Businessman stressed by too many tasks   When you’re starting out running an online business you soon discover that those business apps that you simply must have can work out rather expensive. But there are plenty of alternatives, some of which are as good if not better than their premium priced equivalents. Let’s take a look:

Image editing

If you need to resize and edit photographs, say for your ecommerce store you need access to a great photo editor. We’ve all heard of photoshop (the original and still best option) but it’s not cheap and to be honest, you probably won’t use 95% of what it can do. So let me introduce you to PIXLR. Pixlr is a cloud based image editor you access through a web browser. If you’ve used any kind of editor before it will immediately feel familiar and it works very well. Best of all, it’s free to use. Alternatives? If you want to download a more traditional app to your computer, take a look at GIMP, an open source alternative to photoshop that’s nearly as old.

Project management

The web is littered with a miriad of project management apps, some of which are well established such as Basecamp and newer more visual offerings such as Trello. Here at Pixelhaus we’ve used them all but the one we currently use and like the best is called PRODUCTEEV. It has a fairly intuitive layout, allows for unlimited projects and users (most other suites in this area charge per user) and the standard edition is free (there is a premium version with support but the product is still the same). Highly recommended.

Contact management systems (CRM)

How do you manage your contacts ? If everything else you do is online, then it only makes sense to use a CRM that can share your records across different platforms. This is one arena where you will find literally dozens of players from premium, corporate products that require a residential course to get your head around such as Goldmine and Salesforce to cheaper cloud based products such as Capsule CRM and Zoho right down to open source apps you can self install. We love HUBSPOT CRM. This is the core of a suite of inbound marketing add-ons you can pay for, but the essential CRM at the heart of it is free regardless of the number of records. There’s even a phone app for it too.


Letters. Spreadsheets. Presentations. You can’t have the fun stuff without the boring stuff too. Sorry about that. It may well be that you need Microsoft Office in your life which is fine but did you know Google makes their own suite of productivity apps. And they are all free! Write letters, create spreadsheets and presentations and save them to your Google Drive (a free cloud based storage folder). What’s not to like ? If you prefer a traditional suite of office tools to install directly on to your pc or mac then Open Office is a great open source alternative that is fully featured.

To summarise

All of these apps are cloud based which means they live on a remote server and you access them through a web browser. So you can be 100% productive with zero outlay!