We all want to use the best tools available. We also want to save money. Sometimes you can do both.
While just a list to start from, here are some lower cost and sometimes easier to use alternatives for some programs and services:
|High Cost||Lower Cost Alternative|
|Microsoft Office||LibreOffice, Open Office and Google Docs|
|Desk Top Computers||Remote Desktops|
|Phone Systems and Receptionists||Internet Based Relay Services|
Let's start with the Microsoft Office Suit. For most users this includes Excel, Word and Powerpoint. A small fraction of Microsoft Office users need Microsoft's database application, Microsoft Access.
LibreOffice and Open Office are free alternatives with the full Microsoft suit of applications. Google Docs has applications mirroring Microsoft Excel, Word and Powerpoint, but there is no database application in Google Docs.
Google Docs also has all the advantages of Microsoft's "Sharepoint" servers that allow users to collaborate on documents in real time. You do need to make sure you understand how to secure your documents so only the people you want to see can open and shared documents.
As a very advanced user, I can tell you that virtually anything users want to do in Microsoft's Excel, Word, Powerpoint and Access applications can be replicated in LibreOffice and Open Office.
Salesforce is a powerful tool. It is hard to compete with many of the advanced functions with lower cost software, but I use Zoho CRM for my business. Zoho allows me to perform all my key functions including integration with Microsoft Outlook. I can add and track contacts and leads. I can mount email campaigns and track whether or not my emails are being opened. The best part is that Zoho CRM costs a fraction of the cost of Salesforce.
Quickbooks from Intuit is a great program. It has local and internet versions scaling from small to enterprise versions. It is not cheap and it has a learning curve.
Zoho Books costs a fraction of Quickbooks. Zoho Books is internet based software with most of the same capabilities including:
- Connects directly to your bank account.
- Creates financial reports.
- Exports reports into other programs.
- Creates Invoices.
Carrying a laptop computer with all your data on it leaves you open to loss of data and laptops must reduce power or overheat on applications requiring a lot of computing power. Many of us have a more powerful desk top computer with three big issues. First, if you don't back the computer up enough, when it inevitably crashes, you lose all data not backed up. Next, when you are away from your office, you can't access your desktop computer. Finally, it is really expensive and time consuming buying desktop computers for yourself or your employees. So stop buying them. Instead you can lease "remote workstations form companies like Amazon. You and your employees can access your workstations from anywhere in the world. They never break down and upgrades are a matter of updating your license,