Free Software Options for Startups

02/10/2013 05:15 PM | Sky Stebnicki

There are a number of good free software solutions available for small business looking to cut or keep their monthly expenses low. Software can be very expensive so unfortunately small businesses, upstarts, and organizations on a budget often struggle to get the tools they need to conduct business. Rather than doing without, try utilizing some of the free alternatives below.

Office Suite

There is no doubt that Microsoft is king when it comes to office applications like Word, Excel, and Power Point. The only problem is Microsoft Office costs $200-$500 per computer to install!

Free Alternative: OpenOffice

One good alternative is OpenOffice.org which will more than suffice for the majority of your office related tasks and the price of $0 per computer can make a bid difference on your bottom line.

Anti Virus

Free Alternative: Microsoft Security Essentials

When you are starting out lean even the $40 price tag per computer for AntiVirus can be a problem; but neither can you afford to lose everything on your computer because a virus decided to corrupt all your important documents. Fortunately. Microsoft Security Essentials is a trusted free alternative that you can install through windows update and then just let it do it's thing.

CRM - Customer Relationship Management

All successful businesses have customers, and your customers are by far the most valuable resource you have. Unfortunately most commercial CRM solutions are incredibly expensive. For instance, Sales Force (the most popular CRM solution) can cost as much as $170 per user per month! Of course, they have scaled down versions, but the price is still prohibitive enough to cause the vast majority of small businesses to keep their customers in Excel or even Microsoft Outlook until they can afford a real contact manager.

Free Alternative: Netric CRM

The free edition of Netric CRM was created precisely for upstarts and small business looking for a powerful way to start right by managing their most valuable resource with an enterprise class CRM for little or no cost. Start with the free edition and you can stay on it forever, or if you grow and need more collaboration features you can painlessly upgrade without having to worry about moving your data.

Accounting Software

Free Alternative: GnuCash

GnuCash is a free and open source accounting software application that will allow you to manage your books for free. It may lack all the bells and whistles in the more costly competitors but it will do a great job balancing your accounts until you decide you need a more robust solution.

File & Document Backups

Free Alternative: Netric OnlineFs

Your hard drive will die.  It's not a matter of if, but when. And when it does, if you don't have your important documents backed up you are pretty much screwed. There are few feelings worse than realizing you just lost everything you've worked on for the past year! Fortunately, the free edition of OnlineFS allows you to install a windows client that will keep your important documents backed up online. Netric OnlineFS also has the added benefit of allowing you to access your documents online from any computer!

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