Starting a business can break the bank, especially if you're bootstrapping the costs yourself. You may have to dig into your savings account or unroll that wad of emergency cash you have stored underneath your bed to help pay for start-up costs. Whether you're spending massive amounts to hire a lawyer, on marketing costs, or on the production of a product you want to sell, finding free tools along the way will make you feel like you hit the jackpot.
Cutting costs along the way will help you feel like a budget pro, and we have just the list of places you should head to first that'll help you save money in an array of areas.
Check out these 15 free business tools that you can start using immediately, with no strings attached.
1. Google Analytics
If you're looking for a tool that will help you track the demographics and behavior of those visiting your website, Google Analytics is a user-friendly and free tool that will do the job. You can set it up in under 30 seconds and spend as much time as your desire learning about your website's visitors, what they are clicking on, and even what the last thing they viewed was before they decided to leave.
2. Yoast SEO
SEO can seem complicated to understand and set up. Usually, SEO experts will charge you a pretty penny to help you out. But if you're looking to up your SEO game quickly and without spending any money, YOAST SEO is the plug-in for you. It's compatible with Wordpress and will help you increase your search engine traffic.
3. Invoice Generator
When it comes to collecting payments and sending bills, you can invest in a website, or you can use the free tool Invoice Generator. It sets up a template even saves your past invoices so you can reuse them month after month.
4. Infographic Maker
When information seems complicated to understand or you want to break down a key finding or study to make it digestible for your site viewers, you may want to employ an infographic. While a designer may charge you a fee to create this, Infographic Maker allows you do it free of charge.
When you need to share files or documents that are too large to attach or too hasslesome to send in one email, Dropbox will come to your rescue; it is a service that lets you upload and share files with others for free.
6. Tiny Letter
Any marketing expert will tell you that sending out communication to customers or people interested in your business is a good idea. If you need a free service to help you do this, try Tiny Letter, where you can find easy-to-use email templates.
7. Boomerang for Gmail
Writing and sending emails at 3 am may not be the professional business look you're going for. But if you have the urge to get work done while everyone else is asleep, try Boomerang, a plugin for Gmail that lets you write and schedule your emails.
If you want to network from your couch, Rapportive is a great tool that connects with your email to help you see the details of your contacts inside your inbox. You can find out what they've been up to recently and more details on them that may help with targeting an email to them.
9. Enloop for business plans
Looking to put together a business plan? Enloop is a business-plan-writing app that helps you get that done step-by-step, all without charge.
If you're looking to hire employees and don't want to pay a recruiter to help or pay to post the job on LinkedIn, you can head over to AngelList to post a job and find potential employees.
For those of you who don't have access to Photoshop or have Photoshop but no clue how to use it, try Canva, a free photo correction and editing tool. It allows you to size photos or marketing collateral to use it on Facebook, Instagram, and other key platforms.
If you're having problems finding a convenient and easy way to communicate with your employees, Slack is a great internal communication tool that makes it easy to chat, no matter where you are or what device you are using.
If you are looking for contract examples, a place to share a contract, negotiate and have the other party sign online, Docracy is the tool that allows you to accomplish all of the above.
14. Google Drive
If you are working with other employers or customers and want to share documents with them, the easiest way would be via Google Drive. You can use free applications that are compatible with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
Setting up appointments or coffee chats for networking can seem like a headache. But paying an assistant or even virtual assistant to help you out can be too expensive. YouCanBook.Me is a free online tool that links with your calendar and makes scheduling appointments a breeze.
Three years ago, I made a deal with myself - I wanted to have $100,000 saved when I'm 25. But I didn't mind if it didn't happen until the day before my 26th birthday.
One of my biggest priorities in life has always been to save as much money as possible — and I owe much of that to my parents, who made sure I had a strong financial education at a young age.
My dad even helped me start a vending machine business when I was nine. The experience taught me essential skills like how to pitch a business, cope with rejection and open a checking and savings account.
For the past three years, I've never made more than $80,000. About a year ago, I reviewed my rate of savings and investments and realized that I was on track to save $100,000. With only a car loan away from being debt free, I've got another year and $10K to go!
I want to acknowledge that privilege is a key part of my story. I'm white, I come from a middle-class family, and I was able to graduate college without any debt. All these things helped a great deal.
But my parents didn't raise me with a silver spoon. Paying for college was a collaborative process. We'd sit down at least twice a year to discuss how we were going to pay for the next semester. The first question they'd always ask me was: "How much can you contribute?"
I've been fortunate. But it also takes a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and responsibility to save and maximize your earnings. Feeling motivated and knowing that I'll be prepared for whatever life throws my way fuels my drive to keep making smart financial decisions. Here's how I'm getting to $100K.
- I side-hustled
This kick-started my journey towards six-figures. In addition to saving the majority of my 9-5 salary, my first year of freelance social media marketing made me quite a bit of cash that I could immediately save. I was able to establish both a SEP IRA and a fully-funded emergency fund with my earnings.
2. I started investing early
Knowing that compound interest is so important, I wanted to start investing early to have my money work for me. Once I started my first big-girl job, I opened my first Roth IRA. Starting to save for retirement at age 22, I was able to max out my Roth each year and also contribute to aSEP IRA and a non-retirement investment account. My first job out of school had a 401(k), but you couldn't contribute until you were there at least a year. Knowing I wasn't planning on staying long — I was at that job for a year and a few months — I opened a Roth 401(k) and then rolled my earnings to my Roth IRA.
3. I negotiated salary offers and raises
Negotiating should be a collaboration, not a confrontation. Growing up, I watched my father sit on hold, patiently waiting to negotiate our cable and phone bills. Negotiation was always part of my life, and I grew up with parents who knew how to do it. So when I was offered my first social media freelance gig, I negotiated over $10k more than they offered. And after achieving a 20% bump at my first 9-5, I negotiated $20k more than what was offered at my next job. And $10k more at the next job. If negotiating for raises freaks you out, here's a guide that can help.
4. I've automated my savings
Automating your money not only makes your life easier, but it makes you feel like the percentage you're saving just doesn't exist. I have 26% of each paycheck automatically deposited into a high-yield savings account. This savings account is purposefully at a different bank than my day-to-day checking account, so I'm less likely to withdraw from it and less likely to think about it. This "set it and forget it" level of financial freedom was something I worked hard for -- through money diarying, budgeting, and conscious spending. So now, my savings amount is completely on autopilot.
At the age of 24, I know that I am on the right track to make my goal a reality. Inspired by my own journey, I wanted to help women everywhere to have that same feeling of confidence that financial education gives — and get information from someone who isn't an old, rich white dude. As a money speaker and coach, I run Her First $100K, a financial literacy platform for millennial women on the path to get their first $100K too.
It's possible to achieve your first $100K — whether that's debt paid off, earned, saved, invested, or something else. With intentional strategies and focus, you've got this!