One of the benefits of SaaS (software as a service) is the availability of free services for businesses. Although I think basing your entire business on free services is not the way to go, trying out free services and moving to more robust fee based services is a great way to start.
Many companies have launched free services, in the hopes of upselling businesses to fee based services or massing a large audience and selling advertising around the free service.
In fact I was in Apple Bee’s yesterday and one of the waiters noticed my Google NYC search. He told me how much he loves Google and uses all of their services. Other services that come to mind are Microsoft’s OfficeLIve and MyBizHomePage which is a free service giving QuickBooks users a dashboard of their finances.
Other free tools you might be interested in, outlined by “getting customers”, “making money”, “staying connected”, and “staying organized” are below:
Attract locals: Intuit WebListings (marketingtools.intuit.com) is a free online tool that gets your business listed on local search sites so customers can find you even if you don’t’ have a website.
Get online: Homestead (www.homestead.com) offers easy website design tools and services, including 2,000 design templates, to help you create a website and sell online. Homestead’s tools and services are free for the first 30 days and inexpensive after the trial period.
Manage your finances: QuickBooks Simple Start (simplestart.com) is free, easy-to-use accounting software to manage your business finances. It helps you stay organized, look professional and be ready for tax time.
Get paid: Billing Manager (billingmanager.com) is a free online invoicing tool that helps you get paid. It lets you get and stay organized, see all overdue invoices or who owes you the most, and create and send professional-looking online invoices.
Get expert advice: JumpUp.com is a free small business resource site where new and established business owners can get the best answers to their most pressing questions. They can also join an online community of like-minded entrepreneurs.
Talk via your computer: Skype (skype.com) allows you to make calls from your computer — free to other people on Skype and cheap to landlines and cell phones around the world.
Find documents: Google Desktop (desktop.google.com) allows you to find any file on your computer with a basic and advanced search function. It also can embed in your Outlook email client so you can sift through all of your emails.
Organize your search: Mozilla Firefox (mozilla.com/firefox) is a free and fast web browser that features tabbed browsing so that you can view multiple web pages quickly and easily. (Editorially – I use FireFox and love it. Especially the newest version – 3.0)