The problem that many entrepreneurs face when they start up in business is that they try and do everything themselves in the belief that they won’t have enough money to start outsourcing their workload.

And yet there are many ways that entrepreneurs can keep costs down when they first set up and still have enough money to outsource those business functions that they don’t have the skills or inclination to do.

The reason you create a business is because you enjoy doing something and you want the freedom and opportunity to earn money doing it yourself.  But there are aspects of running a business that you’re either not good at or absolutely hate.  For me, it’s doing the bookkeeping – I loathe inputting my expenses and trying to tally everything up.

And I’m sure there are aspects of running a business that you loathe too.  We’re only human and there are some things we are good at and some things we’re not so hot on.  The hard part is to admit that and let someone else do the hard slog.

But how can you do that when you’re in the early days of business and don’t have a lot of cash?

Luckily there are a wide range of free or low cost tools that you can use to run your business.  This frees up some of your hard earned cash to bring in people to help you on the day to day stuff so you can focus on getting new clients and bringing in the money.

So here is a list of tools and apps to help you keep your business costs down so you can still afford to outsource.

Google Apps.  This is the main tool I use to run my business. It gives you the ability to view your emails, calendar and documents from anywhere, and share them with other team members.  It’s not free but the business version costs from around £3/month so extremely good value for what it offers.

Google Docs.  Why spend a fortune on Microsoft Office when you can get what you need with free software such as Google Docs or Open Office?  In fact if you use Google Drive then any documents you create with Google Docs come within your storage allowance.

Google Drive and Dropbox.  Work on the fly with document storage and sharing tools such as Google Drive and Dropbox.  You can access your files from anywhere as well as share them with other members of your team.

Google Hangout and Skype.  Keep travel costs down by scheduling virtual meetings online using free tools such as Skype and Google Hangout.

MailChimp.  You don’t have to spend a fortune to get your marketing off the ground. Send personalised promotional emails to your contacts using MailChimp which offers a Forever Free plan to users who have less than 2000 people on their subscriber list.

Quickfiles / Wave Accounting.  Free accounting and bookkeeping software for the non-accountant that you can use to track your expenses, manage your payroll and submit your company accounts to HMRC.

Hootsuite.  Build a tribe of followers and fans on social media using Hootsuite.  Use it to schedule updates to your social media profiles such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  You can also track mentions, retweets and keywords and start to interact with your followers so they get to know you.

Trello.  I’ve recommended Trello before (see my video 3 Online Tools to Increase Productivity).  It’s a free web-based application which you can use to manage and collaborate on your projects.  You can also download the Trello app on to your phone and iPad.

Google Keep.  Capture your thoughts, tasks and ideas quickly and easily with this free tool from Google.  You can use the web-based version or download the app on to your phone.

Echosign.  Don’t hang around waiting for contracts to be signed; make it quick and simple by getting people to sign them electronically.  You can opt for a paid version or use it for free if you connect it to your Twitter account.

Evernote.  Capture blogs, articles, inspirational ideas and thoughts and save them all in one place.  Evernote has a wide range of features which you can use to store useful information you come across as you browse the web.

Free images.  You don’t have to pay a fortune to get high quality royalty-free images for your website, blog or project.   There are many websites offering images for business and personal use which you can either use for free or pay a voluntary donation.  Here’s a selection:  Pixabay,, Pexels, Unsplash, Morguefile.

So as you can see there are a wide variety of free or low cost tools and software to get your business up and running in the early days without having to break the bank.  By saving yourself some money, you’ll have the cash to start building your virtual team to help you skyrocket your business and start bringing clients through the door.

About Valerie Eaton

Valerie is the founder and owner of Smart VA who provides virtual PA services to self-employed professionals who are feeling overwhelmed by their workload and want more time to focus on growing their business.

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