Free Small Business Software to Help Accomplish The Basics

There are a few tasks common to most small businesses. While there are many proprietary, and often expensive, applications to get these things done, there is also lots of free software for small business as well.

May 22, 2012

What's Important?

Communication is very important in small business.  Sales won't happen without it.  Intelligent purchasing won't either.  Small business software ought to help achieve that end.

So what do you need to communicate?  Well, you need a file format everyone can read, and you need a way to get it to the people who need it.

File Format

How about Microsoft Word and Outlook?  Isn't that what everyone else uses?  No.  Unfortunately though, a sizable portion of the small business community is currently trapped in this mindset.  Not everyone has the latest version, and so they can't read MS's brilliant (I'm being very sarcastic with that adjective) new docx format.  How about pdf?  EVERYONE can read pdf files, right?  I believe so.  If they own a computer, chances are they've got a pdf reader.  If they don't, and before you have them download Adobe's reader, send them to my You Can View PDF Without Adobe article where they'll find some open source readers that tend to be faster than Acrobat.

How do you make a pdf for someone to read?  Well, one way is to grab OpenOffice or LibreOffice and use the Export to PDF button that comes by default in the main toolbar.  It's wicked easy, about like saving a file.

Another method is to get something that makes pdf files regardless of which program you're running.  PDF Forge has such an app, called PDF Creator.  Instead of sending a document off to a printer, you choose PDF Creator instead (from the list in the print dialog window) and get prompted for a file name to save with.



Now that you've got the file ready (and hopefully it only took a minute or two), how do you get it to who needs it?  Email works.  And what do you use for email?  Not Outlook…  Grab Thunderbird instead.  I won't go into the gory details here (because I've already written about and recommended Thunderbird all over my site) but you can find Mozilla Thunderbird here and install it to your heart's content; it really is the best app I've used for email.


That's it.  You grab an app that can turn anything you do (well, aside from multimedia types of things) into a format anyone can read, and grab another app that will get it into their hands.

Let me know how you make out.

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