Business Toolbox

Business Toolbox

Given the current lockdown measures forcing businesses to go digital, we have compiled a list of software tools that are cost-effective and user friendly to help with your digital transformation.

This article lists popular, cost-effective, and user-friendly small business software solutions to start your digital transformation. Find information on the tools available, what they can do for your business, and how you can access them.

This list highlights the tools small businesses can use to promote their services and manage their finances. They are broken down into the following categories:

  • Website
  • Social media/ social media management
  • Marketing
  • Finance

Website

Wix

For small businesses looking to build an online presence, Wix is the perfect platform. The tool offers pre-built templates for those with no experience in building a website and custom design capabilities for the more advanced, all free of charge. 

Main features:

  • Intuitive website builder
  • 100s of professional templates
  • Image editor

The basic version of Wix is available for free. Prices for the professional plan start at £3 a month, with the most premium version costing £18 per month. Build your website here.

Mozello

Mozello is another useful free tool for small businesses looking to build a website to promote their products and services. Their website builder is easy to use, allowing businesses to create an online store to receive orders. This is ideal for businesses selling deliverable products such as clothes, arts and crafts, etc.

Main features:

  • Website builder
  • Template designs for eCommerce, blogs, catalogues, etc.
  • Free storage

The basic version of Mozello is free of charge with the premium version costing between £6-£11 per month, depending on which version you register for. Find a breakdown of the different plans here. Visit the Mozello website to start creating your website now.

WordPress

WordPress offers a free version of their website builder. The software is one of the most popular among small businesses and provides lots of free templates to build your website in addition to the ability to install plugins to boost your site performance. 

Main features:

  • Customisable design
  • Mobile sites

For those looking to build a more expert website, WordPress offers various options, 

Find the details here.

Weebly

Weebly is another free website builder designed for small businesses. The software is popular due to its ease of use and its plethora of templates to choose from. This makes it suitable for those with limited experience in website building.

Main features:

  • Drag and drop website builder
  • eCommerce store

Access to the basic Weebly package is completely free, but if you wish to use the more advanced plan, you can register for £4 per month, with the most comprehensive plan costing £18 per month. Visit the Weebly website to get started. 

Site123

Site123 is a useful tool for small businesses with limited time to dedicate to building their website. The software allows the user to pick from several categories before presenting a design.

Main features:

  • Responsive web design
  • Personal blog
  • Social media integration

You can register for Site123 free of charge. If you wish for the premium version with greater storage and eCommerce features, this will cost you £13 per month. Follow the link to get started.

Shopify

Businesses looking to build an eCommerce website to sell their products should consider Shopify. The platform provides a cheaper alternative to agencies for businesses looking to sell their products online and its simple interface makes it suitable for beginners.

Main features:

  • Over 70 professional themes
  • Card payments
  • Social media integration

The basic version of Shopify starts at £29 a month, however, you can register for a 90-day free trial with no commitment here.

Squarespace

Squarespace is a website building service for businesses looking to build an online presence with a website. Its pre-built designs and drag-and-drop management again make it a suitable tool for those with little knowledge or experience of building a website:

Main features:

  • Modern templates 
  • Style editor
  • Finance extensions to receive payments

Plans for Squarespace begin at £10 per month, however, they are currently offering a 14-day free trial which you can register for here. Check out the different platforms here.

Social media/ Social media management

Instagram

Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms, based around sharing photos and videos. This makes it perfect for small businesses with a visual product or service, looking to get customers during the lockdown. Full access is completely free of charge and it takes less than five minutes to sign up. If your business fits into one of these three categories, Instagram could be a good fit:

  • Sells your product using visuals, for example, a restaurant or clothes shop
  • Show the benefits of your services with images (before/after) – such as landscapers, cleaners, builders, etc.
  • Showcase your services with visuals, for example, yoga studios, garages and gyms

Check out our step-by-step guide on how to get started on Instagram.

Facebook

Facebook is the most popular social media platform with over 2 billion users, making it perfect for small businesses trying to build an online presence. The platform is great for sharing images, videos, and business updates. Facebook’s publishing tools, built for business pages, give it an advantage over other platforms as users can schedule posts in advance. 

Facebook may be a suitable platform for businesses in the following categories:

  • You run regular promotions, discounts, etc- Facebook is a useful platform to communicate these offers 
  • You have an engaged audience i.e. Pub’s and restaurants- Facebook can be used to provide scheduled updates
  • You sell a physical product- Facebook allows different types of media i.e images and videos

For businesses using multiple platforms, read on for free resources to manage and schedule posts. Visit Facebook’s website to create your page today.

Twitter

Microblogging and social networking is an excellent site for small businesses looking to build brand awareness and communicate with their current customers. Twitter is a suitable platform for:

  • Businesses looking to drive traffic to their website
  • Businesses looking to respond to customer enquiries

Stats show that 65% of businesses are already promoting on Twitter, so make sure your business doesn’t miss out. Visit Twitter to create your account.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional social media network. Over time, LinkedIn has increasingly become a sales and marketing platform, perfect for small businesses in the B2C sector. Company pages on LinkedIn rank highly in search rankings so simply having a page is important for brand awareness. 

  • Over 30 million companies are active on LinkedIn, making it a useful platform for B2C businesses
  • Businesses looking to employ more staff can advertise jobs and manage applications on LinkedIn

Sign up here.

Youtube

Youtube is the leading video sharing service where users can watch, like, share, comment, and upload their videos. The platform is great for increasing the visibility of your brand, promoting your services, and illustrating business values. If your business falls into one of the following categories, Youtube could be a useful platform for you:

  • You sell complicated products requiring a visual explanation such as exercise equipment
  • You offer an educational service i.e. a mechanic
  • You offer a demonstrable service i.e. a barber

 Visit their website to get started.

Hootsuite

Social media management platform Hootsuite offers a free plan for small businesses looking to organise their social media activities. The free plan allows users to manage three social media platforms in one place, schedule up to 30 posts in advance, and use analytics to monitor performance.

Main features:

  • Automated post scheduling
  • 10 social profiles
  • Unlimited scheduling

For those wishing to experiment with the premium version, this plan is also available to small businesses until July to help them cope with lockdown measures. Sign up to Hootsuite’s free plan here.

Buffer

Buffer is another social media management platform with a free plan designed for small businesses. Like Hootsuite, Buffer allows businesses to manage 3 social media pages but only allows 10 scheduled posts.

Main features:

  • Calendar to schedule months in advance
  • Analytics
  • Compatible with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube and more

For businesses with a more complex social media strategy, Buffer offers various plans from £15-£99 per month, depending on functionality. Visit their website to register.

Tweetdeck

Tweetdeck is a social media management application for the management of Twitter accounts. Whilst this platform only allows you to manage Twitter accounts, users can access notifications and messages from other platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

Main features:

  • Tweet scheduling 
  • Monitoring tools
  • LinkedIn column 

Tweetdeck is completely free of charge, making it suitable for businesses with a tight budget. Find the rest of Tweetdeck’s features and how to sign up here.

Marketing: (Analytics, Automation, Email marketing)

Google Analytics

Web analytics platform, google analytics is a useful tool for all businesses with a website. This platform tracks all metrics on your website including, visitors, traffic sources, conversions, etc, helping users to make informed choices. 

Main features:

  • Traffic reporting
  • Comparison of different date ranges

The app is completely free of charge. Start measuring your website performance here.

MailChimp

Mailchimp is an email marketing service with free access to help upgrade small businesses’ email marketing campaigns. The platform has a range of free templates in addition to design capabilities to allow creatives to produce their own visuals. Other features include email tracking and analytics. Sign up to start building your campaigns.

  • Pre-built template
  • Image and file management
  • Email scheduling

Finance

Wave Accounting

Small business financial software specialists, Wave, offer free access to their accounting software, Wave Accounting. The software offers facilities for invoicing, accounting, and receipt scanning. It is designed specifically for small businesses, and you can sign up using just your email address. 

Main features:

  • Invoice templates
  • Recurring billing

Wave Accounting is free to users, however, if you wish to issue credit card payments, there is a small charge per transaction. Find out the details and register on the Wave website

GnuCash

GnuCash is another free of charge accounting software platform designed specifically for small businesses. Features include invoicing, bill reminders, and bookkeeping, along with limited payroll management.

Main features:

  • Scheduled transactions
  • Reporting

Create your free account on their website.

Stripe

Technology company Stripe’s payment management platform is a useful tool for small businesses. The software allows users to accept, process and manage payments, issue invoices, and more. 

Main features:

  • Card payments
  • Invoicing

It is free to sign up for an account with Stripe, although a small fee is charged per payment received. 

Find out the details here.

Paypal

Another online payment management tool, ideal for small businesses, is Paypal. Paypal allows businesses to send and receive payments and serves as an alternative method for traditional paper payment methods. An added feature is that clients do not need a Paypal account to pay you. 

Main features:

  • Incoming and outgoing payments
  • In-store and online payments
  • Fraud protection

It is free to register for Paypal, however, you will be charged at a rate of 2.90% per transaction to receive payments. Follow the link to register.

 

Expensify

Expensify is a business system used to manage expenses, transactions, and money matters through its real-time data and reporting processes. Expensify offers its basic functionalities, listed below for free.

  • Expense report
  • Direct debit reimbursement

Premium features to assist small businesses, such as invoicing are available for just £3.99 per month. Visit their website for information about their plans.

 

Sage

Business finance software Sage can be used to digitalise your businesses’ accounting. Designed for businesses of all sizes, the software can be used on mobile, tablets, and computers.

Main features:

  • Up to 40 users
  • Industry-specific functions
  • Online bill settlements

Sage’s most basic package starts at £12 a month, however, you can currently claim a 30-day free trial if you wish to test the software before making a commitment. Visit the Sage website for a breakdown of the different packages.

For additional tools offered for free or at a discount, specifically to help businesses during the Coronavirus outbreak, check out our article; The best free tools for small businesses in lockdown.

This article is a collection of free or low-cost resources for small businesses. Our follow up will highlight the tools to aid the management of your business, including software for productivity, admin and HR. 

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