They like to say ‘the best things in life are free’, but that’s not strictly true in this day and age. However, there are plenty of complimentary business apps that could improve your productivity, and you don’t have to spend thousands each year licensing expensive software.
Many entrepreneurs baulk at having to buy outright or, as is increasingly the case, license expensive software packages – Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) – but it means they can fail to embrace important and potentially useful technology for their business. In a highly competitive market place, it can prove to be the thin edge of the wedge between success and failure. However, there are plenty of office productivity solutions out there that don’t tie you in to contracts and offer free alternatives to expensive software packages. Over the next couple of months I will provide some examples of these apps where a ‘freemium’ model is offered, providing entry level functionality for free. You can then buy bolt-ons to unlock the full potential of what the app can do once you have assessed the potential for you and its value to your business. Some platforms are funded by advertising, other aren’t, but both are a way for you to dip your toes in the digital pond, and see how it feels before you invest.

Office Suites

Google – Google’s suite of online tools places more of an emphasis on collaboration than others out there. You can select people to work with you on the same document, spreadsheet, presentation or form, and you can all make changes in real time. The beauty of G-suite is that it interconnects with Google’s other offerings, such as Google Drive share drive, and provides 15GB of free storage, as well as its Google Analytics tools that show you how web pages are performing.

Microsoft Office Online – Office is the ubiquitous business suite, offering staples such as Word, Excel and OneNote. Microsoft Office Online is a hobbled web-based and free version of its Office 365 software- after all, it wants you to upgrade to unlock more functionality. That said, you can store up to 5GB in its OneDrive back-up service, and gives you an idea of how the full service can help you.

Zoho – This basic superfast web-based suite is aimed at small businesses. It’s fine for simple tasks, but you’re going to need to look elsewhere if you want more sophisticated features. It provides a word processor, spreadsheet builder and a presentation program. It stores all of your documents in its free online storage space (1GB), and allows you to share them with (member) friends via email invitations.
Zoho Writer has some nifty touches like a dark mode and a clacking typewriter sound to liven up a quiet office, while Zoho Sheet (its version of Excel) also allows real-time collaboration.

Next Month: Apps for email, accounting and project management.