It’s normal for anyone that’s just bought a new [tp lang=”en” only=”y”]Lenovo[/tp][tp not_in=”en”]Lenovo[/tp] laptop or Apple tablet to want to kit it out with the latest software, especially if they’re planning on using the machine for more than just surfing the web and watching films. Unfortunately, a lot of software (especially the most renowned programmes) can be pricey. That’s why we’re going to take a look at substitutes: software that does a similar job to the big names, without costing the earth. Or indeed, costing anything at all…
There’s no arguing with the fact that Microsoft’s Office Suite continues to rule the roost in terms of office software. However, for those that don’t want to splash out hundreds, LibreOffice offers a fine alternative at no cost whatsoever. It offers alternatives to Word, Excel and Powerpoint and it can even save documents in the format of the MS equivalent programme (though it’s wise to check for formatting when crossing over). It’s worth noting that there isn’t an e-mail client in the package, so something like Mozilla’s Thunderbird will also be needed.
The name is GNU Image Manipulation Program and the game is editing photos and other images. Once again, an absolute dead like-for-like replacement is a bit unrealistic given that Photoshop can cost upwards of five hundred pounds. However, GIMP certainly does offer most of the basic photo editing tools such as cropping, cutting and snipping, adding layers, adjusting colour balances and all the rest. For everyone other than photography professionals, it’s a more than sufficient substitute.
Here, we’re going to look at website design. It’s worth noting, of course, that there is no real substitute for genuine graphic skills and programming knowledge and that if you’re running a business with a 500k profit margin, then you should probably bite the bullet and hire a professional. However, for those that want to start a blog or build a simple site for showcasing their music, Kompozer is an excellent WYSIWYG editor that costs precisely nothing and mimics the popular Dreamweaver interface. What’s more, it uses an FTP manager that offers the capability of sending files back and forth to the web address itself, which is ideal for those with less experience of the technical side.
We’d be surprised if there are any businesses out there that actually like doing their accounts. (Accountants notwithstanding, of course!). Many companies therefore rely on software to help keep track of everything. Quickbooks is the software of choice for many, but it’s relatively expensive to purchase. Turbocash has everything a business could realistically need. It can help the user to manage quotes and proposals, it can issue invoices and keep track of accounts payable and receivable. The interface is intuitive, too. All for the grand price of nothing.
Being in a smaller business can be tough, especially one that relies on sales but doesn’t yet have the resources to employ proper sales staff. SugarCRM can genuinely help to manage and build relationships with customers (CRM stands for ‘customer relationship management’). It can keep track of leads, build profiles of previous customers and let you keep track of what stage different leads are at. Salesforce.com – which is considered a market leader for many people – can be upwards of a few hundred pounds a year. SugarCRM costs nothing.
Guest article written by: Ella Mason, an experienced freelance writer, wrote this article. Ella specialises in providing useful and engaging advice to small businesses. Follow her on Twitter @ellatmason