10 Free Tools That SMBs Can Use To Overcome Challenges In 2016

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Photo Credit: iStock.com/Artist’s Wavebreakmedia

2016 is a pivotal year for businesses in the U.S. as it’s an election year. Depending on who takes over the Oval office, we might see changes in policies and regulations that may impact small businesses like yours positively and negatively. A study by accountants Deloitte recently revealed that CFOs fear changes in job, market and fiscal policies after the election.

But there is no point in fretting over whether the winds of election year turn in your favor or not. At times like these, it is essential that you address problems that your business faces at the moment. And chances are that there are many. From adapting to new technologies to recruiting new staff and all the way to making sure that everyone is punctual, small business owners have a lot of priorities to address.

As mistakes can kill your startup, you need to tackle challenges head on. And if your business is still in its infancy, you need tools that can help you address these problems for free. Fortunately, there are tons of free tools that can help a business like yours manage, market and socialize.

Let’s look at ten of the challenges that SMBs are expected to face this year and the tools that can help them be more productive.

1. NotifyVisitors – Best Email Marketing Software with user-friendly features

NotifyVisitors is an email marketing tool that makes email communication with customers stress-free and simple. It helps generate vast amounts of customer engagement, allowing businesses to reach out to their target markets more effectively.


With its customizable email templates, easy drag-and-drop editing, metrics tracking, and split testing features, NotifyVisitors offers the opportunity for businesses to make sure that their email campaigns get maximum exposure and generate positive results.

Furthermore, customers will appreciate being able to receive messages tailored precisely to their profile and interests thanks to NotifyVisitors’ segmentation capabilities. Thanks to its inexpensive price point compared to other email marketing solutions on the market, businesses of any size can reap the benefits of using NotifyVisitors.

2. Evernote – For Effectively Managing Business Tasks

According to Tobias Wilhelm of Tobias Wilhelm Consulting, “Speed is becoming the biggest challenge in business.” In other words, running a business means processing a lot of tasks at once and not having enough time to do them.


You can take care of a lot of tasks at once if you prioritize them. And since you can’t carry a writing pad around all day, you need a tool that allows you to do it. What you need is Evernote, a software that you can download on your smartphone for free. So, why Evernote? The software can help you organize any ideas or thoughts that come up during the entire workday. In addition, it can help you save any webpage that you might need later, prioritize daily business tasks on a to-do list, and store all of your documents in one place.

What’s great about Evernote is that it automatically syncs your notes on your phone and computer. You can sign up for their basic plan here.

3. Hiveage – For Avoiding Delayed Payments

Delayed billing is a harsh reality for most small businesses. Unfortunately, if you don’t invoice your customers on time, how are you going to get paid?


Keeping track of your finances with timely invoices ensures that you maintain control over the financial aspects of your business. Hiveage can help you streamline your invoices. This is a web based software that is specifically designed for small business owners. Its packages include a basic plan that allows you to create invoices and send it to an unlimited number of clients for free.

Sign up for its free service here.

4. Score – For Managing Cash Flow

Invoicing also aids in cash flow management. However, managing cash flow on a weekly basis isn’t an issue for a small business. The main challenge lies in monitoring it as the business grows every year.


If your business can’t afford a pricy management tool to manage your financial statements, you can use free templates from SCORE. This is a nonprofit that offers mentorship for small businesses. If you fill in information such as client details, your business expenses and sales, the tool can help you learn a lot about where your money is going.

The tool has a few free Excel templates that can help you track everything from profit and loss projections to annual cash flow. You can sign up with your email address here.

5. MailChimp – For Setting And Managing Email Marketing Campaigns

A lot of small businesses rely on email marketing software to engage their customers and spread the word about their brands. They also know that they must send several emails a day to make their campaigns work in their favor. However, sending and managing them becomes a problem for small business owners who are short on time and cash.


You can solve this problem with MailChimp. This is an email marketing tools that enables users to create, schedule and automate their campaigns online. What’s great about this tool is that it provides stunning email templates that you can use to beautify your campaign.

MailChimp’s “Forever Free Plan” enables users to send over 12,000 emails every month to over 2000 subscribers. Sign up for it here.

6. Dropbox – For Sharing, Storing And Managing Company Files

Despite its size, a small business needs to manage hundreds of media files and other documents at a time. As the owner of this business, you probably require employees to share documents among each other. This can become difficult if you need to manage hundreds of files at a time.


You and your staff can easily store and access files via Dropbox. This is a cloud based platform that runs on a Freemium model, allowing users to get up to 2GB of free online storage for life. In addition to offering some of the features offered by the Pro version, the software integrates pretty well into any workflow and allows to you to sync your files across all major platforms.

You can sign up for the free plan here.

7. Skype – For Making Free International Calls

International calls may not necessarily be part of your business operations. But if your business needs to interact with partners, employees or customers across borders, it becomes a necessary expense. Or does it?


Why pay for international calls when Skype allows you to do it for free? This is a video conferencing solution that is free for download. And one of the best parts about it is that it allows you to message, call and video call other Skype users without asking you to pay for them.

Skype can be synced across all devices that support it. Download it for desktop here.

8. SBA -For Creating Marketing Plans

A marketing plan serves as a road map that guides you to achieve milestones such as business targets. However, a plan is useless if it isn’t well thought out. Considering the importance of a marketing plan for a small business, you need to focus on this aspect and give it sufficient time.


Enter the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). This website enables users to make business plans on premade templates with instructions on what to include in each section. Once you complete your template, you can generate your business plan and save it as a Word document on your desktop.

And the best part is that it’s free to use. All you have to do is sign up for it.

9. Zoho People – For Preventing Employee Tardiness

Even a business that has no more than five employees can suffer if any of them has a habit of skipping work or coming in late. Employee tardiness can impact your business adversely. Even if one of your employees has a habit of being late, it might cause the rest of your staff to follow suit. And your business might suffer because of it.

Zoho People

Like most of the tools in this list, Zoho People is also based on a Freemium business model. If your business is limited to five employees at the moment, you can use the free version to track their attendance. The platform offers an edition that is free for the first 10 users. You can sign up for it here.

10. Comodo – For Ensuring Data Security

Data theft is a reality for most businesses no matter what the scale. Small businesses often use networks to share data. And everything from employee error to using networks in public wireless hotspots might compromise it.


You can secure your online security with Comodo. This is a complete malware and virus removal system that can protect the systems in your network from spyware, bots and viruses before they can infect them. The software is both cloud based and local. And the best part is that it is available for free. You can download it from here.

11. Zoho – For Managing Customer Relations

Small businesses need to adopt strategies that are capable of adapting to increasing customer expectations. However, managing aspects like customer support and sales becomes a challenge if they are done separately.

Zoho CRM

What SMBs need is a platform that can help them manage these priorities and enhance sales. Enter Zoho CRM. This is a Freemium CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool that helps them through a single platform. Zoho CRM’s free edition offers these features and a lot more. You can download it for free here.

These are the top 10 challenges SMBs face or will face this year. Luckily, you can tackle them early on using these free tools. So, start downloading or signing up for them right away.

About The Author

Kelvin Stiles is a tech enthusiast and works as a marketing consultant at SurveyCrest – FREE online survey software and publishing tools for academic and business use. He is also an avid blogger and a comic book fanatic.