Being an entrepreneur can feel intimidating and isolating, especially in the beginning. But thanks to the internet, you don’t have to go it alone. There are a ton of free tools online that can help you grow your business, as well as free trials available for online products that will simplify your marketing and management processes.
Check out our 50 favorite free or free-trial tools and resources to make the day to day of growing your business a whole lot easier.
Getting the word out about your business doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are a few free places to start expanding your brand’s digital visibility.
1. Google My Business
The world’s most used search engine offers businesses a free profile to help you connect with your customers. Use Google My Business to post hours, location, and pricing information, and share pictures and even a virtual tour—all of which will then show up for your audience in Google’s search results.
Bonus: Having a more complete Google My Business profile can also help your website’s overall SEO ranking.
No, we don’t mean the giant books you used to sit on as a kid when you weren’t tall enough to reach the table. YellowPages.com and the YellowPages app are a great free way to help your audience find you online, as well as invite and respond to reviews about your product or service.
Even if you’re not on Yelp, your customers might be talking about you there. Claim your free Yelp business profile to post pictures and business information, see what customers are saying about you, and respond (politely, please!) to your critics.
4. Foursquare for Business
Your customers may have already listed your business on FourSquare for Business and may already be talking about you online – luckily, you can get in on the conversation by claiming your business profile and interacting with your customers immediately. FourSquare for Business is a free and instant way to advertise to a wide audience and interact with your customers, as well as let your audience know your business’ most recent updates by managing your own listing on the app.
Expanding your brand’s digital presence involves a lot of time, effort, and investment. After all that input, you need to know whether your efforts are generating the results you’re looking for. Try these powerful analytics tools to monitor your brand’s online traffic and look for ways to improve.
5. Google Analytics
To know how well your marketing efforts are succeeding at converting leads, you first need to know how and from where your audience is accessing your website. Google offers amazing free analytics tools that help small business owners determine what is working in your marketing plan and gain insights about your web traffic.
6. Hubspot’s Marketing Grader
Do you wonder whether all of the time, energy, and money you invest into marketing your business online is even working? Use Hubspot’s free marketing grader tool to find out how well your blog, social media, and other digital efforts are generating leads, and see how you stack up to the competition.
If you’ve checked your numbers on Google Analytics and don’t like what you see, Unbounce may be able to help. Sign up for their 30-day free trial to design landing pages optimized for increased conversions.
Marketing experts agree that content marketing—and blogging in particular—is absolutely key to small business brand awareness in the digital age. Make the most of your blogging efforts with a few of our favorite tools.
We’re still pinching ourselves at the thought that the gold standard of blog management is absolutely free. Sign up for WordPress through you web hosting service to create and manage a beautiful blog for your business. And with thousands of third party add-ons to make managing your website even easier, the benefits of WordPress for digital marketing really never end.
For businesses with a heavy blog presence and multiple team members writing, editing, and publishing content, this WordPress add-on is, in a word, awesome. Plan content months in advance, notify writers of upcoming posts, and collaborate seamlessly in the writing, editing, and social sharing process, all from a single platform. Free for 14 days. If you’re heavy into blogging, you’ll be hooked by then.
From planning to financing to day-to-day management needs, launching a small business involves a steep learning curve. Take advantage of these free resources to gain the knowledge you need as you develop your business idea into a thriving enterprise.
Searching online for information about developing your business idea can result in a lot of conflicting information. For straightforward business education and advice with no agenda, start at the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website—SBA.gov. Here you can find information about writing business plans, tips for entrepreneurs, and trustworthy information about how to finance your business, and more. It’s an incredible resource for rookie and veteran entrepreneurs alike!
11. Local Small Business Development Center
Sponsored by the SBA, small business development centers throughout the United States have helped thousands of entrepreneurs launch successful businesses through free business education, consulting, and mentoring services. Find your local center here and call to request support from an SBDC advisor in your area.
For over 50 years, non-profit business association SCORE has provided education and mentorship opportunities to help small businesses get off the ground and achieve their growth goals. SCORE.org provides free online learning opportunities as well as confidential in person mentoring services throughout the country from volunteer entrepreneurs with years of business ownership experience.
Whether you’re just starting your new business or refining your existing business model, let these free tools lead the way in your business planning process.
Writing a plan for a new business doesn’t have to mean reinventing the wheel. Check out Bplans.com for sample business plans representing nearly every industry—from caterers to construction companies and beyond!
Even with a sample plan in hand, starting with a blank word doc to write your business plan is horribly intimidating. Use Enloop to easily create a professional looking business plan complete with 3-year financial forecast reporting, and even get a free business plan score to help take your plan from good to great.
Your first business plan is free, with affordable subscription rates for additional plans and added features.
Unless you happen to be independently wealthy, figuring out how to raise capital may be the most overwhelming challenge you’ll face as an entrepreneur. Should you look for investors, or borrow from a bank or online lender? Check out these free resources to help you in your quest to fund your small business.
Whether you’re looking for investors or hiring your first employees, AngelList is your must-have resource for startup recruiting. Hundreds of startups have been matched with angel investors on the site, gaining much needed capital to grow their businesses.
If you’re skipping investors and going the borrowing route to finance your business, Fundera is a one-stop online marketplace to connect you with the right business loan for your needs. Think of it like the Kayak.com for business loans. Fundera itself doesn’t fund loans, but will work with 25+ lenders to find you the best possible rates.
Want to crowdsource your business funding without giving away equity? Launch a funding campaign with Kickstarter: a free to sign-up crowdfunding platform that helps you recruit micro-donors for your business. You can incentivize your donors with future products or gifts of your choice, and Kickstarter will take a small percentage only if your campaign is fully funded.
Tell your story and get a loan for your business. StreetShares is a free online marketplace that will connect you with peer-to-peer lenders for small business funding. Instead of relying only on your credit history, you can complete StreetShares‘ quick application and recruit lenders by sharing your story and demonstrating the value of your business idea.
With an abundance of free tools online, creating a professional and visually stunning digital presence has never been easier. Check out these free tools to generate high impact eye-candy for your brand.
Want the look of professionally designed graphics for your blog or marketing materials without the cost or the expertise? Canva will be your new best friend. Use pre-formatted templates to create social media banners, blog graphics, marketing flyers, and much more. Free and idiot proof, Canva will make your amateur, no-budget marketing effort and make you look like a seasoned pro.
If just the thought of graphic design makes you sweat, Pablo by Buffer is a great place to start. Make your social media stand out with beautiful images created from your text in under 30 seconds. Even your grandmother can do this. We promise.
You see those incredible infographics buzzing through your Twitter feed, and think “that must have taken a trained graphic designer hours to create.” But did you know you can create similarly high impact infographics for your business, for free? Piktochart offers beautiful templates and easy-to-use tools that even non-designers can use to communicate information in a visually compelling way.
More than anything else, being a business owner involves a lot of email. For making decisions, communicating with staff, marketing to customers, and more—you likely live and die by your inbox. Check out these free email tools to make your email life a little more manageable.
Call us biased, but we’ll state without hesitation that Gmail is the best there is in email communication. Whether you’re using a standard free Gmail account or you’ve connected Gmail to your business email account, you can’t beat the easy to use organization of Gmail for archiving and inbox management.
Have a brilliant idea in the middle of the night, but don’t want to blow up your team’s inbox until morning? Or do you need to follow up on an email in a week, but need a reminder to do so? This awesome third party Gmail add-on for scheduled sending and follow-up reminders will help you restore some balance to your email.
Free for the first 10 scheduled messages per month. Nominal subscription for unlimited messages and additional features.
24. Organizer by OtherInbox
Organizer does exactly what its name implies—organizes your inbox. Once it’s added to your email, it will automatically sort through the hundreds of promotional emails, receipts, and newsletters into the folders of your choosing. Designed to prioritize the most important emails and securely keep them at the top of your inbox, Organizer is the ultimate time saver for those whose inboxes are perpetually stuffed. Because those promotional emails and receipts may become “out of sight, out of mind” once they aren’t filling your inbox to the brim, Organizer also sends a “Daily Digest” email to keep you in the know of exactly what emails have been filed into which folders. That way you can keep an eye on what’s coming into your inbox without sacrificing the time to actually sift through each folder while focusing on the emails that are the most critical to you.
If you’re a small time entrepreneur new to the email marketing game, you can’t beat MailChimp for beautiful and easy to create bulk newsletter content. Send up to 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers absolutely free. Your prospects will love the beautiful content in their inbox, and you’ll love MailChimp’s awesome features, including beautiful templates, advanced analytics, easy one-click personalization, and more. Constant Contact is another option that many small business owners try. It can be a little pricier than Mailchimp, but wins in terms of customer support since Mailchimp relies heavily on email and their robust self-service Knowledge Base and Constant Contact has chat, phone, or email.
How much time do you spend every day getting distracted by random junk mail cluttering your inbox? And let’s not even talk about the headache of scrolling to the bottom of all those emails for the tiny unsubscribe button, followed by an elaborate guilt trip before you can finally say “goodbye.”
Just say no to inbox clutter with Unroll.me. Unsubscribe from what you don’t need, and roll the rest up into a once daily summary of all your newsletter subscriptions. When it comes to saving time, this might be the best free tool on our list.
Whether you work with a distributed team or just travel a lot for business, these communications tools will help you stay in touch with your crew from wherever you are.
The first (and probably still the best) internet calling service out there, Skype is the standard for video conferencing between computers, as well as wifi-based calling between mobile devices throughout the world. If you need that personal face-to-face connection with employees or clients from far away, free video conferencing between Skype accounts is the perfect tool to use.
Between social media accounts, email, text messages, chat tools, and more, the multitude of ways that team members communicate can get confusing and leave room for communications to get lost in the shuffle. Use Slack to manage conversations with your team members across devices and accounts on one platform. So you can send an email, receive a reply over text, and follow up with a tweet—and no one misses a beat.
With all the benefits of a physical office environment without the overhead, Sococo is a dream come true for distributed teams. Just log into your virtual office to see who is working, communicate with colleagues by text, audio, or video chat with a click of the mouse, and make conference calls right from your office. Try Sococo’s free starter plan, and you’ll be hooked on the feeling of working in community no matter where you are.
Lawyers are expensive. If you’re a brand new business, the cost of hiring a professional to create basic legal documents can break the bank.
From employment contracts to basic service agreements, Docracy’s open source collection of legal documents can save you thousands of dollars on attorney’s fees. Of course, you’ll want to get those documents reviewed by a professional as soon as you can afford it, but using Docracy is certainly a step above having no contract at all.
Bonus: Docracy also offers free digital signing of legal documents, replacing expensive subscription services for getting client contracts signed.
From accepting credit cards to tracking expenses to time tracking and payroll, the internet is full of amazing resources for managing your company’s finances with minimal headache. But how will you know what works? Check out the free trials for these awesome tools to find the money management workflow that fits your business needs.
Any employee with experience completing traditional expense reports knows what a pain it can be. And administrators know how much time gets wasted tracking down employees for receipts or other information. With Expensify, you can simplify the expense reporting process with smart scanning of receipts, easy mobile tracking of expenses, and one-click reimbursement options. Expensify offers an always free basic plan, plus a free 30-day trial for team and corporate plans with all whistles and bells.
Is not accepting online payments holding your business back from growth? Paypal offers easy online credit and debit card transactions as well as recurring payments with no sign-up cost and no direct fee.
If your business is growing and you’re hiring hourly employees, you’ll quickly find that tracking their time spent working feels harder than it should be. Enter TSheets, a GPS monitored app that lets employees track time right from their cell phones and aggregates timecard reports from every member of your team to with little to no effort required from you. Check out this awesome service with a 14-day free trial.
Once you’ve tracked your employees’ time, there’s still the matter of getting everyone paid. ZenPayroll simplifies the payroll process, giving employees online portal access to update their information and letting you run weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly payroll for your entire team with just a few clicks of the mouse. Get started with a free 2 month trial.
You have big ideas, you have a business plan, your company is funded, you even have amazing graphics for your marketing efforts! But to keep your business afloat day to day, what you need is to simply get things done. Try our favorite free tools for a boost in productivity to move your business forward.
Many busy, on-the-go entrepreneurs swear by Evernote for keeping track of thoughts, plans, and ideas from wherever they are. The app’s free plan lets you clip content from across the web, create your own notes, share with friends, and comment on documents together. And with seamless integration across all your devices, you can work from anywhere without missing a beat.
36. Google Drive
Have you noticed by now that we’re a little Google obsessed? And this may be one of our favorites. Google Drive offers you almost all the same benefits of Microsoft Office, but accessible from anywhere you have online access. Collaborate on documents with colleagues, track spreadsheet changes as you edit, and share with clients quickly without ever waiting for uploads or worrying about having compatible software installed—all for free. Google Drive, what would we do without you?
Do you need a brand management tool for your business? This one could fit the bill. Pilcro lets you to store all of your brand assets (think logos, brand colors, fonts, etc.) in a shared online space. This way your entire team can easily and quickly access the most recent versions of your business’s assets. This is especially handy if you employ freelance designers.
With a growing number of clients and team members to consider, keeping track of who does what when can be a pain. Whether you’re scheduling conference calls, meeting, or work shifts, try these awesome tools to streamline the process, saving you time and brain cells for bigger and better things.
Say “never again” to the headache of trying to coordinate a meeting, dinner, or other event with multiple parties who use different—even (gasp!) non-digital—calendar platforms. Instead, use Doodle to send out a quick poll with available date and time options. Skip the back and forth, let everyone cast their vote, and consider your meeting scheduled!
39. When I Work
Hands down our favorite tool for companies with shift workers of any kind. Instead of endless emails, sticky notes and phone calls to organize your weekly or monthly shift calendar, When I Work will keep track of employee availability, create a balanced shift schedule, notify employees when they work, and let them trade shifts with team members. All you have to do is set your requirements and approve the final schedule.
Sign up for the 30 day free trial. You’ll likely find that the time you save scheduling employees through When I Work is worth every penny of the nominal monthly subscription.
Consultants, therapists, salon stylists, attorneys, and other bill-per-hour service providers swear by YouCanBook.me for quick and easy client scheduling. Integrate this tool with your business website to allow clients to book services online. You can set preferences and session lengths for different services, and the app integrates directly with your Google Calendar to automatically work around any appointments or scheduling conflicts that may arise.
And as long as you don’t mind the minimal “powered by YCB” branding, the standard scheduling service is always FREE!
Every business owner knows you need to be on social media. But actually following through on a social media strategy is another matter entirely. Try these great, free tools to streamline your process and maximize your social media ROI.
Publishing individual social media messages in real time is a drain on time and a recipe for low engagement. By signing up for Hootsuite, you can manage multiple social profiles from a single dashboard. Schedule posts, track mentions, engage with followers, and measure the effectiveness of your social media content, at no cost. It’s the go-to tool for keeping your social media accounts in line.
If Twitter is a big part of your brand development, ManageFlitter is an awesome tool for improving your results. Easily unfollow dormant accounts, track useful analytics, and boost relevant followers with ManageFlitter’s free limited plan.
If you manage social media accounts for your small business, you know the difficulty of editing on mobile for different apps. With InstaSize, you can format and edit videos and photos for Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and more, with ease. The app allows you to add text and filters, retouch faces, and create collages that will make your business stand out.
Beautiful images are essential to making your brand stand out online. But if you’re not a professional photographer and your product isn’t visually compelling, how can you use images in your marketing effort? Try these free stock images site to search for images to use in your blog, social media, and other marketing materials.
This user generated photo sharing site has a huge array of images available for free with or without attribution. Check out the creative commons section of Flickr and read the usage terms to make sure your photo usage is on the up and up.
A great resource for business related stock images, FreeImages is a content marketer’s favorite bookmark for quick generic blog or social media graphics.
If you’re feeling bored by the typical line up of free stock images online, Pixabay is a great resource to shake things up. The images here have a slightly more more indie feel compared to the more generic vibe of traditional stock images.
Though the selection is smaller than most, Unsplash is an awesome resource for stock images that don’t feel like stock images. Updated every 10 days, this site’s collection of free to use, no attribution images will feel like a warm hug, creating that personal connection with your audience that typical stock images can’t quite reach.
Storage and File Sharing
Complicated computer networks and external hard drives are so 2005. Try these cloud storage resources to share files and collaborate on documents without a drawer full of USB cables and fifteen phone calls to your cousin who works in IT.
Modern companies are using Dropbox to share files between employees and collaborate on documents from multiple devices. Save all your documents to the cloud to access from anywhere, and share them via email invites with colleagues, clients, prospects, or whoever may need access. Your 1st GB of data is always free, which for a very small organization may be all you ever need.
Another file sharing and cloud storage service similar to Dropbox. At Box you can store up to 10 GB of data for free, but will have to pay for additional users. If you’re a solopreneur looking to make the most of free cloud storage, Box may be a better solution for your needs.
50. Google Cloud
If you already use a variety of Google apps (which you should; see above), Google Cloud is an obvious choice for backing up files, documents, images, and other content. Integrate it seamlessly with other Google apps to never lose track of your archive files.
We hope our comprehensive resource list will help you take your business to new heights! Did we miss your go-to free business tool or resource? Share your faves with us in the comments below.
Meredith Wood is the founding editor of the Fundera Ledger and a vice president at Fundera.
Meredith launched the Fundera Ledger in 2014. She has specialized in financial advice for small business owners for almost a decade. Meredith is frequently sought out for her expertise in small business lending and financial management.