Anand Srinivasan
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How To Plan Your Small Business Growth With Free Tools

Anand Srinivasan

February 06, 2019

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Starting your own small business can be incredibly challenging. In addition to setting up your business operations, you also need to market your product or service, find clients and support them. If this were not enough, a small business owner is also expected to take care of funding, accounting and payroll for employees.


One way to get all of this done is through outsourcing. But outsourcing costs money and is not really affordable to a number of businesses in their first few months or years of operation. Fortunately, there are a lot of free tools that can make your life easy without costing a dime. Let’s take a look at these resources and how a small business owner can benefit off them.


Customer Relationship Management


CRM is a big part of any business. Targeting the right prospects, drafting the right outreach strategy, timing your communication and engaging your prospects till they can be converted into a lead (and eventually into a customer) is critical to the success of any business.


Although popular CRM tools like Salesforce have plans targeted at small businesses, they still cost money. If you are a bootstrapped business owner looking to save on expenses, you may check out one of these several free CRM tools. To be clear, these tools are not completely free. Instead, they have a free tier with the most basic functionalities that startup businesses would need in their early days. When your business grows, you may need more advanced features that can then be accessed by upgrading to a paid plan.


Inventory Management


Managing your inventory is not just about keeping track of what is in stock and what needs to be reordered from your supplier? Holding inventory costs money, and so is not holding them when your customers need it. The Japanese manufacturing concept of ‘Just-in-Time’ can be applied to inventory management as well with the objective being to forecast your demand accurately in order to be able to service your orders on time.


Sophisticated inventory management tools often cost several hundred dollars each month. Fortunately though, a lot of such management can be done with spreadsheet tools like MS Excel that is native to your operating system. Such spreadsheets can be customized to manage your supply chain nearly as accurately as paid tools. This website has a few free templates you could try to get started on inventory management straight away.


Human Resources Management


Human resource management is one of the many functions that business owners tend to take on themselves in the early days. This is because it’s a cost center and does not directly contribute to business revenues. But handling HRM can be tricky if you are not a trained human resources professional. There are however a number of free online resources that can help business owners get up to speed with various responsibilities of an HR manager. You may check out these free guides for information on how to set up a mentorship program, build people strategies or developing better EQ.




Running the daily operations of a business can be quite stressful. This is especially true if you are managing multiple projects at the same time. Project management tools like Basecamp and Wrike make it easier to not only organize your various tasks, but also easily collaborate with your team (or with external service providers).


There are however free alternatives that make project management simple and affordable to small businesses. Hubbion is a suite of free apps for businesses and includes a free project management tool that allows business owners to create an unlimited number of projects and collaborate with an unlimited number of team members and other service providers. This saves your business several hundred dollars in expenses each month and is thus incredibly useful.


Over to you - what other aspects of business management do you think needs free alternatives for a bootstrapped business owner? Share your thoughts and solutions in the comments.


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