It pays to be frugal in today’s tumultuous economy. No sooner are we out of recession that we’re slipping back into one. A symptom of this cycle is that banks aren’t as keen on lending as they once were and increasingly small businesses and start-ups are being forced to go it alone, bootstrapping. Integral to the bootstrapping process is keeping an eye on every dime, dollar and cent, cutting costs wherever possible. As any aspiring entrepreneur or small business owner knows, though, this is easier said than done, given the multitude of expenses a business has.
This is where a little tech savvy can help. Technological advances have reduced a range of costs, free apps offering an antidote to some of the expensive software and services that made bootstrapping that little bit tougher. Having sifted through the business application market, here are the best apps for small businesses that are bootstrapping their way to success.
Microsoft used to have a stranglehold on the doc creation market. No more thanks to Google Drive. With this you’re given an online environment where word processing, spreadsheet creation and presentation needs can all be taken care of for free. Not only that, you’re given all the benefits of cloud software so you’re not as tied to your desktop. Any doc related tasks can be carried out whenever and wherever, provided you’ve got an internet connection.
Setting up a webpage was once complicated and costly, expertise needed to set up a fully functional and professional looking site. At the higher end of the web design market it still can be, but if you’re merely looking to showcase your business and sell your wares, then it can be done cheaply and easily. Weebly, for instance, offer a simple online tool that’ll give you a polished, professional site that’s up and running in a day, if not hours. It’s free for a basic site and starts at $3 a month for a site with a custom URL, carrying more advanced features.
Something that’s worth getting to grips alongside Weebly is Google’s analytics app. Used wisely, it should help you market more effectively. With it, you can track, analyse and optimise your website, measuring your site’s effectiveness and elsewhere, examine exactly where that traffic is coming from. Up against competitors with bigger budgets, you’ll need to be shrewd and savvy with your marketing. The free Google Analytics app will help you in that.
Businesses big, small and burgeoning are going to spend a lot of time on the phone, dealing with customers and drumming up business. Bootstrapping, you’ll need to make sure you’re doing this in the most cost-effective manner possible. Skype can reduce costs on this front, as with if you can make voice and video calls with other users for free. With over 500 million users worldwide, more often than not you’ll find clients and the like using it. Downloading the app makes logical business sense then, as you should make substantial savings on the phone call front.
Having got this far, I’ve yet to mention anything that will actually help you manage your finances, something integral to surviving and thriving as a bootstrapped business. Pageonce can help on this front, as the app provides you with an overview of all your bills and bank account balances. Elsewhere, you can also view any due dates, transactions, and pay bills using the online platform. Importantly from a bootstrapping perspective, you can also set up real-time alerts and reminders about any forthcoming bills.
There are hundreds of thousands of apps out there for small businesses and you’ll find app alternatives for any number of things. Cast an eye across the web and see what further apps can make bootstrapping easier for you and your business.