The quickest and cheapest way to get your website up and running with no outlay is by using a free service such as WordPress.com or blogger. These sites will give you your own subdomain name such as www.yourbusiness.wordpress.com. But if you want your business website to reside on a top-level domain like www.yourbusiness.com instead, then you’ll have to buy your own domain name.
Domain names can be very expensive if you’re after a short, notable name on a .com address, but there are some places where you can get a domain name for free.
Free website domains
You can get a totally free top-level domain at Freedomain as long as you’re happy with a .co.nr (Republic of Nauru) suffix and provide their site with a back-link.
An alternative way is to buy a hosting package with One and you can get your domain registered for free for the first year. Similarly, 1and1 will provide a free domain, including .com domains, for free for the first year with their small business hosting package.
Cheap web domains
For the no-strings-attached registration of a new domain, which you can then take with you to the web host of your choosing, Freezone offer competitively priced domains, as do Go Daddy and Fasthosts.
It’s essential to have up to date antivirus software on your computer, tablet or mobile. If you get infected with a destructive virus, it can mean considerable downtime and quite possibly the loss of important data, so you should always ensure you have antivirus software installed and that your virus definitions are up to date.
Thankfully, it’s not difficult to install antivirus software these days and it’s a relatively painless, almost invisible process to update virus definitions too.
These are our recommended free virus checkers – use one of these and your business devices and data should be safe from attack.
AVG Free is one of the best known free antivirus solutions and is available for PC and Mac as well as many other mobiles and tablets. It also blocks spyware and malware.
Another well-know solution is Avast Antivirus free. Again this includes malware protection and works on PC, Mac, Android and iOS.
Finally, Avira Free Antivirus again works on Mac, PC, iOS and Android and offers solid protection from viruses and malware.
Note: it’s vital to allow the software to regularly update virus definitions in order to stay protected against new attacks.
When you need to send digital files, most of us tend to use email. However, when the files start to get larger than around 10Mb, that’s when you need to look elsewhere.
There’s lots of free cloud storage available these days and most give you the ability to share files from there. But if you’re looking for a solution that simply transfers a file without setting up an email and storage account, then one of these should do the trick.
The biggest capacity free transfer account we’ve found comes from Wetransfer who let you sent up to 2Gb files for free using their very simple web interface – and you don’t even have to register. Nice.
Hightail offers a free account that allows transfers up to 250Mb. You can send 300Mb files with Sendspace on their free, ad-supported account. Transferbigfiles has a 100Mb limit on their free account but allow up to 20Gb on their paid for accounts.
Communications traditionally meant hardware. But increasingly, software solutions have replaced hardware and offer a range of cheap and free solutions, depending on what you’re after.
Below, you’ll find links to our pages on free or low-cost messaging, video calling, screen sharing and conference calling.
Everyone has access to a telephone, so phone conferencing offers a quick, easy and reliable way to talk to remote workers and collaborators.
Microsoft’s Skype is the most popular conference calling software. It also offers video conferencing too but if you just want to use voice, you can disable the video function. Calls to landlines and mobiles have to be made from Skype though, and you’ll need to pre-load your account with credit first. Skype offers conference calling for up to 25 people.
For traditional conference calling using telephones, the following are probably your best bet.
Phone conference calling
If you use a country-based conference calling facility, then there can be call charges for attendees, depending on where they call from and unless their inclusive minutes include calls to that country. So be careful which services you’re using – and if all your attendees reside in your country, it’s best to choose a service based in your country too.
The following services allow phone users to call a single number and it’s the callers who will be billed, allowing you to organise the conference call just for the price of your own call. See the various providers’ websites for call pricing.
In the UK, Powownow is probably the best-known voice/phone conferencing tool. You visit their site to generate a unique PIN then all callers call the powownow phone number, then enter the PIN to join the call. In the US, Free Conference Calling offers a similar service and also the ability to record calls and to dial in with VOIP phones.
There’s no substitute for face-to-face conversations in business. However, when you can’t get there, video calling is the next best thing. Here are some free tools you should have in your arsenal.
Microsoft’s Skype is the number one for video calling. You’ll need a decent broadband connection so you don’t suffer dropouts, but if you do, Skype offers one-to-one and conference video calling for up to 25 people.
If both parties own Apple devices, FaceTime is an in-built video chat app that works well and, once set up, is reliable.
It’s probably not beyond the means of most of us when setting up a business, but if it is, it’s possible to acquire office furniture for free. If friends or relatives don’t have furniture lying around you can have, there are places online you can go to get kitted out for free.
Freecycle is an extensive international giving-network where people advertise anything they’re looking to get rid of for free. You’d be surprised what you can get there and all you have to do is respond quickly and be prepared to pick it up. Visit their homepage then enter your location and that’ll direct you to your local group where you can see what’s being offered (and join).
It’s also worth watching Gumtree and Craigs List. Both these sites display classified sites where bargains can be found on office gear. Both have apps available too and will recognise your location to show you only local offers.
Messaging apps have been one of the business mainstays for over a decade. Where Microsoft Messenger/MSN once ruled, there are now heaps of alternatives offering basic chat as well as collaboration tools to share screens, desktops and audio/data/video.
Skype is one of the most common chat, peer-to-peer VOIP telephony and video calling tools. It works on almost every platform and is broadly free to use, but charges for network calls to landlines and mobiles.
For a platform that organises messaging feeds as well as offers file sharing and group chat, HipChat also works on all popular platforms and devices. The $2 p/m paid version adds video chat and screen-sharing.
Forms are incredibly useful tools to store and gather information. The ability to build an online form then share or distribute it to your target audience can be very powerful, especially in these days of social media marketing.
Here are some websites which offer free versions.
Wufoo offers a range of templates and reports. Their free version allows 3 forms, 10 fields and 500 entries per month.
This page covers free software that’ll help you get organised and work more effectively. These have all been recommended as very useful by business people who use them as core components of their working days.
Zapier is an interesting service that allows you to get apps to talk to each other, helping you automate some time consuming processes such as data-input. The free version allows 100 tasks per month and five connections.
Evernote is a way to store notes, website cuttings, voice recordings and pictures, tag them with metadata and make them accessible to all your devices. The individual version is free, the team collaboration version has a small monthly charge.