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Five free tools that can help you run your small business – part 1

17 October 2012
sEst. reading time: 2 minutes

With limited resources, any help you can get running your small business is welcome.  We look at 5 free tools that can make your life easier.

Google Drive

Google Drive is the new name for “Google Docs”.  Put simply, it’s a cutdown version of the standard office tools – Word processor, spreadsheet and presentation tool – that runs in your web browser and stores all it’s data in the cloud so you can access it anywhere.  If that wasn’t enough, it also adds support for real time collaboration on documents.  You could colloborate on a proposal with a business partner, or a spreadsheet with a client, and all without either of you installing any software.

The renaming of the service coincided with an additional service – cloud base stoage and synchronisation of files in a similar manner to established services like Dropbox, with a generous 5Gb of storage free.

Cost: Free for individual use, paid for subscriptions for small businesses.
More info: http://drive.google.com

Evernote

Evernote is fantastic tool for anyone who makes notes, lists or keeps scraps of paper and photos.  It’s an online notebook that stores your data in the cloud, but synchronises with your PC, Mac or mobile device so you have a copy of your notes locally and stored safely away on the Evernote servers.

With support for storing images, text and files of all types, Evernote means you’ll never lose those meeting notes or that checklist again.  And because it syncs with the cloud, you can even log in from a web browser if you are away from your desk and need to access or update something urgently.

Cost: Free for a basic account, premium account @ £35 a year adds more storage and additional features like offline mobile access.
More info: http://www.evernote.com

MailChimp

MailChimp – an odd name, but a great tool for bulk email and managing email lists!  If your organisation uses email lists to keep in touch with customers, MailChimp can probably make your life easier.  With a simple inferface, powerful features like the ability to easily track how many times links were clicked, scheduled sends and a plethora of statistics, it’s worth a look.  You can import your existing data from a spreadsheet or text file and build email templates online with the free tools provided.

It also gives your email recipients an easy option to “unsubscribe” which is good practice and reduces the admin hassle of having to  handle all that yourself.

Cost: Free for moderate use, paid plans available for large scale usage.
More info: http://www.mailchimp.com