15 Free Small Business Systems and Tools You’ll Need in 2021
Find the right tools for your business to increase efficiency, productivity, and customer engagement without impacting your budget.
Jan 14, 2021
7 min read
Jan 14, 2021
7 min read
Not sure about you but we’re ready to start this new year with a bang. But as much as we’d like to be rid of anything that has to do with 2020, we’re still dealing with a pandemic. Luckily, there are many free or affordable systems, tools, and resources available for small business owners to continue navigating this new normal.
Below is a roundup of some essential tools you should consider for 2021 and beyond. Whether you’re looking to optimize your website, keep your team in sync while they work from home, or automate your client communications, you’re sure to find the right tool in this list to help streamline your business processes.
If you haven’t already, optimizing your website and online listings is a must this year. This can be done by continually adding fresh content featuring your past client work, making sure your hours of operation and contact information is accurate, responding to reviews and questions, and periodically checking for any broken links on your site. Here are a few must-have systems and tools to use or update this year:
Taking professional photos can be expensive, however, it’s important to have clear and bright images throughout your site to provide a good user experience for your customers. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to find free images for your website—and Freestock is one of them.
Check out their website to find free images, icons, and video to make your site engaging and professional.
Nobody likes a broken link—especially a customer. LinkMiner is a free tool and Google Chrome extension you can use to scan any website for broken links. Periodically scan your site to make sure your customers can browse and click through any links without running into the dreaded “404 page not found” page.
GoSite's Local Listing Report
There are tons of online local listings out there for small businesses including Google Maps, Yelp, Facebook, the Chamber of Commerce, and even Uber. We know checking and updating each one can be tedious but using GoSite makes it easier to find the listings your business is missing or that need to be updated.
Simply enter your business name and address on their Local Listing Report tool and it’ll scan over a dozen directories for you. Once the scan is complete, you’ll have an overall online presence score—based on listings you’re missing or need updating—and a list of all local online directories you can add your business to.
Google My Business
Last but not least, every business should have an up-to-date Google My Business account. Creating an account is free and in addition to helping you show up on search results, it allows you to communicate with your customers, show-off your client work, provide any business updates, and house customer reviews.
Whether your team is working completely from home or social distancing in the office or an on-site work location, having the right tools to communicate with each other will help ensure nothing slips through the cracks. Here are some of our favorite team collaboration software that offer a free account option.
Slack offers efficient team communication that businesses of any size can benefit from. In addition to instant messages, Slack offers file-sharing, audio calls, message search, and fun features or integrations like emojis, GIFs, and polls. You can integrate your account with Google Calendar to keep you and your team on-task. Slack also has a mobile app that you can download and use on-the-go
When it comes to sharing files and collaborating on projects, Google is both user-friendly and robust. Google Workspace, formerly known as G Suite, includes Gmail, Calendar, Meet, Chat, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, and more. The files are automatically updated and saved in real-time in your Google Drive so everyone will always be on the same page.
Google built Workspace to serve as a total range of functionality and productivity for businesses. It also consolidates all of your files one spot and because of its universality, it integrates seamlessly with many tools.
Zoom has always been a good option to stay connected with employees and customers when you’re unable to meet in person—and the pandemic made it a critical tool for many businesses last year. Since the duration of COVID-19 is still TBD, you may want to consider optimizing your use of Zoom.
In addition to using Zoom for company meetings and client communication, try hosting webinars or online events with OnZoom to help build community and expand your reach.
Marketing and Social Media
As a small business owner, you may not have a lot of time on your hands to dedicate to social media and marketing. However, both of these are essential to the growth and success of any business. Here are some free tools you can use to help automate time-consuming promotional tasks, help you make data-driven decisions, and improve your marketing efforts.
For a simple social media scheduling tool, Hootsuite’s basic free plan will provide what you need. With your free account you’ll be able to schedule up to 30 posts per month, manage a maximum of three accounts, and integrate other popular small business apps like Google My Business, Canva, and Shopview for Shopify.
Contact Hub by GoSite
If you’re looking to boost customer engagement and nurture both new and existing relationships without adding to your workload, GoSite’s Contact Hub is a great solution. This free yet powerful CRM tool offers one-click, automated messaging, a centralized hub to store customer data, and integrations with other tools like Gmail, Outlook, and Quickbooks to streamline your client communications.
Even if you’re not a marketing expert, you may already have heard the term, “Google is king.” This is because over 94% of search traffic to all sites comes from Google and accounts for 38% of total digital ad revenue. This puts pressure on many businesses to optimize their website and listings to rank on the first page of Google for their products and services.
With that said, one of the best free tools to use to help you rank on Google, is Google itself. Google Analytics will help you track every bit of traffic to your site, show you recommended keywords to target, understand the performance of your digital ads and campaigns, and more.
Research shows that nearly 75% of consumers judge a business’s credibility based on their website design—in other words, you need good-looking visual assets for your digital channels. Unsurprisingly, web and graphic design can be expensive, but with user-friendly design tools like Canva, you and your team can create beautiful ads, web banners, social media posts, and print collateral without breaking the bank.
Payment Processing and Accounting
In 2021, you’ll want to make client communication and getting paid as hassle-free as possible—to help both you and your customers. Below are some of our favorite free payment tools.
Payments by GoSite
Opening a free account with GoSite gives you the ability to offer online, mobile, and SMS payment options as well as send instant invoices, and process 24-hour deposits. With Payments, all of your service offerings, transactions, and pending payment requests are saved in an easy-to-navigate platform and best of all, there are no platform fees.
For an easy-to-use accounting tool to keep your bookkeeping simple and balanced, Wave is a great option. Their free account allows you to track tax on income and expenses, keep reports on profits, losses, and cashflow, and generate financial statements.
HR and Business Growth
Hiring the right people is difficult and time-consuming, but with the right software and support, you can simplify this process and find employees that will mesh well with your current team.
Zoho Recruit and People
Zoho offers two features to help hiring, onboarding, and work culture management a breeze. A free account with Zoho People offers employee self-service, as well as employee onboarding, employee database, HR files, time-off, and workflow management tools.
Zoho Recruit on the other hand, is great for when you’re looking to hire temporary employees to help during a busy season. Although not free, $1 per month for their Temporary Staffing account is affordable and will help you find quick, reliable labor on-the-go.
One of our favorite tools to generate growth is Thumbtack. Although you do pay for any leads generated through Thumbtack, creating an account to list your business and services is free. It’s a great way to see what’s in demand in your area, compare pricing for the services you offer, and find local support and labor.
Whether you own a landscaping business, a hair salon, plumbing service, roofing company, or any other small business, you can quickly and easily set up any of these tools to start managing and improving your operations today.
And for an all-in-one platform to run, promote, and optimize your business? Give GoSite a try!