While the price of computers has really dropped over the years, the cost of business software has remained constant. It can be an expensive proposition to purchase all the small business software your arts and crafts business needs. Obviously, there are some business software programs you can’t live without and you’ll need to purchase them to get a license and support.
However, for the other small business software packages that you’d like to use, if free is the price tag you’re looking for check out these no-cost alternatives to various software packages.
OpenOffice is a complete office suite with a loyal client base going back 20 years. It includes word processing, spreadsheet, database and presentation applications that are very easy to use allowing you to do a multitude of tasks for your arts and crafts business. Create customer invoices, generate a customer database, track sales and craft simple brochures.
Additionally, most of the work that you’ve done in other business software should migrate to OpenOffice.org with no problem. 100% free for both business and personal use, many Microsoft Word users I’ve talked to prefer it to the Office Professional 2007 Suite.
Ever been traveling while exhibiting at arts and crafts show only to find out that you need access to a file that’s on the computer at home? Google has free online document and spreadsheet programs that you can access from any computer connected to the internet. It also works with iPhones.
Google docs lets you create documents from scratch, you can use their templates or upload your own files. With acceptable file formats including DOC, XLS, ODT, ODS, RTF, CSV and PPT, this software would also be helpful if you have sales reps outside your local area with whom you need to share files.
If you need to backup and sync files, Dropbox is a free program that automatically updates file changes made on one computer to multiple computers. Like Google Docs, this software also provides online storage space. 2GB of storage is free. There are various stepped storage plans. The most expensive is 100GB of storage for $19.95/month.
Dropbox works with mobile devices. iPhones have an app for that! Another great feature is that Dropbox keeps a history of every change made so that you can undo any mistakes and even undelete files. They keep automatically keep the last 30 days file history and have an unlimited undo option called "Pack-rat".
GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP)
Similar to Photoshop, GIMP includes photo enhancement features, a full suite of paint tools, transformation and selection tools. It’s very useful if you need to tweak product images before you upload them to your website.
Originally best known to Linux and Unix users, it also works with Windows XP. Some Vista users report problems with hanging.