By Amanda Ryder
June 17, 2009 – We’ve searched the Internet for free or almost-free
online programs and courses that will help you run your shop, manage
your website and make day-to-day operations just a little bit easier.
Here’s a look at what we found:
You know from working in a floral shop that everyone likes to get
something for free. Whether it’s a free wedding consultation, free
delivery or extra flowers in a bouquet, giving something for nothing is
a sure way to make someone’s day. Well, now it’s time to make your day.
We’ve searched the Internet for free or almost-free online programs and
courses that will help you run your shop, manage your website and make
day-to-day operations just a little bit easier. Here’s a look at what
Free training tools
Small Business Success Course
– This course is hosted by About.com’s Small Business Canada site and
is designed to help you increase your success as a business owner via
e-mail. All you have to do is sign up with your name, e-mail and
birthday and you will receive e-mailed lessons as part of the 10-week
class. Each lesson will focus on one success strategy and a single
success assignment for the week. The weekly strategy will also include
related reading for those students who want to go the extra mile.
Small Business Website Course
– This is another online course brought to you by About.com. The
eleven-week program focuses on what small business owners need to know
about building a website.
– Created by the government of Alberta, this website was set up to
provide businesspeople in rural Canada easy access to topics of
interest. Users can go online to listen to or download podcasts for
their MP3 players on topics like growing your business, finding a
work-life balance, succession planning and more.
Free website help
Microsoft Office Live Small Business
– For those who still haven’t made the move online with a website, this
program is packed with free goodies like a free website, web hosting,
domain name and e-mail, website traffic reports and access to other
no-cost tools to help you make your website look professional. The
catch? It’s only free for the first year but it’s a good way to get
your feet wet in the web world.
– If you are looking to add video to your website, in e-mails on
YouTube or use videos as online advertisements, Spotmixer.com can help.
The site offers retailers a video template, a library of stock photos
and a collection of licensed music to help the most computer-challenged
people create a video. You can also upload your own photos to make a
more personalized product.
– Add professional looking surveys and polls to your website with
PollDaddy.com. This easy-to-use site allows you to create single- or
multiple-answer polls and even the free version allows you to post an
unlimited number of surveys per month.
Fun – but still free – extras
– Are you looking to revamp your brand? CrowdSpring.com allows
businesses to post ads for creative work like business logos or t-shirt
designs and name a price they are willing to pay (the cash prize). Once
the information is posted, artists from around the world submit their
creations. The business selects their favourite entry and awards the
winner the cash. This service includes a free contract so the company
retains ownership of the design. The going rate on the website ranges
from $250-500 per project (significantly less than what an ad agency
would charge) and the average project attracts 68 entries.
– Create, track and manage your custom loyalty and gift card program
with this website. The company’s web-based interface allows businesses
to track this information and also permits customers to enrol online
and check their loyalty points and gift card balances all with the
click of a button. Go online to check out a free trial.
– This program lets you find out what people are saying about your
business, your competitors and your industry. StepRep lets you manage
these stories by storing them in different categories of your choosing
like customer reviews, nasty comments or things to keep an eye on. The
website will also broadcast positive stories to the people who visit
your blog, your website or your profile on any social networking site.
As a fun side note – the company is also Canadian and based in