Five free tools for entrepreneurs

Photo by Matt Henry
Women make badass business owners. There’s no doubt about it. Since the recession hit in 2008, the number of self-employed women has increased by 40 per cent compared to 13 per cent for men, and said women bring in 20 per cent more revenue than their male counterparts…with 50 per cent less investment.

So, we should be celebrating right? Well, there might be more cause to celebrate if these stories weren’t clouded by tales of female founders having to create fake male colleagues to be taken seriously, having to make clear that professional meetings are not dates, and the drove of other frustrating stories being published day after day. All sexism in entrepreneurship is undoubtedly a tough reality, but the real stinger is the sexism in the world of funding. Men are 86 per cent more likely to land VC funding for their business and 56 per cent more likely to secure angel funding. Think crowdfunding is the answer? Only eight per cent of businesses that raised money through crowdfunding in 2015 were run by women.

While this inequality is gaining more attention than ever before, with female specific solutions coming to market – like Allbright Fund – and high profile interest in supporting female entrepreneurs, real change will take time.

And we don’t all have the time to wait. As well as doing our part to change the business world for the better, individual female entrepreneurs can also help ourselves in the short term by not burning through money where it’s not 100 per cent necessary.

As the old saying goes, as women, we’ll have to achieve 100 per cent more than men in order to get 50 per cent of the recognition – let’s not distract ourselves from achieving the best we can with financial strain.

We’re all familiar with the old reliable freebies such as Mailchimp and Google Analytics, but here are some tools that you might not have come across, or might not have realised you can use for the grand price of zero pounds and zero pennies.

Evernote – I am a huge fan of Evernote – it’s the perfect tool for writing, collating, organising and sharing. It syncs seamlessly so I can start writing an article on the tube on my phone, get home and pick right back from where I left off on my MacBook, and then even add anything I suddenly realise I’ve forgotten right before I go to bed (yes I go to bed with my phone, terrible habit I know!).

Of course, the free version (called Basic, just to remind you you ain’t special) has its limitations – you can only sync across two devices and you can upload a maximum of 60MB worth of files per month but for some freelancers and entrepreneurs, that’s more than enough.


Fave feature: I love the fact that you organise your content into Notebooks and Notes, rather than Folders and Files. I don’t know why, I guess it’s the creative in me!

Burst – I will be the first to admit that I used to be a Pexels fangirl. But then everyone else fell in love with Pexels, and now I can’t escape the same guy in the red hat writing on a whiteboard. You know the one…! So, thankfully, a new kid has burst onto the scene. All images are free for both personal and commercial use, and they don’t require attribution (though it’s always a nice gesture).

To demonstrate just how good Burst is, all the images in this post are from their library (except those displaying each tool!)

Photo by Gordon Hatusupy

 

Fave feature: You can sign up to receive new photos to your inbox, or on the site you can filter to new photos so that you’re not publishing snaps which have already appeared on every post on a similar topic in the last three months.

Trello – I’m a real lover of pen and paper when it comes to to-do lists, but when those to-do’s involve a team, Trello is the one. It allows you to create boards, lists and cards to effectively manage your tasks, and you can assign specific team members to tasks so that they don’t get left behind. It’s a great way to manage large projects, or even just day-to-day collaboration, leaving no room for miscommunication or unaccountability.

Ideal when you’re busy trying to build an empire. The helpfully named Free version has limitations in terms of integrations and file sizes but you can make do with these by using cloud file tools like Google Drive and Dropbox.

 

Fave feature: To really bring your board to life, you can personalise them with images. So, for example, if you’re working on a big project that, if successful, will lead to a huge team holiday, you can change the backdrop of the board to a beach – talk about motivation!

Typeform – SurveyMonkey, you’ve served us well – but, have you seen Typeform?! The first time I completed a Typeform on someone else’s site, I was sure it was some kind of fancy, expensive plugin I could only dream of having. I went straight onto their site to gaze longingly at the pricing only to see that it was free 9well, freemium but still).

Since then I’ve legit been looking for any excuse to create a form. These forms are beautiful, intuitive, and work perfectly on mobile. You can use them for surveys, contact forms, quizzes…pretty much anything. With the Basic (there’s that word again) version, you’re limited to 100 responses per month, and 10 questions per form.
Fave feature: You can use Typeform with Zapier to create some awesome (time saving) integrations into over 100 apps, including our good friends Evernote and Trello.

Wave – With all the money you’ve saved on the tools above it would be a shame to get caught out by overspending or unpaid invoices. Enter stage right, Wave. I haven’t used this but I’ve read a lot of great things. Create, send and track invoices, track income and expenditure, and scan your receipts (you know you’ll lose them if you don’t)…all for free!

This is enough to keep a solopreneur going for a while. Once your business takes off, you might want to use Wave for credit card processing and to pay your team members. While this isn’t free, it works on a pay as you go basis with transparent pricing – no monthly fees, no hidden prices, no hassle. Sounds good, right?

Fave feature: Again, I haven’t used Wave, but as a financial novice, I like that you can securely invite collaborators – and you can give them access to specific sections. So, if you want help on your payroll but don’t want prying eyes on income and expenditure, they’ve got you covered.

About the author 

Babs is a self-confessed career girl and wannabe yogi on a mission to help driven professionals be their best selves.

Through Crazy Ambition, Babs uses written content, events and workshops to support individuals in achieving their professional goals without compromising on their mental and physical wellbeing.

Related Posts

X