By Eoin O'Hara
Life as an entrepreneur or freelancer can be a costly old business, therefore one of the most important lessons that you can learn is to make the most of free opportunities given to you.
To help you we have winkled out 20 free resources and tools for entrepreneurs.
Wordpress: Lets you create free websites and choose from hundreds of free compatible themes. Especially good for blogging, but can also be used for ecommerce.
Wix.com Arguably more geared towards business websites, many entrepreneurs choose this free resource because of its extensive range of services specific to particular industries.
Free logo design
Design Hipster Logo Generator (Not just for hipsters) A ridiculously easy-to-use generator that takes you through a few simple steps to create a decent logo for your business in minutes. There’s plenty to play around with and no fiddly or frustrating issues with graphic positioning.
Flaming Text If your logo is text based, you could do much worse than taking a look at Flaming Text. Admittedly some of the styles are a little too close to Clipart for comfort, but it features quite a few striking and tasteful designs if you are willing to go hunting for them.
Logo Garden If simplicity is what you are after in a logo then you should take a look at Logo Garden. The offering is not the most flashy we have ever seen, but there is an extensive range of graphics, all separated out nicely into industry categories. Don’t expect the most professional logo ever, but you should be able to create a decent placeholder until budgets and time permit a more permanent effort.
What makes a good logo? Making sure your logo is unique can help to set your business apart from your competitors.
Free invoice generators
Free Invoice Generator Aptly named and easy-to-use, all you need to do to create your own invoices is edit the template provided and then download it in whatever format you like.
Invoiced Lite Totally free and unlimited, Invoiced Lite offers loads of additional customisations to make your invoices look as professional as possible.
FreshBooks Cloud Accounting
One of the better known of the free invoice generators FreshBooks offers a range of fancy online payment tracking services which some entrepreneurs might find very useful.
Free stock images
Pexels Has some really nice images which are totally free to use and modify for commercial purposes. All of the images are in high definition and are really useful for those times when you need an image for illustrative purposes and don’t want anything too flashy. Just be careful of overt product placement which could make your blog look like an advertisement for Apple or Samsung.
Lives of Pix Subtle images of urban and natural landscapes make it easy to find an image that won’t overpower your branding. However, the images within the collection are not as obviously suited to commercial purposes as Pexels, so this is probably the place to go when you have exhausted your usual channels.
PicJumbo- If you prefer to modify images rather than use them as-is, you should have a look at PicJumbo. As well as an impressive range of free images, there is also a tool which lets you format the image into various guises allowing it to be used for all manner of commercial purposes.
Free emails / newsletters
The biggest name in emails & newsletters for business, MailChimp is especially good for startups and freelancers because its free feature allows you to send up to 12,000 emails to up to 2,000 subscribers per month. Thereafter you can scale up your membership level as your subscriber list dictates.
If you like to make your email newsletters look as eye-catching as possible then BenchMark is worth taking a look at. It is very much focussed on aesthetics and ensuring that your communication with subscribers looks as impressive as possible on all devices and screen sizes. Every month you can send up to 14,000 emails to up to 2,000 subscribers for free.
If you are after something a little less extravagant then Campayn offers a nice simplistic way of quickly professionalising your email communication with your subscribers. There are loads of pre-constructed templates and an editor to help you send out regular updates with the minimum of fuss. The service is free for up to 20,000 emails per month to 2,000 contacts.
Free design resources
GraphicBurger A decent sized collection of free design resources which can be used to create a consistent and professional look to your branding. GraphicBurger offers a mix of UI kits, icons, fonts, text effects, backgrounds and more. Be careful though, as not all of the resources are free, so you’ll need to spend some time looking for what you want.
Pixeden An extensive collection of free and premium resources for everyday business needs. There should be something to match all branding needs, as they have a good range of traditional & highly stylised resources available. What we like about this one is that many of the templates are divided into suggested industry / market with illustrations of how you might best utilise them.
MediaLoot The majority of the products require you to sign-up to a monthly subscription, however if you click on the Freebies icon, you will find a perfectly useable collection of simple yet professional resources, that are good for those times when you need to create something eye-pleasing fast. There are some especially good landing page templates to choose from.
Free accountancy software
NB many online accountancy services will offer a ‘free trial’, with the option to cancel after a certain length of time, or roll onto a recurring subscription. You should be aware that once you begin using a service you will more than likely not want to change to another - so if you are looking for something free long-term, you would do well to shop around. The two services below are examples of alternative free cloud accountancy software.
Wave Good for small businesses and startups with less than 10 employees. Wave is a cloud accountancy software that offers free services with unlimited usage indefinitely. This is a great option with lots of useful features but the downside is the service is funded by advertising revenue so you’ll have to put up with some marketing material. Other than that, it seems to have all bases covered with everything you would expect to find in a cloud-based accountancy software.
QuickFile This is a good option for those who are very new to accounting as it breaks everything down into simple to follow steps with a good deal of automation and minimal complexity. The free version of the software is free up 10,000 ledger entries per year, so this is something that you need to keep an eye on in case you exceed your limit!
Free social-media management
Unless you are planning to schedule hundreds of messages per day, the free version of Hootsuite social media management dashboard is a mighty good way to keep a handle on your social media activity. The premium version makes it a little easier to control scheduling, but the free version is so extensive that it will easily cover 95% of your social media needs. The interface is a little bit dull and ‘functional’ but it works superbly well.
Eoin O'Hara is a business developer and lead copywriter at Startacus.net.