30+ Digital Tools for Businesses on a BudgetCaroline Laurenson
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Running your own business means you have to wear many hats and perform a wide range of tasks that you probably have never done before. This can be even more challenging in a start-up environment where your business is creating a new unique product or service. Money will also be tight, unless you are lucky enough to have external funding.
We’ve used a range of tools to help our tech start-up to deliver on a tiny budget. Some discovered through research, others were recommendations from our friends in business and some through online networks and forums. Here are our top 30 plus digital tools for a business on a budget.
These tools have become indispensable for our day-to-day operations and have saved us significant time and money. Some are free, some are paid for and others we got at a reduced introductory offer price.
Embarking on an entrepreneurial journey is hard. You’re constantly learning and evolving. We hope that this post helps you with your business and shows you what can be achieved when bootstrapping. There are over 30 digital tools for a bootstrapped business listed here, which hopefully you will try and ultimately get value from.
About Our Blog
We live in an ageing society. But what does that really mean?
In the next 20 years the balance of young and old will shift to the point where there will be one elderly person for every two people of working age. The challenge this presents is two-fold, a reduction in family members able to provide support and a smaller pool of professional carers.
TL Tech is a Smart Homes Solutions provider with a difference. We help people get the best out of smart home technologies and create unique home environments to meet their needs and budget. Our vision is to “create a home that cares for you as you age”.
Smart home technologies have the power to transform lives, especially for the vulnerable in our society. This blog series will be looking to showcase the opportunities, find out more about the people working in this field and how we can create a world where “smart meets kind®”.
The Tool Kit
There are literally hundreds of options when it comes to software and digital solutions. In the sections below are the ones that we use and would recommend to others. Note that some of the links are affiliated, which means if you use our link that we get a small commission if you sign up, but it doesn’t cost you any extra.
I want to re-iterate that I am by no means an expert in any of this, but they are things that I hope help others get started too. Note that we use WordPress, so some of these tips might not be relevant if you have another preferred website platform.
One of the best places we use to discover and try out new tools is AppSumo. This site advertises new software solutions that are looking for early adopters and therefore the deals on offer are often very well priced, with many offering lifetime sign-up deals. They give you a money back guarantee which allows you to try the software and return it if it’s not right for you, requesting any refunds is super easy through your online account. I will highlight below which of our deals came through AppSumo. I have a referral code for this which is you are interested in making a purchase it would be lovely for you to use: http://fbuy.me/v/caroline_4150
|Tool Name & Link||Comments|
|Digital Marketing & PR|
|Publer||This was an AppSumo deal I got for £32.48 for a Gold+ Member lifetime deal!!!!
Plans range from Free to $20/month (when paying annually)
It does all my social media scheduling, has in-built analytics, links with Canva and I can search for content ideas too.
My ambassador link
|MailerLite||This is a nice intuitive email campaign manager that also does landing pages, pop-ups and websites.
I am on the $10/month plan. Plans range from Free to $35/month (when paying annually for 10,000 subscribers).
My ambassador link
|Hunter||Do you need help finding and checking email addresses. There is also a chrome extension to make it super easy to access.
It’s free for 25 searches per month and 50 verifications per month.
|Keywords Everywhere||This was a recommendation and is a super handy free tool that gives you instant data on everything you input to the google search and when browsing You-Tube videos. You can see related keywords, similar things that people have searched for and long-tail keywords.|
|Content Curation & Creation|
|Feedly||You can use this either on the web or mobile app to search for interesting content. If there are sites or RSS feeds that you regularly like to read, you can add them to your follow list to easily see when new content is available. There is a paid version, but I just use the free version.|
|I used to email myself when I found a website or article that I was interested in and wanted to read later or share, then I discovered pocket. Now I add the links to my pocket. There are some cool features of the app, that mean that you can listen to audio versions of your saved sites/articles, highlight important words/passages and it has a Discover feature that suggests other articles based on your reading history.
I use the free version, but you can pay £35.99/year for access to extra features.
|Canva||Canva is an amazing tool that helps you to create graphics, social media posts, YouTube thumbnails, flyers/brochures, videos, literally everything and it is super easy to use. For the pro account it’s £107.88/year, which is amazingly good value.
My ambassador link
|Genial.ly||If you follow our social media you will have seen me using this tool quite a bit. It creates lovely interactive webpages with tooltips that people can slick on to open up linked content. You can get really creative with it or use one of the templates and customise it.
The free account only allows you to share the link to your page publicly, so you wouldn’t be able to use this for sensitive information without upgrading to the €7.49/month subscription.
|Pixlr||This free tool is great for quick image editing and background removal. I am not great when it comes to this sort of task, but this tool makes it easy to do minor edits/annotations. It will show you pop-up adds, but you can close these to then be able to see the screen unobstructed again.|
|Squoosh||A key thing for any website is its speed and one way that you can optimise this is by compressing your images. Or quite often uploads to sites have limits on the file size and you’ll want to shrink it down. Just drag you image onto the Squoosh webpage and choose your image quality and download, all for free.|
|Lumen5||I have made some awesome videos with this free tool, you can check them out over on our YouTube channel. The tool can take existing content from a webpage and turn it into a video. The AI is not great, but it does give a starting point if you’re not experienced with creating videos for you to then edit and customise. There is a great library of images, stock video and soundtracks to choose from.|
|Emojipedia||I am rubbish when it comes to emojis. For a millennial I am not great with texting abbreviations and using social media for personal stuff. This encyclopaedia for emojis is super handy to look them up to use in posts.|
|Diagrams.net||I love a flowchart and this free web tool is super handy for creating diagrams.|
|Open Broadcasting Software (OBS)||This is a great piece of software for doing live streams and also to jazz up presentations. You can create your own screen layouts so that you can see your slides and your camera at the same time, add captions, sub-titles etc.|
|Davinci Resolve||This software allows you to edit your video content. I’d like to pretend that I know how to use this, but Thomas did most of the video editing for our Facebook tutorials.|
|Touch Portal||This is a super cool app that allows you to share your mobile phone screen to your computer, which is really helpful if you are trying to show how a feature works in an online workshop or meeting.|
|No Coffee||This is a chrome extension that allows you to see what webpages look like for various different vision impairments. This is a good way to check things like colours and contrast to make sure your content is as accessible as possible.|
|ADA Compliance Check Basic||This is a wordpress plugin that checks your site pages against WC3/WCAG Web Accessibility Standards. It gives you good feedback on ways that you can improve your website and content.|
|Userway||Userway have a fantastic widget that you can add to your website that allow your visitors to then customise their experience to suit their needs. This isn’t a replacement for good design, and I know our site isn’t perfect, but it is an easy thing to add that shows you really care about equity of access to information.|
|Monster Insights||There is a free Wordpress plugin version of this which shows you the last month of your website analytics. It has nice clear visuals and helps you see what people are searching for and how they are using your site. It also comes with a free Headline Analyzer tool.|
|Google Site Kit||Site Kit is another free way to easily view your site analytics in one dashboard on your Wordpress site. You can also check the speed of your site and other important metrics for the Google search ranking.|
|Better Docs||A knowledge base is a great way to drive content to your website. I looked a few different options before settling on this one as I liked the user interface and the fact that it is as easy as writing a blog post to create new help guide resources (you can check our out here). There is a small cost of $39/yr.|
|Amelia||In today’s world it’s important for people to book online. Amelia can help you to manage both events and appointments, including taking payments all through your website. It’s only £47/yr, but there have been deals on Appsumo in the past giving a small discount. You can check out our events page here and appointments here.|
|Beacon||This was another of my Appsumo deals and was only £56.42 for lifetime access. Beacon allows you to create lead magnets which are web responsive smart PDFs, i.e. the layout changes depending on what device the user views it on. They have literally loads of templates and advice on creating the perfect lead magnet. I already use Mailerlite for the sign-up pop-up boxes, but Beacon has this feature as well. They have recently also launched a knowledge base builder on beta release, but I haven’t tried this as we already have Better Docs for this.
You can check out one of our lead magnets here.
My ambassador link
|Thrive Suite||We spent ages looking for a quiz builder for our website and in the end decided to go for Thrive suite as it also has an online course builder tool that we’d like to use for our smart home training material. It is a bit pricer, but there is literally loads of functionality for building websites, generating leads, A/B testing, collecting testimonials. The annual subscription is $228.|
|Kit.co||This is a super cool way for you to collate all the shopping links for the kits you use and recommend. You can use affiliate links, making it easier for you to collect commission on any sales through your links.|
|Pure Chat (Ruby)||We wanted to make it easy for people to get in touch with us so have added this little widget onto the website which you’ll see on the bottom left hand of the screen. It is free to use and offers to email a copy of the conversation after you’re done, so great if we’re giving technical advice that might be hard to follow. You can set your availability schedule too, so you don’t get messages at all hours.|
|Loom||This is a video recording tool which is great for walk throughs and sharing information asynchronistically. The free plan is limited to 100 videos 5 minutes maximum.|
|Google Forms||Forms are a great way to collect information. We’ve used this for getting feedback on our user design and also collect details for competitions. They are super easy to set-up and data can be exported or linked (if you’re clever enough to do this, here’s a handy guide from Zapier!)|
|Productivity / File Management|
|Calendly||Organising meeting times used to be quite a laborious task with back and forth emails to find a suitable time. Calendly is an amazing tool which you can link your calendar to, input your meeting preferences (including availability windows, duration, buffer times, etc) and then share the link for people to book in their preferred slot. It integrates with Zoom, creating joining instructions for online meetings and automatically emails them out.|
|Zapier||Zapier is a really powerful automation tool that helps you to link different applications together. They have lots of easy to follow guides and ideas of ways to work more efficiently. The free account allows you to do 100 tasks per month.|
|Trello||This is now one of my favourite tools for keeping organised. We have one main board that acts as a dashboard for all our activities and then separate ones for more specific things like social media content. You can check out our Kinsdpace one here. The free version allows you to make up to 10 boards and there are loads of templates and examples to help you get started.
My ambassador link
|Streak||This tool works with Gmail and allows you to manage workflows. You can use it as a CRM to track conversations and add in notes and follow-up reminders.|
|LastPass||A password manager is essential today to keep your accounts and data secure. LastPass has an app and chrome extension that helps to create strong passwords, store and auto-complete them for you.
Team and family accounts are £3.40/month.
Starting out in business there are so many unknowns. On this journey we are constantly learning and trying to improve. We’re learning how to be resourceful and use tech to it’s full advantage.
Some key takeaways based on our experience in business so far include:
- Deals platforms like App Sumo can have some amazing gems, often heavily discounted or even lifetime deals that you won’t find anywhere else.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment and try out things to find what works for you. I’ve had to build-up my confidence little by little when it comes to websites and social media tools.
- Ask people around you about the tools that they use and recommend. The majority of the tools that we use were recommended.
I’d love to know what your favourite tools are and how they have benefited your business. Feel free to drop some comments below to share your thoughts.
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