Affordable Business Tools for Entrepreneurs on a BudgetBy
When you’re running a business from home, every little bit you save helps. The average business costs about $30,000 to start up, the Kauffmann Foundation reports. If you work from home, you may be able to trim this down to under $3,000, the Small Business Association says. When you add on operating expenses, you may be looking at another $250 a month, equivalent to another $3,000 a year, entrepreneur Purna Duggirala estimates. Fortunately, you can cut your expenses by strategically employing today’s business technology. Here are five technological tools you can use to lower your business expenses.
Virtual Office Services
In 2015, the average annual cost of renting office space for a single employee ranged from $4,194 in Atlanta to $14,800 in New York City, according to The Square Foot. To trim office rental expenses, one cost-efficient alternative is using virtual office services. A virtual office provides you with a business mailing address where you can receive mail and have it forwarded to you without having to rent actual office space. Some virtual office packages include professional phone answering services, voicemail, virtual assistant services and even meeting space you can pay to use on a per-meeting basis. Today’s top virtual office providers charge around $100 per month for a mailing address and $220 per month for both a mailing address and answering service.
Office Communication Tools
Even if you rent an answering service, you will probably want to have your own business line for outgoing calls, and you will definitely need a business email. A New York City business using five phone lines a month from a traditional provider can expect to pay a $385 setup fee plus another $467.20 a month in taxes and fees, estimates Fit Small Business. This can be cut to $232.92 a month by using a phone service based on Voice over IP (VoIP) technology. If you only need one line, you can get a VoIP line for as little as $30 to $60 a month, including free long distance and advanced phone management features.
For enterprise-quality email services, Rackspace estimates that the average cost of a traditional on-premises Microsoft Exchange email deployment runs around $585 per year per user. By going with a hosted email service that provides an email address with a domain customized for your business, you can cut this down to as little as $2.00 to $12.95 per user per month, Comentum estimates.
Office Productivity Tools
Every small business needs an office productivity suite. Microsoft Office has long been the most popular small business solution in this area. The home edition of Microsoft Office 365 currently costs $9.99 a month or $99 per year. A number of freeware alternatives to Microsoft Office are available, such as Apache OpenOffice and Google Docs. If you want the business edition of Google Docs, prices currently run at $5 per month per user, including features such as email branded with your domain name and online storage space.
Backup Storage Tools
Data, such as your financial records and customer mailing list, is vital to your business, making reliable backup essential. Backing up enterprise data using traditional on-premises equipment can run as high as $60,000 for 4 TB of storage, estimates tom’s IT Pro. If you use a cloud-based data service such as Mozy, you can start with 10 GB for as little as $109.89 a year or $9.99 a month.
Web Design Tools
Today’s small business needs a website. Traditionally, many web designers have used Adobe Dreamweaver, which currently costs $19.99 a month if you use it as an individual app or $49.99 a month if you use it with Adobe’s Creative Cloud. Plus you’ll need to have web design skills, unless you plan to hire a designer, which is considerably more expensive. More recent online web design tools geared toward non-designers have cut design software fees down, while also making it easy for anyone to build a website, even if they don’t know web design.