Q&A Monday: Small Business Alternatives


Hi Jim,
I recently have come across your blog and have found what I understood interesting.  I am not much of a tech person, but I am currently starting my own business, and my budget doesn’t allow for a lot of money spent on software. I plan to get all the normal software (outlook, office) as my company starts to make money, but I am looking for really cheap software to start off with, are there any good suggestions out there?

Peggy J. Lujan
Toledo, OH


This is a good question that many small business find themselves when the start out.  There are now a couple different options out there and you should try as many as you can, to find what’s right for your business.

Office Alternatives:

Google Docs: Google’s recent move into the document creation, has created this free software suite.  Google Docs lets you create and store documents online, that you can download and share.  It has a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing and form creation.  Having the documents stored online, helps keep your documents off your local computer.

Open Office:  If you aren’t constantly connected to the internet and are looking for more of a traditional software package that resides on your computer or laptop, then open office is the suite for you.  Open office has been a free competitor of the Office suite offering the same packages.

Outlook Alternitives

GMail:  If you have your own domain name, then pointing it to Gmail or using Gmail to download your messages is a simple way to manage your e-mail.  You can have all your e-mail come to one simple to interface and respond using any e-mail addresses you have registered with them.

Thunderbird: If you like to have something physically on your computer, then Thunderbird is the one to have on your computer.  Thunderbird is the competitor to Outlook and having used it, it feels pretty similar.


WordPress: Your business isn’t anything now a days without a website that you can direct clients or customers too.  Now many companies themselves can’t design their own website or even pay someone to design a site for them.  Wordpress is an easy way to make a blog that you can use as your website.  Keeping your customers in the loop about what’s going on and ability to get some information about your company.

These are just some of the programs that you can use to start your company.  Many of these programs have some level of compatibility with the more popular Microsoft Office Suite, but are free.  Evaluate what works best for your start up company and test other alternatives, these are just the most popular ones, that I’ve recommended in the past.

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