This will be the first in a new series of “Editor’s Picks” posts, where I’ll be sharing some of my favorite small business resources with BizAmmo readers. Today I’d like to point you to some free small business software options that you can use to work more productively while saving money. While I don’t use all of these on a regular basis, I have used each of them, and found them very worthwhile for entrepreneurs and freelancers.
OpenOffice – You can get all of the basic functionality of Microsoft Office for free with the popular OpenOffice Suite from Sun Microsystems. OpenOffice is essentially the mother of all free business software, giving you everything you need to manage documents, spreadsheets, databases, and even graphics. You can also save the files here in formats compatible with Office and other software suites. One of the favorite features I have is with the word processing program, which allows you to convert files to .pdf versions automatically without installing anything else (great for people like me who write e-books and reports).
Microsoft Accounting Express 2008 – Do you want accounting software to help you through the startup-phase or to deal with bookkeeping tasks for your small or home-based business? If so, Microsoft has this free option available for you that I’d say is worth looking into. And if you need something more advanced, but like the general interface, you can always upgrade to Microsoft Office Accounting Professional 2008.
Serif’s WebPlus SE – Need to design a website for your business or freelancing career, but don’t know HTML, CSS, PHP (or don’t even know what those things are!)? Can you not afford to hire a professional design to do it for you, or you simply want to be able to update it on your own without paying someone to maintain your site for you? Then a simple Web editor like WebPlus is a great free option for you. You can also upgrade to WebPlus X2 Website Maker if you want more features. Serif also offers free software for desktop publishing, graphics work, and more at FreeSerifSoftware.com.
WordPress – WordPress is my preferred free blog platform, which I use not only for BizAmmo, but for my business site and several other blogs as well. Once you get it setup, it’s fairly simple to use (and many hosts offer one-click installation of WordPress, making the setup a snap as well). The best thing is the huge community of people who are around to answer your questions, whether through the WordPress community or on their own blogging sites (I’ve never had a problem I couldn’t figure out by searching or simply asking – usually to a quick response). You can use WordPress to run a traditional blog, or even as a more static-looking website as a full-fetured content management system (CMS).
GIMP – Do you need to do a lot of graphical work for your business – designing logos, brochures, or website graphics for example? Do you not want to shell out a lot of money for programs like Photoshop, but you need similar functionality. GIMP is a free image manipulation software option that will more than likely do what you need.