Business, design and marketing software can be expensive; and while I agree that professional software should be considered an investment toward helping you achieve a healthy return, I also believe in operating a smart business. Small businesses, sole proprietors, entrepreneurs, and startups can all benefit from free, yet powerful, software alternatives that help them save thousands of dollars without compromising quality or productivity.
Think of it this way: A professional graphic designer should purchase Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop; but an entrepreneur who just needs a little bit of image editing here and there – that is, a person whose trade isn’t design – need not make such a hefty investment in those programs. For the frugal small business, I present 10 free alternatives to expensive business, design and marketing software. You’ll easily save thousands of dollars by taking advantage of these free alternatives.
1. Meeting and Collaboration
Campfire is an excellent professional tool, but its lowest-priced plan will cost you $144 annually. You can have many of the same meeting and collaboration features with Vyew, available for free.
Campfire annual cost: $144/year
Freshbooks is the most-heralded online invoicing service, but it will set you back, at minimum, $19.95 per month, or about $240 annually. Invoiceable is free, though it does include links on its invoices.
Freshbooks annual cost: $240
3. Project Management
MS Project is one of the most popular project management software tools available, but it will set you back about $850. 2-Plan is free, and mimics many of MS Project’s features.
MS Project: $850
4. Mind Mapping
Mind Genius is a well-known and efficient mind mapping software, but it costs $235. Free Mind is, well, free.
Mind Genius: $235
Free Mind: Free
5. Office Suite
Microsoft Office is the most popular office suite software in the world, but Open Office does nearly everything Microsoft Office does, and for free. This is especially important if you need an office suite on multiple computers.
MS Office Home and Business: $280, two PCs
Open Office: Free, unlimited PCs
Quickbooks is the industry standard for accounting software, but GNUCash can perform many of the same basic small business functions for free.
Quickbooks Essentials: $27/month, or $324 annually
GNU Cash: Free
Savings: $325 annually
Salesforce is the leader in CRM applications, but their group plan costs $25 per month. Free CRM has most basic CRM features, absolutely free (there is a Pro version that costs money, but it is not needed for most start-ups).
Salesforce: $300/year (Group plan)
Free CRM: Free (free version)
8. Image Editor
Photoshop is hands-down the tool most professional photographers and designers use for image editing, but the hobbyist and casual business user will find everything they need from Gimpshop.
9. Vector Graphics
Like Photoshop, Illustrator is the No. 1 choice among professional designers; but you can get by handsomely with the free InkScape.
10. 3D Modeling
3D Studio Max has long been a favorite among professional 3-D modelers, but you can bring your concepts to live with Blender, a free 3-D modeling software.
3D Studio Max: $3,675
Author Bio:- Brian Morris writes for the PsPrint Design & Printing Blog. PsPrint is an online commercial printing company. Follow PsPrint on Twitter @PsPrint.