mBox Blog

As an SME owner, you might be thinking you can’t afford much in the way of business services and tools. But there are many low-cost or even free options that can help you to run your business more efficiently.

These include solutions for marketing, finances and day-to-day processes, advisory services from seasoned experts, and services to assist you in promoting your business. Here is a list of 16 affordable services and tools that you may find useful in running your enterprise.

Advisory services

  1. Small Biz Connect – a service provided by the NSW Small Business Commissioner.
    Cost: Free service.
    Purpose: Services include expert advice for small business management, one-on-one support, and links to other business support services. Similar services are also available in other states.
  2. Australian Small Business Commissioner legal service for disputes.
    Cost: Free or subsidised initial advice.
    Purpose: A service to assist you in understanding and resolving business disputes. Costs may be involved if you are referred to a private lawyer.

Online marketing services

  1. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
    Cost: Various, depending on service. Some will offer free website assessments to get you started.
    Purpose: Service to optimise your website for search engines so that it is more visible and easy for people to find online.
  2. Content Marketing.
    Cost: Various, depending on service.
    Purpose: To write quality content for your website, blog, and social media channels. Quality content works in with good SEO to make your website more visible and marketable online. Getting expert help in this area can be more affordable than you might think. Look out for services that offer monthly package deals.
  3. Mail Chimp.
    Cost: Free for basic option or paid from $10 per month.
    Purpose: Good program for sending out customised marketing emails and newsletters. Includes segmentation and targeting options.

Cloud software programs and tools

  1. Sage One Online Accounting.
    Cost: Starts at $15 per month.
    Purpose: Cloud accounting software for micro and small businesses that includes payroll and bank integration. Cost includes upgrades.
  2. Office 365 for Business.
    Cost: Starts at around $8 per user per month.
    Purpose: Provides an online suite of Microsoft programs including Word, Excel, Publisher, Outlook and PowerPoint.
  3. Google My Business.
    Cost: Free.
    Purpose: To make your business more visible on Google. Also provides some great tracking and analytical tools.
  4. Survey Monkey.
    Cost: Free for basic option or paid from $19 per month.
    Purpose: For conducting and tracking customised surveys (e.g. for use in market research).
  5. Virtual fax services.
    Cost: Varied.
    Purpose: Online faxing services that enable you to send and receive faxes online, saving on the cost of hardware and fax supplies, and providing greater speed, efficiency and security. Example: mBox – free for 30 days then prices start at $9.95 per month.
  6. Box program.
    Cost: Starts at $6 per month for 2GB storage.
    Purpose: Online data storage and secure file sharing software.
  7. Google Docs.
    Cost: Free.
    Purpose: Easy-to-use program that can be used to create and share documents for collaborative editing.

Social media

Social media can be described as the ultimate free / low cost marketing tool. Billions of people use social media every day and most platforms have free options, although they may charge a fee for upgrades or premium accounts. Social media can be used to increase brand awareness, connect with customers in a more personal way, generate leads, promote special deals, link to your website, and so on. Examples include:

  1. Facebook. 
    Cost: Free for basic. With Facebook for Business you can set your own marketing budget.
  2. Google Plus.
    Cost: Free for basic account including Google Plus Brands business platform. With paid options such as Google AdWords, you set your own budget.
  3. LinkedIn.
    Cost: Free for basic module. Premium module is free for one month then prices start at $90 per month. LinkedIn has been designed specifically for professionals.
  4. Hootesuite.
    Cost: Starts at $11 per month.
    Purpose: Not a social media platform but a program for management and analysis of all your social media accounts.

This list is only a sample of the services and tools available for small businesses. There are many free and low-cost tools that are well worth considering to help make the running of your business easier.

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