What Free Software Tools Are Available For UK Businesses?
Running a small business isn't always straightforward, and anything that makes life easier (and cheaper) is very welcome. To help both your own firm and your clients’, we’ve compiled a handy list of some of the free business software and tools that not only mean a smoother running of day-to-day operations, but that also represent excellent value going forward.
The beauty is that free software and business tools mean no expenditure on extras like IT staff and upgrades. They tend to be Cloud based too, meaning they can be accessed at any time, from any location and from any device. Perfect for use away from the office, especially in these times of working from home.
There are numerous different free solutions and tools to choose from, but here we look at some of the most popular ones.
Avast, for guarding against cyber attacks
Avast takes the worry out of cyber attacks by guarding against viruses and ransomware without charging a hefty fee. Malware detection and blocking, along with a disk rescue tool, make this an excellent choice in free software. Businesses can opt for a priced version if they wish (although this is purely optional) which includes things like a firewall and custom settings.
Hootsuite, for managing social media channels
Hootsuite is one of a range of "Social Media Management System" solutions. It enables businesses to keep track of and manage their numerous social network channels. They can monitor messages, see what people are saying and respond to issues as they arise. It is also possible to view streams from multiple networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+ and post new messages or reply directly. It’s a great way to manage brand image whilst interacting with customers quickly and efficiently.
Zoho Recruit, for managing applicants
Business growth relies on the cultivation of a group of competent, trustworthy employees. Over time, more people will come to work for the company, and it’s important to find the ideal person for each role. This usually involves posting listings, sifting through applicants and managing recruiters - all of which can mean time resource and major hassle.
Zoho Recruit works by automating this process to make recruitment much more streamlined. Once logged in, you can post new job ads, track statistics and even send emails through a variety of templates to applicants. This saves you the time and effort of rewriting new ones for every new application that’s received.
Microsoft Teams, for collaboration
With COVID-19 changing the way many businesses are operating, online meetings are becoming the new normal. Microsoft Teams is good because most businesses already have Office 365, meaning Microsoft Teams will already be available.
The free version of Teams allow for up to 300 users to:
- Group chat and collaborate with unlimited messages to users both inside and outside the company.
- Participate in video or audio calls between both groups and individuals.
- Have up to 10 GB of file storage per team, with an additional 2 GB personal storage per user.
- Enjoy direct access to apps including Excel, PowerPoint and Word - so documents and presentations can be created inside Teams itself, so that others can access and work on them.
- Access more than 140 integrated apps and services, including Adobe, Trello and Evernote.
Canva, for editing images
Canva is a multimedia design platform where users can create social media graphics, posters, presentations and other visual content. The platform is well laid out and intuitive to use, allowing businesses to create professional, high quality graphic designs. Incorporating a straight-forward drag-and-drop design tool, there’s also a massive array of over 1 million graphics, fonts and photos to choose from.
Top tip: Work smarter, not harder
Free software can drastically reduce the amount of money and time a business spends on IT, communication, marketing, promotional activities, bookkeeping and much more. Whilst many companies still believe that the more money you throw at something the better it will be, an expensive all-singing, all-dancing tool may well in fact not be the best option.
By using a free software solution, it’s easy and cheap to get rid of it if you don’t like it or no longer need it. Many of them also allow customisation, so they grow and adapt alongside the business.
Don’t forget to discuss R&D Tax Credits with your clients too
The great things about all this technology (besides it being free of course!) is that it can facilitate new ideas, innovative projects and company growth. For businesses that do take on innovative work, for example designing a new product, process or service or improving an existing one, R&D Tax Credits can help with the cost.
The scope for eligible R&D projects and expenditure is purposely very broad and there’s no minimum or maximum claim value. The benefit is offered by the government and is administered either as a reduction in Corporation Tax for profit-making companies or as a cash sum for those making a loss.
As much as 33 pence in every £1 of R&D expenditure can be claimed back, making it one of the most generous tax relief schemes around. But despite the fact that R&D tax relief has existed since the early 2000s, many businesses (and accountants) still haven’t heard of it, so many are still missing out. However, despite its generosity, the process of apply is highly complex comprising a number of vital components. This is why it’s strongly advised to work with R&D consultants like us.
Why use TAx Cloud on my client's R&D Tax Credits claim?
At Tax Cloud we deal solely with R&D tax relief, and understand the cash flow hurdles businesses face. We have worked alongside individuals and company accountants in developing their R&D tax relief applications, optimising their claims and avoiding the numerous pitfalls. Our Tax Cloud portal was designed with a section specifically for accountants, helping you in identifying your clients’ R&D expenditure and providing support.
We work hard in helping you to offer the very best service to your clients. Why not get in touch with our team on 0207 118 6045 or use our contact page and see how we can work with you today.