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Free tools to get small business running with the big dogs

People say “you get what you pay for” as if it’s a bad thing.

When it comes to running a small business, there are heaps of tools that allow you to manage, streamline and market your company. The best part? You don’t have to pay a thing.

Here’s a look at five helpful (free) tools you should be taking advantage of:

Shopify: This site allows you to set up, customise and host a full e-commerce store to support your business and its free trial is the perfect way to test it out. Whether you’re selling clothes, electronics, digital services or even food, Shopify has templates and guides to help you create your own online presence. Through Shopify, you can accept payments from almost anywhere in the world. Plus, its marketing tools and tips allow you to track your progress and drive continued growth.

Expensify:  Expensify makes completing expense reports as simple as possible for employees and employers. It eliminates the need for manual entry, allowing employees to enter receipt information by snapping a photo with their mobile phone and forwarding it by email. Expensify can also capture reimbursable expenses, like mileage, using GPS and odometer readings on phones. There’s no fee to use the app, which comes with website support, for individuals, contractors, and freelancers.

PRTG Network Monitor: As security solution providers grapple with more than 27,000 new threats a day, it is increasingly vital that businesses gain a more in-depth understanding of their IT infrastructure and where its weaknesses are. The PRTG Network Monitor increases the vigilance of your company’s security, keeping your network running smoothly and identifying small problems before they become big ones. PRTG Freeware offers the complete feature set of the commercial PRTG editions and makes sense in small offices or for private networks.

ZenDesk: This software streamlines all of your customer service interactions – bringing all of your conversations into one place. The ZenDesk interface offers an easy way to manage inbound requests and comments from any channel, whether it’s email, social media or even by phone. You can take calls through the software or reroute to your mobile and everything is transcribed into tickets. Plus, it’s compatible with more than 100 app plug-ins, so you can integrate more of your favourite tools. The Starter Plan requires a $1 donation to a charity, so it’s not completely free, but still a worthwhile investment.

Highrise: Highrise is like having your own personal secretary, giving you a central place to store all your notes, emails and information for up to 30,000 customers, leads, partners and contacts. It also gives you the option to receive text messages or email reminders when you need to follow up with contacts, and integrates with Outlook, Excel, Mac computers and your mobile devices. There’s a free trial as well as a free plan for two users.

About the Author

Andrew Timms is the Channel Manager – Australia and New Zealand at Paessler.

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