You can spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on business software to run your on-line business or  can look at alternative solutions to increase profits. Building a business presence on the web with software that has all the features you need to get your business started for free.

Software alternatives to “brand name” software that can get your business up and running quickly, with no financial investment:

  • Google Gmail (replaces Microsoft Outlook for email)
    If you have separate business and personal email addresses, the last thing you want is to have to switch back and forth between them. Many people use Microsoft Outlook to handle all of their email addresses, so that they only have one place that they have to look. Instead, try using Gmail makes it easy to handle multiple email addresses, and it runs light and quick. So if you need to search through your vast backlog of email, you have the speed and power of Google behind it. Google Gmail offers a number of other great little tools, but the ability to easily handle multiple email addresses is at the top of the list.
  • Google Docs (replaces Microsoft Word/Powerpoint/Excel)
    First, if you need to work with documents, you need software that can handle them. Microsoft Office (Word –word processing, Excel – spreadsheets, Powerpoint – presentations) is the industry standard when it comes to working with documents. MS Office will cost anywhere from $100 –  $300 to get started. Microsoft has priced itself making it hard for everyone to afford it. I will say they have reduced the price from years back, but still make it hard for some of us.  out so that any business looking for the latest software with no money is left in the dust. Google Docs offers a similar tool for free.  This software lives entirely in your Web browser.
  • Evernote (replaces Microsoft OneNote)
    Brainstorming is a valuable practice in a business. Whether you are keeping track of your latest ideas or just fleshing out your latest campaign, having a centralized place to store your thoughts is valuable. Microsoft OneNote is a handy piece of software, but it is expensive. Instead, sign up for Evernote, and store your thoughts online. There, you can access them from anywhere so if you are out and about and have that great business idea, you can pull out your phone and get it into Evernote (via an Evernote app or by texting thru tweeter)  so that you will not forget it. Their excellent notebook / tagging organizing scheme make finding any of your thoughts as efficient as possible.
  • Spreadsheet or ClearCheckbook (replaces Microsoft Money/Quicken)
    Tracking all of your expenses and income is a hassle, especially if you have separate business expenses. While many choose to use accountants for their finances, I much prefer handling the transaction record keeping myself. Set up a spreadsheet in Google Docs and you can keep track of your finances on your own. Or, you can use a service like ClearCheckbook, which gives you a few more reporting options. Either way, the bloated price of dedicated financial software just isn’t worth it.
  • Gimp (replaces Adobe Photoshop)
    One of the “necessary evils” of graphic design has been Photoshop. A powerful and useful tool, Photoshop is also incredibly expensive. If you are looking to save money. Gimp is a free tool that works very similarly to Photoshop. It’s an image manipulation tool. The interface is slightly different, but once you use it, you can use it for plenty of graphic design and desktop publishing purposes.
  • Scribus (replaces Adobe InDesign)
    Creating a publication, whether it is a magazine or a newsletter, can be a difficult  without the right software. Again, Adobe is the standard most of us utilize, but Scibus is a free tool that offers much of the same functionality, allowing you to create elegant and beautiful PDFs and printed documents with little hassle and its free.

There are plenty of ways you can build a business online, and you can reduce your overhead by saving money on software.  Use some of these free software alternatives, and you’d be surprised how quickly and easily you can get moving.

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