Top Five Free tools that don’t suck the Life out of you

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Ever get the feeling that working in your own business is sucking the life out of you?

If you’re working more than 8 hours a day, or more than 5 days a week you might, after a while, feel like your business is sucking the life right out of you. If you are struggling to get to sleep at night or the thought of waking up to another work day gives you panic attacks, maybe it’s time to make some changes.

If you are feeling like your feet are stuck in the mud and that for every step you take, life is pushing you back two steps, then you really need to stop and re-evaluate what is important to you.

The adage, work on your business, not in it, keeps raising its head. Why? Because it’s true. If you spend quality time working on your business, then you may not have to spend so much time working on it. Not only is planning vitally important in business (only 3 out of every hundred businesses have a business plan in Australia) but so is having the right tools.

Having the right tools makes your job a lot easier and can save you time and money in the long run. Talk to a builder and he’ll tell you that putting up a house frame takes 100 times longer with a hammer and nails than it does with a nail gun.

We’ve compiled a list of the top 5 free tools available to businesses to make life a little easier. Many blogs will give you the top 25, top 50 or even top 100, but realistically you are never going to be able to learn and implement more than one at a time.

A business associate and I took some time to attend a seminar where they did just that – spent all day listing the top 100 free software tools businesses should be using. Of the 100 that were delivered on the day, we discovered 5 gems, but of those five tools, we ended up only implementing one (and now two years on, I can’t remember which one it was!)

There’s a heap of tools available to build websites, create sales funnels, create automated responses, gadgets that do this and that, but if you are just looking for a way to get some extra time with your family or at least an hours extra sleep at night, then stopping to breathe and just implement one thing at a time might be what you are after. The other option is to invest in your business and get someone professional to do the tough stuff for you.

There’s so many free tools available to small businesses that we thought we would take a look at some of them and show you how you can benefit from them.

Here are our top 5 free programs that everyone in business should use. But remember to implement just one at a time.


This has to be my go-to app. I love it so much I invested in the professional version. I also love that this software gives you the option to try a free version to get used to it before you move to the next level. 30 days is never enough for me! Canva’s free version gives you a great starting point for creating wonderful social media graphics, cards, invites, presentations and much more. The free version has over 250 000 free templates.

The only time you will pay for anything on Canva is if you wish to use an image that is not included in the free list (and there’s hundreds of thousands of those available free).

Use the templates as a base for your own social media and then develop your own style guide (using and implement them in Canva.

Canva product details

My Tip: Spend the $165 per annum and upgrade to the pro version. It saves you big time on using graphics and also has a handy social media scheduler for up to 7 social media sites. You can also store your designs for your team to use.

Extra Tip with sauce: Don’t get too creative when changing the templates, they work for a reason. Find the style you like and adapt it to at least 10 templates/page designs based on the same style and colour scheme.

2. Trello

Trello is one of the best free project management software applications that we have implemented. It has a great range of templates to use as a starting point, but we found after trial and error that using it on real projects was the best way to get started. Once you start using it, you will work out quite quickly what you need to change.

Trello is an effective visual collaboration tool that helps you to organise and prioritise projects in a flexible, fun way. A Trello board is a series of lists, with a bunch of cards attached which you can use alone to manage your projects or collaborate with your team. The free version of Trello also includes automation for often used/performed tasks. Allow time to train yourself on Trello and work the system before introducing it to other members of your team.

Create a to-do list for yourself to practice on. Start with a To-do list, (add your cards/jobs), a DOING list and then a DONE list. Play with dates and notifications, labels and some of the other features before adding other people.

Personalised Trello list

Our ‘Get bathrooms cleaned weekly’ Tip: Start simple. Create a Trello board for your family to do jobs around the home. Don’t create a complicated system, no one will ever be able to follow it and you’ll just get people frustrated and not wanting to use it.


One that we recommend to our customers when deciding on colour schemes is
Follow our easy start up on how you can use to create your own style guide and generate your own colours schemes to use for;

  • Logos
  • Letterheads
  • Presentations
  • Signage
  • Building colour scheme
  • Business interiors is also great for home renovators, DIY’ers and even for colour coordinating your kids school projects. If you are not a creative person or a designer, allows you to work with what appeals to you and then have a series of palettes or swatches ready for when you do need to employ a graphic designer.

Take a quick look at our easy, startup introduction to palette

4. Mailchimp

Mailchimp is an all-in-one marketing platform that helps you manage and talk to your clients, customers, and other interested parties using direct marketing (email). It allows you to create beautiful email templates and send them.

As Mailchimp is a web-based application, it works in most web browsers, which means you don’t need to download or install any software on your computer. It also has an easy to follow user set-up/start-up information for new users.

We use Mailchimp to stay in touch with our audience (customers) as it offers us easy integration with our .csv file created from our websites. We can update to include new customers and take out contacts that are no longer relevant. It allows us to push an audience back to our website to build new leads and create conversions.

Email marketing is just one part of an effective marketing strategy and Mailchimp allows you to do it easily and has the tools you need to look professional even if you are just starting out.

Mailchimp Marketing Slogan

Our save your head and your sanity tip: Start small. If you are new to the digital world, trying to build a website, implementing an eCommerce shopping system and building customer purchasing paths in automation will only give you a headache. Leave that to the professionals unless you have the time to dedicate to learning digital marketing.

5. Hubspot CRM

If you haven’t used a customer relationship management program like Hubspot before it might seem a little daunting, but as a means to track your prospective customers, keep track of your sales team and offers, it’s a fantastic tool. As you get more familiar with it, you can start looking at introducing paid elements that allow you a more involved dashboard.

If you are paying for a spreadsheet program to track your contact, then maybe you should consider a free version of Hubspot and invite your team to join.

Hubspot website

There’s so many free tools available to small businesses that we thought we would take a look at some of them and show you how you can benefit from them.

Our top five are the ones that we have used in business in the past and still do to this day. We have upgraded to the paid version of some, but all of these in the beginning, made our job much easier. But remember, you don’t need to learn 100, 50 or even 5 new programs, just look at one right now because if you start looking at all of them at once, you may never get your job done!

Depending on your needs, choose the program that can help you the most.

And if you need help, call us.

Cheryl Jowitt, co-founder of Rebel Connect PL, a family owned and operated Australian business that helps small to medium-sized businesses compete in a digital world. Cheryl loves creating things in her spare time and in a past lifetime was a prolific writer and painter. Now she drinks anything with bubbles in it (except detergent, although she has been known to have done so blowing bubbles with her kids!)

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