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How to get free office software if you run a small business

How to get free office software if you run a small business
Image source: Getty Images


With so many popular software packages changing to a subscription model, small businesses can save time and money with free office software. Get more control over your finances and your data.

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When it comes to software, you’ll find two types of free offerings:

  • Free as in beer – you don’t have to pay for it but it’s controlled by a company; and
  • Free as in speech – you can do more-or-less what you want, including modifying and redistributing it.

With free software, always check the funding model. Open-source software is maintained by volunteers, while free (as in beer) software is maintained by organisations. They need to earn their money somehow.

Invoicing and accounting

If, like many small business owners, you dread dealing with invoices and accounting, don’t worry. Free accounting software makes it easy!

Waveapp

OS: Web, Android and iOS
Licence: Closed-source, funded by pay-per-use processing of credit card payments
Free version: All features except credit card processing

Waveapp’s free, user-friendly online service offers accounting, invoicing and receipt scanning. It’s easy to create and send invoices from your computer and mobile. Even better, the secure open-banking connection automates income and expense tracking. And the simple dashboard shows you immediately whether you’re making a profit.

Stock management

If your business ships products, you’ll need to manage your inventory. Why waste time setting up spreadsheets and databases when you can use dedicated software? Even better if it’s free!

Zoho Inventory

OS: Web, Android and iOS
Licence: Closed-source, funded by paid plans
Free version: 25 online orders, 25 offline orders, 50 shipping labels and 50 tracked shipments per month.

Zoho Inventory is an integrated inventory management solution. With Zoho Inventory, you can manage and track your stock from order to dispatch. Packing slips, invoicing, tracking, barcode scanning and customer management make inventory management simple.

Project management

If you work alone, life is simple. Nonetheless, as your business grows you’ll need to manage, track and communicate with your team. Sure, email chains and chat apps are one way, but do you really want to spend your whole day answering email? This is where project management software comes in handy.

Basecamp

OS: Web, Android, iOS, Mac and Windows
Licence: Closed-source, funded by paid plans
Free version: 20 users, 1GB storage, three projects

Basecamp’s easy-to-use interface divides work into projects, each containing all the useful material –discussions, files, tasks and deadlines – divided into neat categories. It’s easy to find what you need. Integrated message boards and chat, automated check-in questions and integrations with many other services make this ideal for any business.

Password management

Every business is different, but one thing they all have in common is the need to log into countless sites and services. Without a password manager, people either use simple passwords they can remember, or revert to the time-honoured method of writing their login details on post-it notes on their desk. Neither solution is ideal, especially when free, secure software is around.

Bitwarden

OS: Web, Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, Linux, CLI, self-hosted option and browser plug-ins
Licence: Open-source, funded by paid plans
Free version: Sharing for two users, two collections, unlimited shared items
Bitwarden, a user-friendly password manager, encrypts your data before it leaves your device, so you can be confident it’s secure. As an open-source project, the source code is available, making it more likely that any security problems will be detected and fixed. On every device, Bitwarden just works.

Remote meeting

In the age of COVID, remote meetings are no longer optional. Big names like Zoom and Teams dominate, but they have challenging restrictions. Free remote meeting software provides more flexibility when you’re out of the office.

Jitsi

OS: Web, Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, Linux and self-hosted option
Licence: Open-source
Free version: Unlimited access

Jitsi is community-supported, flexible and completely free video conferencing software. It has everything you’d expect from a video conferencing program, including screen sharing, streaming, text chat, statistics and more. Better, while you can install any of several cross-platform programs if you choose, it can run directly in a browser so your staff and clients can avoid installing yet another program.

​Picktime

OS: Web, Android, iOS, Mac and Windows
Licence: Closed-source, will be funded by paid plans in the future but will remain free for early adopters
Free version: Access to all features

If you’re still juggling emails, calendars and appointments with staff and clients, Picktime can help. It’s a free online scheduling platform that makes it simple to book appointments and check and share schedules. It even integrates with remote meeting services like Jitsi!

What next?

Free office software saves your business time and money. You wouldn’t use a hammer to tighten a screw, so why struggle with the wrong tools for your business? And if you don’t have a business yet, why not start a small business? A business credit card could help you get started.

Ready to find the credit card that’s right for your business?

A great place to start is MyWalletHero’s list of the top business credit card offers.


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