Google Bard. Once you’ve logged in or created an account, you can start asking away. Bookmark it or keep a tab open on the side for when its assistance might come in handy.

4. Simple tools for easier project management

Running a small business involves juggling multiple projects and tasks simultaneously. Simple project management tools like Trello, and ClickUp can simplify this process by offering a visual representation of all ongoing tasks, making it easier to track progress, delegate tasks, and set deadlines.

The ability to tag team members and assign roles can help even a small team run with the efficiency of a larger organisation.

How to get started

Pick a project management tool that suits your needs and onboard your team to it. Use it to assign tasks, set deadlines, and track project progress. It’s essential to set aside time each week to review the dashboard to make sure everyone is on track.

5. Streamlined email marketing

Marketing can be tough for small businesses. Services like Mailchimp make it simple by offering everything you need for email campaigns in one place. This means you don’t need to buy lots of tools or hire special staff.

It also helps you make smart decisions with features like analytics and A/B testing, so you get more value for your money.

How to get started

Sign up for an account and import your customer email list (or set up a sign-up page for new customers to register). Use its templates to design your first email campaign. Utilise A/B testing to find the most effective subject lines and content, and check analytics to understand customer engagement.

You’re all set, now get out there!

With these great, free apps, you’re already equipped and ready to conquer the business world, thanks to the connected world we live in.

A reliable and fast internet connection is the foundation for making the most out of all these exceptional online tools. That’s where Openserve comes into play. With robust and dependable connectivity solutions, you’re not just buying internet access; you’re investing in the seamless operation and scalability of your small business. When it comes to unlocking the full potential of digital tools, fast, reliable connectivity isn’t just a requirement—it’s a game-changer.

Openserve is a proud National Partner of the NSBC

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