Top 5 Free Small Biz Applications

Starting a new business can be quite costly. Here are  5 free small biz applications that we recommend you use when starting out. They are all very user-friendly and can be upgraded to provide more advanced options once you have more income to invest.

Hubspot CRM

If you are looking for a free Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) then Hubspot is great. It links up to your Gmail so that you can create a new contact, opportunity or task directly from your Gmail account.

You can attach important emails to your contact so that the information is kept in one place, set custom fields that allow you to categorize each contact and receive email reminders when tasks are due.

The CRM has a free version with opportunities to upgrade as you expand. The free version allows you to store unlimited contacts and can be accessed by multiple users. For an additional  $50 per user per month, you can upgrade your account to sales pro which offers access to automation and templates.

Gmail

There are a lot of free email accounts available or options to set up accounts with your web hosting. What we love about Gmail is the fact that it is designed to sync with so many different applications that can make your business life easier with integrations such as Boomerang for Gmail an app that allows you to schedule emails.

In addition, it gives you access to an online Calendar and Google Drive, which is a great tool that allows you to create and share documents with ease.

For businesses like ours that receive secure information and need additional storage, you can upgrade to Google Apps which is a version of Gmail developed specifically for businesses, for $5 per month.

This option gives you a professional email address, better email security, 24 hour support and 30GB of storage.

WordPress.Org

This is a great program that you can use to build your website. Most website hosts now have one click install buttons for WordPress build into their host panel, making website creation very easy.

If you get your site designed by a developer that customizes WordPress templates it means that in the future when you wish to make changes you don’t need to contact your original developer. Anyone proficient in WordPress should be able to help you.

If your budget is to low to hire a developer you can easily learn to customize a template yourself. Templates range in price from free to a few hundred dollars.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free service offered by Google that helps you track your website traffic. Once you have signed up and added your personalized key to your website you can begin generating reports that give you detailed insights into your audience, their behaviors, and how they were acquired.

You can customize your reports, set conversion goals and link your analytics to your Google Adwords.

Google Analytics is the key to finding out if your website is attracting the kind of clients that you are looking for and to determine if your online marketing efforts are working.

Hootsuite 

Hootsuite is a great application that helps small business owners manage their social media.  The free version allows you to manage and schedule updates for up to three social media platforms.

You can upgrade to Hootsuite Pro for $9.99/month. The upgrade allows you to manage 50 profiles and have access to detailed reports.

 

There is a lot of awesome software out there that can really help small businesses. These are just 5 that have really helped us.

 

 

 

How yoga can help your business

We spoke to social entrepreneur, public relations extraordinaire and yoga instructor Mercedes Grant about how daily yoga can help small business owners.

Mercedes Grant YogaHow yoga can help your business

On any given day, I can be found cycling between my shared abode, my “office” (Gene Café, where the best coffee, and employees, can be found, in Vancouver), the by-donation studio where I share my yoga practice every Wednesday and Friday (Karma Teachers) and the ocean…with a fair amount of mischief in between.

Working for my self allows luxuries that the ol’ 9-5’ers aren’t privy to. But it isn’t all fun and games or lattes and ocean dips. Case in point: I’m currently sitting in bed, writing this blog, at 11:00pm.

Being an entrepreneur has its inherent freedoms, yes, but there are definitely challenges, including but not limited to: sleep deprivation, crazy schedules, financial worries, bad coffee, no Wi-Fi, the all too familiar inability to “shut-off” from work tasks leading ultimately, to burn-out.

Anyone who has worked for themselves at some point will agree to all of the above symptoms of self-employment.

So how do we find a way to stay sane, efficient and employable?

My answer is YOGA.

How yoga can help

Yoga has been scientifically proven to effectively reduce stress. It does this by activating the parasympathetic nervous system (the one responsible for mellowing you out), which leads to better sleep, improved focus, more meaningful connections, less stress and anxiety and overall, a healthier existence.

There are definitely other practices you can employ and habits you can adopt, but yoga has it all; breathing, meditation and postures. A well-rounded practice, and one that yields the most effective results, includes all three techniques.

How it helped me

At the end of last year, after working a ludicrous amount of hours over a number of months, I became overwhelmed by stress. This is when I reunited myself with yoga.

I’ve been practicing yoga on and off for just over a decade now, always coming back to it when life gets a little mad. When I burnt out last year I knew I had to change my behaviors and my focus. This inspired me to join Karma Teachers 200 hour yoga teacher training

Now I’m not saying you need to take these extreme measures. Regular practice in a class, at a comfortable studio, your home space, outside, anywhere really, will deliver the same results.

Practicing yoga, whether in class or sharing it with others, continues to positively impact my life and my work, in all sorts of magical ways.

My sleep schedule has returned to something resembling normality, my anxiety has lessened, my relationships with others have improved, a smile has returned to my face and the people around me are taking an interest in yoga too. It’s an “escalator effect” (a term lovingly coined by the goddess, Kim Anami) of positive results.

Need more evidence? Join any one of the FREE-and-BY-DONATION yoga classes happening seven days a week at Karma Teachers in Vancouver’s DTES.

Homeroom Client of the Month: Shanti Yoga

This month’s client of the month is Chantal O’Sullivan from Shanti Yoga Tsawwassen.

Over the last four years Shanti Yoga has helped spread the message that “yoga is for everyone” throughout the area of Tsawwassen .

Having recently doubled in size to accommodate their growing community, Shanti Yoga offers a variety of classes including; Hatha, Power, Flow, Yin Yoga & Shanti Sweat. They also offer a variety of yoga clothing created by unique designers. 

We asked Chantal a few questions about her business, and here’s what we learned

How many years have you been in business? 

Four years.

What do you enjoy the most about being a business owner?

That’s a tough one. It’s a lot of work, but I really enjoy it. I love teaching yoga, connecting people and seeing the kula, or Some of our Shanti Yoga teachers celebrating our beautiful community; L to R: Owner Chantal O'Sullivan, Cam Lee, Kaylen Jolly, Natasha Yule, Jodi Butchart, Dal Sumal, Oksana Yatsenko and Majessa Castonguay; photo by Daniel O'Sullivan, Centennial Beachcommunity grow.

What motivated you to start your own business?

I saw an opportunity and I jumped in. You know that saying? Leap and the net will appear? I really believe in that, especially if you have a big passion for something.

What advice do you have for other people who would like to start their own business?

Do lots of research before you take the plunge, be certain that you love, love, love what you’re doing & make sure you have a good support network. Friends and family, a partner who you can trust, make a huge difference.

I run my business along with my husband, who is all around amazing. And that’s an understatement. I’m also conscious that I can’t do everything, so I try to continually empower people to take charge and to lead.

How do you achieve a work life balance? Sometimes I do and s
ometimes I don’t. I’m always working on that. Like yoga, it’s a practice, not a perfect. But one thing that really helps: I try not to check my email after 7 p.m. (Notice I said “try”….hehehe)

And finally who could benefit from your services?

Everyone, really, every body. If you can breath, you can do yoga.  Yoga can help you to breath better, to exhale, to let go and to smile more.

Connect with Shanti Yoga Commercial Drive on Facebook and Twitter 

 

If you would like to be featured as our client of the month please let us know by contacting us.