Business Owners – Save Thousands With Free, Open Source Software

For years huge software companies have dominated the software marketplace by charging businesses a hefty price for using their software. Thankfully there are software developers out there that offer a free alternative.

Open source software is usually as good as the commercial versions. Here is a list of commercial products and their open source alternatives (with descriptions) that you can use to run your small business – best of all these open source software titles are FREE!

– GENERAL OFFICE SOFTWARE (SPREADSHEET, WORD PROCESSING, PRESENTATIONS, ETC…)

Commercial Product: Microsoft Office

Open Source Alternative: OpenOffice

OpenOffice has all the features you need to run you small business. The entire office suite is here, everything that Microsoft Word can do “Writer” can do for FREE. Need to keep track of information and perform sales/expense calculations in a spreadsheet, “Calc” can do it. Giving a presentation to potential customers on a projector? “Impress” can give you all the functionality you need in on-screen presentation software. There are more applications in suite so I recommend you download and install OpenOffice for free and compare the features before you go out and purchase Microsoft Office 2007 for $679.99. OpenOffice can be used on Apple and PCs.

– ZIPPING FILES

Commercial Product: WinZip

Open Source Alternative: 7-zip

For years I dealt with the “WinZip is NOT free software” message and waited for 150 days to count out before zipping my folders/files, now I don’t have to. If you (like most people) downloaded WinZip and did not buy it – don’t worry you don’t need to. Download 7-zip for free and get all the nice features of WinZip for free. I really like how it adds a new right-click menu entry for zipping files (just like WinZip).

– MIND MAPPING

Commercial Product: Mindjet MindManager

Open Source Alternative: FreeMind

The people that develop mind mapping software are amazing. The concept of being able to layout my ideas in a structured way, really helped me visualize certain aspects of my business that were complex and sometimes confusing. However when by trial of MindManager ran out, I had a problem – I didn’t want to spend $349 to get my ideas out of my head. Along came FreeMind.

FreeMind can do everything most people need when it comes to structuring your ideas, and as always – it is free. FreeMind can be used on Apple and PCs.

– CREATING A PDF

Commercial Product: Adobe Acrobat/Adobe Distiller

Open Source Alternative: PDFCreator

PDFs are a great way to get people to see your documents as you intended. The problem is making them. While the Adobe Acrobat can do this, the $449 price tag makes it very unsttractive. Let me introduce PDFCreator.

PDFCreator basically adds a printer (that you can give a custom name) to your available printer list. When you are ready to convert any document to a PDF, use File > Print like you normally would, now choose your PDF printer from the list, hit Print (then save) and your done. It works great.

– CHECKING EMAIL

Commercial Product: Microsoft Outlook

Open Source Alternative: Mozilla Thunderbird

Nothing is as exciting as getting your own email address. Freeing yourself from the “@aol.com” stigma is a great thing. Now you have the problem of “How do I check my new email address if I don’t have AOL?” You have two options, buy Microsoft Outlook for $109.99 or download Mozilla Thunderbird for free. If you just need to be able to check your email, Mozilla Thunderbird is a great choice.

– CALLING PEOPLE THROUGH THE INTERNET (VOIP)

Commercial Product: Vonage

Open Source Alternative: Skype

Here is a funny story. I was using Vonage for about a year (paying $24.99 per month) when I heard about a new Skype deal ($29.95 for unlimited calling per YEAR) I was interested and wanted to cancel my Vonage account. I called Vonage support (because you can’t cancel your account online) and told them I wanted to cancel my Vonage account, of course they ask you why you want to leave. Not one to lie, I told the nice customer service rep that I was gong to switch to Skype, she asked why – bad idea. I told her about the $29.95 for unlimited calling per YEAR which is a yearly savings of $250 for my business, she said “However sir, are you aware that you have to talk through your computer’s microphone?” I said “No, that isn’t true, there are regular cordless phones that are compatible with Skype, so I can be anywhere in my office”. She was silent for a second. The she said “Did you know that with Vonage you can take your number with you to different locations, like if you move offices or between the office and home?” I replied “Yes, Skype can do that easier than Vonage”. She finally canceled my account.

You kind of get the idea of Skype VS. Vonage from my story, but here is something really cool – Belkin (and a few other manufacturers) have created Skype handsets that DO NOT need to be connected to a computer to use Skype. These devices connect through any open wireless network and make calls through Skype. This means that if you had one of these devices and the unlimited Skype account, you would have an unlimited use cell phone! Vonage can’t do that! Skype can be used on Apple and PCs.

As you can see from above, you can have some really great business software without having to pay the high price for commercial software. Don’t get me wrong, I think Microsoft and other big companies make great software titles, but if I can get a very similar version for FREE and save my business money (which means more money in MY pocket) – sorry Microsoft I am going with the open source versions.

If you need help finding and downloading any of the above open source titles, just contact me and I’ll help you out. Enjoy!

The Birth of a Successful Internet Business: Part Three of Ten — Essential Software

An essential part of running a successful Internet business is quality software. Software will play a major role in your success. You must be willing to invest in the software you’ll need to assist you in running your business.

Email Program

The first and most important software you’ll need is a quality email program. Although most Internet Service Providers include email accounts for their customers, these accounts aren’t adequate for an Internet business — especially if you get a large amount of email. Not only do the email addresses contain your ISP’s name, but they are also very limited on features and options.

There are many email programs available on the Internet. However, the best program I’ve found is Mozilla Thunderbird. Thunderbird is a standalone email program that works with any ISP. It will enable you to easily organize your email by filtering your messages into specific mailboxes. This feature alone can save you a great deal of time. What’s more, your email address will be your own domain — not someone else’s.

Email List Service

Collecting your visitors’ email address is one of the most important parts of developing a successful Internet business. You must develop a database of potential customers if you truly want to succeed. Publishing an ezine is a great way to accomplish this. In order to do so, you must have a good email list service, such as Aweber, that will enable you to send your potential customers personalized messages.

HTML Editor

Your website is the storefront of your business and is one of the most important factors in determining your success. In order to design your website, you’ll need to get a good HTML editor, such as Coffee Cup or DreamWeaver.

Web Browsers

Before you begin the actual design process, I highly recommend that you download and install the most popular web browsers — Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. These are the most widely used browsers on the Internet. However, they are not created equally. Your page might look great when viewed through Internet Explorer, but may not display well when viewed through Chrome. It is very important that you view your website through different browsers and design your pages accordingly.

Graphics Editor

Graphic design is an intimidating subject for many Internet entrepreneurs. However, most of us must learn some basic design techniques in order to avoid the high costs of hiring a professional designer.

In order to create or edit your graphics, you’ll need to invest in a good graphics program. The most popular program used by Internet marketers is Paint Shop Pro. This powerful program is the only program you’ll need to design professional looking graphics.

Zip/Unzip Program

Zip files are used to compress and transport file archives over the Internet. It is the preferred method used for electronic file distribution, as rather than downloading several different files, you can simply download one Zip file. In addition, the download time will be minimized, as the files within the Zip archive are compressed.

Once a Zip file is downloaded, it can be easily opened and extracted (unzipped) with a Zip/Unzip software program.

Although there are many Zip software programs available on the Internet, WinZip is the most popular. WinZip makes working with file archives simple.

FTP Program

File Transfer Protocol, better known as FTP, is a procedure used to upload and download files to and from your web server.

In order to use FTP, you’ll need to download and install a software program on your computer. The most widely used FTP program is WS FTP Pro.

Text Editor

Text editors have a variety of uses such as writing HTML, editing scripts, and writing ezine articles — just to name a few. NotePad is an excellent text editor and is most likely already installed on your computer. However, it can’t handle large files and is better suited for smaller files. You may find that you’d like an editor that is a little more powerful. I use a great program called NoteTab Pro. This powerful editor will enable you to edit large files, format your text, convert your text to HTML, and even includes a spellchecker and thesaurus.

Ad Tracking

Testing and tracking your marketing strategies is an essential part of your success. I recommend using a great script called LnkinLite. It’s simple to use and will assist you in tracking all of your strategies.

Financial Management

In order to keep track of your business financial matters, you’ll need to invest in a good financial management software. The best program I’ve found is Quicken. However, as this program is very difficult to use and understand, you may want to use a spreadsheet program, such as Microsoft Excel, and set up your own system.

Tax Program

Filing your taxes and keeping up with the ever-changing tax laws can be very intimidating. However, if you keep good records and use a good tax program, you can file your taxes with ease. I highly recommend using Turbo Tax. This great program will make the process a lot easier and even enable you to file your taxes electronically. What’s more, it will even allow you to import your Quicken files.

Although this list of software is far from complete, it will provide you with a basic guideline to get you started. Visit your favorite search engine to search for the software you’d like.

If you’re serious about your business and you really want to succeed, purchasing software is an absolute must. Do your homework and select software that best suits your needs. It will be well worth the investment.

How Do Zip Files Work?

Zipping is a process that makes a file into a smaller one that can be handled more easily because it does not pose any size constraints. Graphics files are already compressed and zipping does not reduce their size much, so it is primarily large text files that need to be compressed such a. txt, .doc files.

The popular zip file format was created Phil Katz in 1986. Windows began to include it as a feature from its 1998 version. Apple and Mac also introduced it in their systems. In Windows, zipping a file is just a couple of simple steps. Put all the files that need to be compressed into a folder and name the folder. Use a name that commonly identifies all the files that have been grouped into the folder so that identification is made easy. Right click the folder and select the send to option for specify the ‘Compressed ( Zipped)’ option. Click this option to carry out the zip process. A dialog box open showing the zip process and you can see how much progress is happening, as the file is being zipped. The zipped file has a.zip extension.

There is a wide range of zip software from which you can select. You can choose from software such as WinZip, PicoZip, PKZip, PentaZip, PowerArchiver, and StuffIt. They are mostly easy-to-install and had a ‘classic’ interface that helps users to quickly learn how to handle them. The most popular compression utility is WinZip. WinZip has a friendly and you just have to point and click or drag and drop to perform function such as adding, running, extracting, viewing or deleting zip file.

Zipping offers several advantages. Attaching a zipped file in an email, takes shorter time and file transmission takes place faster. If you need to send a large set of files on request, putting them into a single folder that is then zipped, helps in faster transmission and lower use of disk space and email storage space. Many zip software offer encryption facilities by which the file is protected from unauthorized access. Zipping is a facility that is not restricted to individual file and can be used on a group of files that have been put into a single folder. Large files that are not used often are better off being in a compressed zipped form as this ways available disk space can be utilized for other purposes. Hope you have enjoyed reading this article.