500+ https://fivehundredplus.com Grow Your Small Business With The Right Software Mon, 16 Nov 2020 19:02:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.3 https://fivehundredplus.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/cropped-Digital_logo-1-150x150.png 500+ https://fivehundredplus.com 32 32 Best Free Website Builders for Small Businesses https://fivehundredplus.com/best-free-website-builders-for-small-businesse/ https://fivehundredplus.com/best-free-website-builders-for-small-businesse/#respond Mon, 16 Nov 2020 19:02:30 +0000 https://fivehundredplus.com/?p=166 There’s no way to sugarcoat it; starting a small business is not easy. Turning your brilliant idea into a reality is both daunting and time-consuming. Endless tasks seem to pile up, and it can be easy to get stuck in your head. One of the essential components of a successful small business is a well-functioning website.

Luckily, building a website today is easier than ever. There are several free website builders out there; it’s almost overwhelming to choose one. In this post, we’ll cover the best free website builders for small businesses so you can share your idea with the rest of the world. 

Benefits of a Free Website Builder

So is going with a free website builder a suitable option to start growing and promoting your company? Absolutely, but here are a few things you should know before choosing a free website builder:

Advantages

  • You can start building your website straight away without spending a cent.
  • You can upgrade to a paid plan whenever you’re ready.
  • Free website builders come with several tools and templates to help get you started.

Disadvantages

  • Free website builders are usually limited.
  • You will eventually need to upgrade to use all of the features.
  • You don’t get a custom domain name.

A website isn’t something you design and then leave alone for the rest of your business’s existence. You and your team will need to continuously update and promote your site if you want your business to thrive. That’s why a free website builder is only useful as a temporary solution.

However, we understand that every dollar counts when first starting. That’s why building the first version of your site with a free website builder is a fantastic idea. You won’t have access to advanced features, and your site might appear bland, but at least you have something to show your first few customers. 

This brings us to our list of best free website builders for small businesses. Let’s see which one offers the most free features, along with other vital factors such as speed and customer service. 

The Best Free Website Builders for Small Businesses

All of the free website builders claim to be the best. However, some are better than others, and certain free website builders are more suitable for specific business types and industries. Fortunately, all of the sites on our list have a wide array of useful features in their free and paid plans.

Here’s our list of the best free website builders for small businesses:

Weebly – Best for eCommerce

Weebly is one of the most famous website builders on the market. Its primary demographic are eCommerce storefronts; however, they still have a straightforward drag and drop site builder that even the most tech-illiterate business owners can make use of. Weebly’s site builder comes with useful features to help you manage customers and track sales.

Like most free website builders, the free plan is quite limited, but the starting plan is affordable for those on a tight budget. One of the best things about Weebly is all the tools they offer to help scale your site as you grow. 

Weebly’s free plan has a vast library of 50 themes and templates to choose from. Each of the templates is visually appealing and easy to navigate. The Weebly designs are eye-catching enough to attract new customers and make your business stand out. If you aren’t satisfied with the theme you choose, you can change it at any time. 

It’s important to know that whichever theme you choose will dictate how you edit your site. If the theme has a three grid layout, that’s all you can work with. While this can be frustrating at times, it’s workable for beginners who aren’t experts in web design. 

Pros:

  • Each theme is attractive and user-friendly
  • The site builder is incredibly simple to use
  • Importing and designing product pages is straightforward (for eCommerce sites)

Cons:

  • Editing themes is minimal
  • Low storage capacity with the free plan (500mb)

Wix – Most Versatile

Wix is one of the most favorable free website builders because it’s free forever and plenty of features to help you scale your business. Some of the most notable features are SEO guidance, personalized emails, and marketing tools. However, the paid plans can be a bit pricey, and the building features are minimal.

If you’re building your first website, Wix is a great place to start. The design flexibility is unique and fits almost all business types. Whether you’re starting a blog, portfolio, service page, or a store, Wix has a theme for you. Although the number of tools can be overwhelming for beginners, Wix has plenty of tutorials to help you get your feet wet.

For those who want to do the minimum amount of work when building a site, you can use the Wix Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI). Just plug in a few details about your business, and the AI builds your site for you. We don’t recommend using this to make your entire site, but it will help get the basics out of the way.

The Wix templates are all modern and user-friendly. Choosing a template is easy, and you can always switch your template if you aren’t happy with your design. Optimizing your site for mobile is crucial for success, and Wix has a straightforward mobile site editor to make sure you aren’t missing out on any of the precious traffic. 

Pros:

  • Suitable for both beginners and advanced users
  • Several free tools to help grow your business
  • User-friendly platform and easy to navigate

Cons:

  • Storage is limited with the free plan
  • No custom domain
  • Ads on your site 

Ucraft – Easiest to Use

Ucraft is one of the lesser-known free website builders, but it’s one of the best. For starters, you can connect your custom domain to your site free of charge. This feature alone sets it apart from competitors. Now you can create a beautiful website and protect your brand identity. 

The website builder has several useful elements to make your site look and function great. However, those looking to build an eCommerce store will need to pay for the upgrade before they can start building out product pages. 

The Ucraft templates are slick and don’t really require much editing. Out of all the 70 templates, you’re sure to find one that goes just right with your brand. You can add images, videos, navigation bars, eye-catching call to action buttons, and more. Like other site builders on our list, you can swap your template at any time without compromising your site’s functionality.  

Navigating the site editor can be a bit confusing at first; however, once you get the hang of it, the sky’s the limit. We recommend choosing one of the basic templates then adding whatever you need in later. 

Pros:

  • Allows custom domain
  • eCommerce upgrade is exceptionally affordable
  • Over 70 modern and user-friendly templates

Cons:

  • No option for personalized business email
  • Ucraft logo on your site with the free plan

SITE123 – Small Business Specific

Since SITE123 is easy to use, it’s one of the best free site builders for small businesses. Using their site builder saves you time because you don’t need to focus on hefty design work. With that in mind, it being so beginner-friendly makes it limited. You won’t have as many options for customizing your templates, so you have to work with what you got. 

Fortunately, SITE123 makes it incredibly easy to scale your website as you grow. You can always start with a basic template and after you nail those first few clients, upgrade your site to something more sophisticated. 

One thing that makes SITE123 stand out from the crowd is that they offer over 200 themes for the free plan. That’s more than double some of the other options on our list. Each theme is modern and can fit any screen perfectly. You can drag in eye-catching headings and images, build out custom navigation bars, upload informative videos, and change the color scheme.

If you’re a small business owner with zero experience building websites, then SITE123 is the perfect solution for getting your new website up quickly. Simply choose a template to start with and start making the small changes that matter the most. If you don’t like the way your site looks, you can easily change the template and find one that matches your personality. 

Pros:

  • Easy to use for those with little to no web design experience
  • Over 200 beautiful templates to choose from
  • Integrated email marketing tools

Cons:

  • No custom coding
  • Limited site builder

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are several free website builders out there that can help get you to kickstart your business’s online presence. We recommend you think about your company’s goals and then choose a site builder that lines up. We believe Wix is the best overall, considering it has themes for almost any type of business. 

What are your thoughts on our list of the best free website builders for small businesses? We hope this post was helpful and gets you well on your way to creating your new website. 

]]>
https://fivehundredplus.com/best-free-website-builders-for-small-businesse/feed/ 0
6 Best Free CRM for Small Business https://fivehundredplus.com/best-free-crm-for-small-business/ https://fivehundredplus.com/best-free-crm-for-small-business/#respond Mon, 16 Nov 2020 18:59:07 +0000 https://fivehundredplus.com/?p=163 Making your customers feel personally valued and cared for is crucial to an effective marketing campaign and business continuity. No one wants to feel like just another prospect on your cold-calling or emailing list, and current statistics show this to be painfully true. 

In the last year alone, consumer trust has declined by 4% across all industries. This is quite alarming, as over one-third of customers have reported that they typically spread the word about negative experiences with companies, meaning that falling trust could prove fatal to your business.

Fortunately, a solution is not out of reach. You can get access to some of the best free CRM for small businesses in the industry for no money at all. The top examples of this incredible software are listed below. 

  1. Hubspot

Hubspot is a free CRM software that optimizes small business growth related to “marketing, sales, and service.” 

This tool is specially designed to help budding companies and entrepreneurs enhance their lead generation, boost sales, improve their website functionality and aesthetics, all while refining the customer experience.

Hubspot’s services are divided into the following categories:

  • Marketing Hub: Tools in this section are intended to boost traffic and conversion on your business’s website. With Hubspot’s marketing tools, you’ll be fully equipped to plan and execute scalable inbound marketing campaigns. The most popularly used features in this category include lead generation, marketing automation, and data analytics. 
  • Sales Hub: These tools are designed to automate tedious work, and gather usable data on your prospects, streamlining the sales process. You’ll be better prepared to quickly and efficiently close on sales, and thus, generate more income for your business. People most often use advanced CRM, scheduling, and quotes functions in this software. 
  • Service Hub: Improve your customers’ experience exponentially with these service-oriented tools. You’ll be better able to connect and communicate with your customers, allowing you to receive feedback and address customer concerns with minimal hassle. 
  • CMS Hub: This set of tools is designed to improve your experience in managing your business’s content and polish your customer’s experience on your website. To accomplish this, Hubspot has included a drag-and-drop editor, SEO guidance, and appealing website themes in this portion of the CRM software’s resources.

To ensure the best experience with their CRM, Hubspot offers phone and email support, training, and community forums for continuous assistance and quality assurance. 

2. Zoho

Used by more than 150,000 companies worldwide, this free CRM is designed to assist business owners in customer engagement and relationship management, lead generation and conversion, and revenue growth. 

Zoho regards their software as an “end-to-end” CRM, meaning that you can rely on these web tools throughout the entirety of your customer relationships – from the moment your prospects are drawn in by your marketing efforts to the final moments of closing the sale. And all over again!

Zoho is home to the first-ever multichannel CRM, which enables you to connect with your prospects via:

  • Email
  • Chat
  • Social Media
  • Phone

Further, real-time sales monitoring will notify you immediately when you close a deal in any of these channels. Although there are numerous avenues of communication between your company and your clients, you don’t have to juggle between different applications to keep track of your exchanges. 

Instead, Zoho keeps them all in one place, helping to streamline your workflow and prevent messages from getting lost in the shuffle between communication platforms.

To support conversion success, Zoho even provides automated suggestions of the best times to contact prospects, alerting you to sales anomalies, and more, all based on your historical sales trends. This is all available via the program’s artificial intelligence (AI) “sales assistant,” Zia. 

If you’re looking for an easy-to-use, high-powered CRM solution with endless automation options at no cost, look no further than Zoho. 

3. Freshworks (formerly Freshales)

The Freshworks team refers to their CRM software as the “single source of truth” for small businesses. Why? With these tools, you can monitor and manage every imaginable aspect of your customer relationships, prospect and client data, and the full customer experience. 

Their CRM functions and resources are combined by AI to provide the highest possible level of efficiency for you and your team. Freshworks’ free tools are designed to help business owners with the following work:

  • Record management: Improve your customer data management by separating leads and contacts, creating new client accounts, and managing pending deals, all in one space. With unlimited management applications, you can maximize your recordkeeping efficiency to provide the greatest possible customer service. 
  • Lead scoring: For better marketing campaign results, Freshsales free CRM will effectively rank your prospects, so you know who to contact for the best chance at conversion. This way, you can eliminate any hesitation and confusion in your marketing process and close on deals as swiftly as possible. 
  • Task management: To help your team stay on-task, Freshsales will provide reminders and enable assignment and appointment tracking. This will improve your sales teams’ productivity and organization. 

This is only a partial list of all the powerful features and functions you can access with Freshworks’ CRM software. Plus, the company offers 24/5 support through phone, email, and chat, to ensure the best possible experience for both you and your customers. 

4. Streak

As one of the best free CRM for small business, this software is specially designed for compatibility with Google applications (Gmail, Drive, Calendar, and more) to optimize pipeline management. The software automatically captures contact data and will send you notifications for each pipeline milestone, helping you and your staff remain up-to-date on sales and marketing tasks. 

For enhanced, streamlined collaboration, Streak allows every member of your team to share access to emails, notes, and call logs, in case one colleague needs to take over responsibility for a deal or client relationship. 

Streak’s emailing features include: 

  • View tracking (receive notifications when recipients open your emails)
  • Outbound email scheduling
  • Creation of email threads to improve the organization of client and prospect exchanges
  • Email merging
  • “Snippets” (grow a collection of repeatedly used email formats and content)

Streak is used by over 750,000 individuals and has been recognized by Google as the 2018 “Google’s Technology Partner of the Year.” 

Whether you’re an Android or iOS user, you can depend on the Streak web extension or API (application programming interface) for smooth integration and functionality. Plus, it’s GDPR- (General Data Protection Regulation) compliant, so you can be confident that your business’s and customers’ information is protected, no matter what. 

5. Agile 

Used by more than 15,000 business entrepreneurs, marketing experts, and more, Agile is one of the industry’s leading all-in-one CRM solutions. 

This software enables the automation of several different facets of marketing and sales work, in addition to customer service and relationship management. With their high-quality security, you can be confident that neither your company nor your customers’ data will be leaked, which will ultimately enhance your brand’s trustworthiness. 

Agile’s primary features are divided into the following categories:

  • Sales: Keep track of pending deals and contact data all in one place. You can also manage your projects with easy-to-use drag and drop lists, increase employee productivity with gamification, schedule appointments, and speed up communications with one-click calls. 
  • Marketing: Ensure the best possible customer experience and high conversion rates with Agile’s landing page templates, automated marketing workflows, and social media integration. These tools work for email and SMS marketing, as well. 
  • Service: To help you keep up with your business’s reputation with customers, Agile will equip you with a helpdesk, customer feedback forms, and a self-service portal. You can also prioritize customer inquiries and service tickets automatically and speed up team responses with canned responses. 

Agile CRM can be integrated into several different applications and platforms, including Google apps, Facebook, Twitter, and more. It’s available for free for up to ten users and will have you selling and marketing “like the Fortune 500.”

6. Insightly

Prioritize customer relationships and satisfaction above everything else when working with Insightly’s free CRM. Over the years, surveys have repeatedly shown that customers who feel undervalued by a company will likely cease doing business with the company and tell others about their negative experience. 

Insightly aims to reduce the probability of poor customer relationships and optimize your staff’s service, communication, and workflow instead. 

To accomplish this, the company offers a “unified CRM” where all your staff can access consumer data in one place. This allows you to streamline inquiry and ticket responses, as well as marketing outreach. 

They offer marketing content design tools, along with testing features, to ensure your content is well-received and able to convert reliably. You’ll also be able to monitor your campaign’s progress and ROI thanks to Insightly’s data analytics and reporting. 

Finally, this CRM ensures that you retain customer relationships even after the deal is closed, providing resources to check inventory, assign tasks, set marketing and sales milestones, and more.

Insightly is focused on providing an all-in-one solution for multifaceted customer relationship management across all industries. If you’re looking to build rapport and in-depth monitoring of your sales progress, Insightly may be the choice for you. 

You don’t have to fumble your way through cultivating and managing customer relationships any longer. With these free, easy-to-use tools, you can generate more leads, improve your marketing and conversion success, and increase staff productivity with little to no effort. 

Choose one of these best free CRM for small business that works best for you and your team and watch your traffic and revenue grow in no time. 

]]>
https://fivehundredplus.com/best-free-crm-for-small-business/feed/ 0
7 Best Free Email Service Providers for Small Businesses https://fivehundredplus.com/best-free-email-providers-for-small-business/ https://fivehundredplus.com/best-free-email-providers-for-small-business/#respond Mon, 16 Nov 2020 18:57:26 +0000 https://fivehundredplus.com/?p=159 Choosing an email service provider is a crucial step for all business owners. In today’s digital world, businesses rely on email for everything from marketing campaigns for prospective clients to collaborations with outside vendors to routine communications with employees. It’s essential to have all your employees use the same email service to minimize confusion for customers and streamline internal communications and training.

This article will go over the features you should look for when choosing a free professional email address and review some of today’s best email service options for small businesses. 

Key Features

Every business will have its own particular needs, but here are a few features that every good email service provider should offer. 

Spam Filter

Office workers can receive hundreds of emails a day, and sorting through spam and junk mail is demoralizing and a waste of time. Make sure that your business’s email provider has an effective spam filter to ensure efficient office communications. 

Reliability 

There’s nothing more frustrating than software that consistently crashes or otherwise fails to perform. If your email service is often down, you will lose opportunities to connect with clients, so you should choose a reliable provider that resolves issues quickly.

Reputation

Often, new clients will contact you for the first time over email, so it is vital to make a good impression. If a client notices that your email provider is low quality or outdated, it may deter them from doing business with you.  

Security

You want your clients to trust that any information they exchange with you over email is kept secure. Look for a provider that is well versed in issues of online security and virus protection, particularly if your business deals with confidential client details. 

User Friendliness

You can cut back on time and resources spent training new employees if you choose an email system that is exceptionally intuitive and user-friendly. It will streamline your processes as your business grows. 

Integration

In the same vein, it helps to choose an email provider that integrates well with systems you already have in place, or that comes with its own suite of additional services, such as calendar, document, notes, and project management applications. Doing so will keep your business consistent across all platforms and will aid in employee training. 

Storage & Archive

Any business must keep a detailed record of its communications, which means that you should be sure to choose an email provider that gives you plenty of storage and archiving options. It’s also helpful to have a strong organization system within the platform, such as folders or labels, to find information quickly. 

Advanced Features

There are many additional features that email providers offer that are helpful for businesses. These include forwarding capabilities, the ability to “unsend” emails, the ability to schedule emails to be sent at a particular time in the future, and more. 

Our Picks For Best Free Email Service Providers 

Let’s look at the seven best options for free professional email addresses for small businesses today.

  1.  Gmail

With over 1.5 billion users worldwide, it should be no surprise that Gmail is at the top of our list. First launched in 2004, Google’s email service comes close to being perfect in many ways. It is incredibly intuitive and easy to use and has endless options for customization. It also has a two-step verification system and a powerful spam filter, protecting and streamlining your accounts. 

Gmail’s accompanying Google suite is a significant advantage. With a Gmail account, your business will have access to other Google applications such as Drive, Docs, Sheets, Calendar, and much more. New employees are likely to have already used Google systems in the past, which may cut back on training time. 

Gmail has instant messaging and video call functions and advanced features such as smart replies and the ability to unsend an email. 

Gmail offers a free account option with up to 15 GB of storage space. However, businesses may find it wise to upgrade to even the most basic paid plan, which gives you double the storage space and the option for a custom domain name. Paid plans start at $6 a month, and there is an option for a free trial period. 

One downside to Gmail is that some users may find its organization system, making it necessary to create custom labels, confusing. Overall, though, Gmail is an incredibly reliable and high-quality option for your business. 

Pros

  • Easy to use, reliable, and popular 
  • Both a free version and affordable business plans
  • Access to the rest of the Google suite 

Cons

  • Unusual organization system 
  • May be hard to find a free email address with so many users 
  1. Outlook.com

The first thing to know about Outlook.com is that it is a separate service from the Microsoft Outlook software that is part of the Office 365 system. While this desktop software is useful in its own right, Outlook.com is a valuable free option for business email addresses. 

A free Outlook.com email address will give you 15 GB of storage. It has a powerful spam filter and advanced filtering features, Clutter and Focus, that automatically sort your emails based on priority. You also can retrieve deleted emails. 

Outlook.com has a two-step verification process, so it is very secure. It is highly integrative with many different software and systems, including other Microsoft suite applications, and uses Skype for instant messaging. It is easy to download and use and features a more standard organization system than that of Gmail. 

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Reliable and secure
  • Advanced organization features 

Cons

  • Can be confusing to distinguish between Outlook.com and Microsoft Outlook
  • The free account has large ads that take up space on your screen 
  1. Zoho

For an email service specifically designed for small businesses, look no further than Zoho. Its free plan provides service for up to 25 members, with up to 5 GB of storage per user, which is plenty for most small businesses. It also offers custom domain names as well as spam filters and antivirus protection. 

Zoho comes with its own business-friendly suite, including applications for calendar, documents, and tasks. It is easy to use and is entirely advertisement-free. 

Pros

  • No advertisements, even with the free plan
  • Integrates with its own creative suite
  • Custom domain names available

Cons

  • Limited storage space 
  • The free plan lacks advanced features such as forwarding and offline access
  1. GMX

GMX is another excellent option for a small business email provider. You can register up to ten free email addresses for your business, all with unlimited storage. A small provider, GMX only has roughly 11 million users, which means it’s not difficult to find a unique email address. 

GMX doesn’t offer the two-step verification standard in other email providers, meaning it is easier to hack into your accounts. However, GMX does provide a reliable spam filter as well as virus protection. 

Pros

  • Unlimited storage space
  • Solid spam filter and virus protection
  • Free access to mobile apps

Cons

  • No two-step verification 
  • A smaller company can translate to a lack of customer support and decreased reliability 
  1. ProtonMail

If privacy and security on the Internet are of top concern to you, look into ProtonMail as your business’s email platform. Based in Switzerland, ProtonMail is end-to-end encrypted, making it impossible for outsiders to read your email’s contents. ProtonMail also doesn’t require a name or phone number when you create an account, so you can be sure your privacy is paramount. 

Unfortunately, ProtonMail doesn’t provide nearly as much data capacity as other platforms. Its free plan gets you 500 MB of storage and a limit of 150 emails a day and doesn’t provide folders or other organizational tools for your inbox. However, its Plus account is affordable ($5 a month) and gives you 5 GB of storage and 1,000 emails a day, as well as a custom domain name. 

Pros

  • Fantastic privacy and security
  • A good tool to have in addition to other email accounts
  • Mobile app available 

Cons

  • End-to-end encryption means you can’t use it with non-ProtonMail addresses 
  • Limited storage 
  1. Yahoo Mail

As one of the oldest Internet companies around, some might consider Yahoo outdated; however, its business plan is affordable and has lots of perks (a free version is also available). The Verizon-owned platform now offers custom domain names, nearly unlimited storage, and the use of email aliases. It has a strong spam filter and a built-in calendar and notepad, as well as instant messaging. 

Yahoo’s main downfall is its history of major security breaches, the most recent being in 2017. 

Pros

  • Affordable business plan (just over $3 a month for one address, and the cost decreases as you add mailboxes) 
  • Custom domain names
  • A massive amount of storage

Cons

  • History of security breaches
  • Fewer organizational features than other major email platforms 
  1. Mail.com

A primary advantage of Mail.com is that it offers over 200 different free domain names, whereas most other email platforms require a paid plan to create a unique domain name. It has a reliable spam filter and antivirus protection, plus forwarding capabilities and an online calendar feature. 

Unfortunately, Mail.com loses points for its design, which can feel clunky and outdated compared to user-friendly domains like Gmail and Outlook.com. However, it is still a great choice for a free business email. 

Pros

  • Completely free
  • Choices for unique domain names
  • Mail Collector forwarding feature 

Cons

  • Annoying advertisements 
  • Not as attractive or user-friendly as other platforms 

Summary

Any of the above options meets the basic requirements for small business email providers. While you might get added perks and features with paid plans, you can easily set up free professional email addresses using any of these providers. 

]]>
https://fivehundredplus.com/best-free-email-providers-for-small-business/feed/ 0
7 Best Free WordPress Themes for Small Businesses https://fivehundredplus.com/best-wordpress-themes-for-small-business/ https://fivehundredplus.com/best-wordpress-themes-for-small-business/#respond Mon, 16 Nov 2020 18:54:15 +0000 https://fivehundredplus.com/?p=155 WordPress is the number one choice for developing new websites, and we’re not just talking blogs here. It’s no secret WordPress can offer a versatile platform for your online presence and can be tailored to any business need. The problem is, with so many theme options in the opensource universe, how do you pick the best free WordPress themes for small business? 

In this article, we’ll evaluate the seven popular free WordPress themes, and see how they can work for you. Before we get started, let’s go over some basics.

Basic Considerations

Matching your theme to your business model or product is a great place to start. By keeping a few points in mind before you dive into our review, you can find a unique, responsive theme without chasing deadends.

Supported Plugins

WordPress themes cater to a variety of businesses, and not every theme will support the same plugins. 

If you are setting up a virtual storefront, you’ll likely want to focus in on themes that support WooCommerce, the leading e-commerce plugin for 

WordPress. We’ll be sure to point out the themes in our review that offer WooCommerce support.

If you need support for a particular plugin, such as LiveChat, Constant Contact, or WPForms, you can always check in the theme developer’s documentation. 

Customization

Customization can be a double-edged sword. Creative types with some patience and a knack for computers will likely enjoy WordPress themes that offer enhanced customization. Provided, of course, they want to put the time and effort into using them.

Professional service companies, on the other hand, are less concerned about enhanced customization, and more focused on ease of use and deployment. These types of businesses, as well as online retailers, will enjoy working with the more streamlined themes in our list.

Even if you’re not an aspiring web developer, all the themes in our review will offer enough customization to give your site a look all of it’s own.

Support

You’ll want to consider the level of documentation and support that are available for your chosen theme. Themes that enjoy wide use have an extensive user base that can help you on your way to creating an attractive, useful WordPress site. 

Beware of themes that are light on both users and documentation. When using free themes, these are your two best options when you have questions. Support from the themes developer is usually only available with a paid upgrade.

Free WordPress Themes

Now that you have a general idea of what to look for, let’s dive into the best free WordPress themes for small business.

Neve

Neve by the folks at Themeisle is our number one choice for user customization. Neve is an ideal theme for aspiring web developers who are willing to take the time to manage their sites look to the last detail. If you are looking for a fast-loading, highly-customizable WordPress theme for your business, Neve is for you. 

Although Neve has a ton of advanced customizations, it isn’t too advanced for the beginner. Users who opt-out of the advanced options will still wind up with a clean, responsive theme without tinkering with the advanced options. Navigation to the specific page elements is easy thanks to point-and-click navigation in the preview pane.

One complaint we had about Neve was its lack of mobile settings. Neve is one of the few themes we worked with that didn’t have user-configured mobile attributes. 

Neve will appear more to the creative type, who want to manage every visual detail. While it is ideal for blogs, galleries, and other creative content, Neve also features WooCommerce compatibility. Neve is a top choice for anyone seeking the ultimate in customization, regardless of their application.

Pros:

  • Intuitive user interface 
  • Animated menus and buttons
  • WooCommerce Compatible
  • SEO and AMP optimized

Cons:

  •  Some users may find Neve’s features too much
  • No sticky headers

Astra

Astra has over one million installations, making it the most popular WordPress theme ever. Astra is highly customizable, allowing users to customize typography, sitewide color schemes, and add their custom logo.

Users will find a variety of header options in the free version but will need to spring for the Pro version to make use of advanced options like sticky headers and background images. Footers provide adequate space for four widgets, menus, and custom text.

The free version includes access to over 700 Google fonts. If you can’t find the perfect font, Astra allows users to import their custom fonts via a simple plugin. 

For those who want to get their site up quickly, Astra offers free starter sites. Organized by category, these free templates can give you a jump start on building the perfect design for your business. 

Astra uses schema markups to fine-tune your SEO, mapping all the relevant schemas for you. Just populate a few fields to help your site index properly in relevant searches.

Unfortunately, those looking for WooCommerce support will need to upgrade to the Pro version.

Pros:

  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Plenty of customizations
  • Demo themes

Cons:

  • No WooCommerce support with the free version

Sydney

The folks at aThemes.com wanted to create a WordPress theme with all the design elements needed to create a professional-looking website, all in an easy to use package. The result was Sydney, a theme ideal for the blogger or content creator looking for a unique setting to showcase their work.

Beginners and advanced users alike will find Sydney easy to use. This is thanks to a block-style interface, which will be familiar to users with even modest design experience. 

The free version allows for unique header customizations, including slide shows, background images, and sticky menus. The footer provides space for up to four widgets of your choosing. With additional features like Sydney’s parallax background images, social plugins, and language translation capabilities, Sydney packs a lot of features into their free version. 

Unfortunately, for those looking for e-commerce support, you’ll need to spring for the full version of Sydney. 

Pros:

  • Smooth animations and effects
  • Highly customizable
  • Fast loading and responsive

Cons:

  •  Limited SEO functionality
  • No WooCommerce support in the free version

Spacious

Spacious is an excellent theme for those just starting on their WordPress journey. Beginners will enjoy it’s ease of use, while still providing compatibility with a variety of plugins and page builders. 

The menu system makes customization easy with a relatively flat and intuitive menu. Users can easily adjust the site’s color scheme, layout, and typography in just a few clicks. Spacious also includes nice aesthetic touches, like sticky menus and slideshows, to give your site a professional look.

Spacious is an excellent choice for the beginning to intermediate WordPress developer. It’s a business theme that is easy to deploy, yet supports a wide variety of needs. From the artist looking to display their portfolio to the retailer looking to create an online presence, Spacious has you covered.

Pros:

  • Intuitive menu options
  • Ease of use
  • Translation support
  • E-commerce ready

Cons:

  • Limited customization
  • Limited SEO support

OceanWP

OceanWP by athemes.com provides businesses with a fast, responsive theme offering extensive customization. For those interested in e-commerce, OceanWP has developed a host of unique extensions for WooCommerce, all included in the free version.

The WooCommerce enhancement includes:

  • Native cart pop-up to increase conversion rate
  • Floating Add to Cart bar
  • Off-canvas item filter

While heavy on advanced features, OceanWP still makes it easy for beginners to develop a professional-looking website. By using the import function, users can build their site from several prebuilt themes. If you choose to create your site from the ground up, OceanWP is compatible with many page builders, including Elementor and Beaver Builder.

OceanWP is ideal for business users looking for extensive customization with built-in WooCommerce support. With over three million installations, OceanWP is fast becoming one of the most popular business WordPress themes available.

Pros

  • Extensive customization
  • WooCommerce support and enhancements
  • Translation ready

Cons

  • Customization options may overwhelm beginners

Envo Storefront

The team at EnvoThemes decided they wanted to develop a free, WooCommerce optimized theme. The result was EnvoStorefront, a WordPress theme that caters specifically to online retailers. 

Envo Storefront is all about e-commerce. Users can organize their storefronts easily, customizing headers, columns, and other layout features themselves, or by using the theme importer. Envo Storefront also supports a wide range of page builders, meaning advanced users will have plenty of choices in editing software.

Envo Storefront is an excellent theme for those focused on opening a virtual storefront with no hassle, WooCommerce support built-in. Unfortunately, you’ll need to upgrade to access advanced features such as off-canvas filters, Google fonts, and sticky menus.

Pros:

  • Easy installation
  • Optimized for WooCommerce
  • Ability to import demo themes

Cons:

  • Upgrade required for advanced features

Consult Street

Consult Street targets professional services companies, but can be customized for almost any business application. With plenty of layout options and WooCommerce support, Consult Street is a solid choice for a wide variety of businesses, not just consultants.

Users can showcase the content of their choice on customizable slider cards. These cards can feature available services, testimonials, or a portfolio, all in a visually appealing format. You can also choose from a variety of headers and footers to suit your business using a variety of page editors.

Consult street features robust layouts to display your products and services. Users can create portfolios, blogs, and product pages from scratch, or import one from many of the demo files for some additional inspiration. Overall, it’s an excellent choice for beginners and advanced users alike.

Pros:

  • Fast and responsive design
  • WooCommerce support
  • Can be customized for any business

Cons:

  • Limited use and reviews
  • Small user community

Conclusion

Choosing the best free WordPress themes for small business requires some planning. By considering your business’s needs, the level of customization you require, and the need for additional plugins, you’ll be able to select the WordPress theme that’s just right for your ability and business.

]]>
https://fivehundredplus.com/best-wordpress-themes-for-small-business/feed/ 0
The 7 Best Cloud Services for Small Business https://fivehundredplus.com/best-cloud-services-for-small-business/ https://fivehundredplus.com/best-cloud-services-for-small-business/#respond Mon, 16 Nov 2020 18:52:13 +0000 https://fivehundredplus.com/?p=152 We hear the words all the time. “It’s in the cloud.” They link to our smartphones and other computing devices. We send our most precious pictures and messages to them every day. Yet, for as much as our lives are connected to “the cloud,” most of us have little understanding of it, and even fewer know which cloud services work best for our professional needs.

Small businesses have unique requirements when it comes to storing and protecting data. Unlike large corporations with their own IT departments, small businesses must rely on cloud storage services providers to safeguard their data.

What is the Cloud?

It may seem like a strange question. However, it is surprising how many people use one who has no clue what it is. In short, cloud storage is a computing model that stores data on the internet through a service provider.

The customer pays a fee for storage space on their servers. The advantage is that the customer has secure access to their data while eliminating the need and the cost of having to set up their infrastructure. For a small business, it is an ideal setup.

What to Look for When Choosing a Service

There are several things that you consider when getting ready to pick a cloud storage provider. Selecting a cloud storage service is more than just having a place to place your data. The company you decide to put your trust in must have these features.

Data Center Setup  

Having more than one location for their servers is essential to security. During a server breach in one place, all data needs to be transferred quickly to another set of servers. Storage services that do not have this feature or who have slow transfers of data, can lose some or all of your data.

High Powered Computers 

Delays in accessing your data can not only cause you delays but cost you money. A cloud service with high-speed servers is a must. Make certain in your search for a cloud storage service, that they have the most updated and high quality servers.

Multi-layer Security

Security has to be through the entire system and not just limited to one part of the cloud system. The host, network, and physical setup require full security feature protection to ensure your data is secure. Check what security features they have installed at each of these levels.

Service Level Agreement 

Any cloud service worth its servers will have written agreements explaining their service, terms, and conditions. Pick a service that explains in detail what they do and does not provide. It is also essential to make sure that they have all their required certificates and licenses up-to-date.

Support 

Data storage is a highly complex business. If you are having difficulties with your service or have questions about what services they provide that will best fit your needs, easily accessible customer service is necessary.

Private server access 

There may be times when your business expands or that you will need to have extra security. In that circumstance, it will be important to have the option of having your own allocated server. A storage service has to be able to expand along with your business.

Disaster Preparedness

Unexpected events do happen. If your service is interrupted by a natural or manmade occurrence, you must have it transferred quickly to another server within your cloud storage network. Remember, your information has to remain secure at all times, so check that a potential provider has contingency plans in place.

Price

Small businesses must account for every dollar they spend. Depending on how many employees you have and your overall budget, finding the company that not only meets your financial needs as well as cloud storage needs

Which Ones are the Best?

We took the criteria into account and then cross-referenced it with the needs of small businesses. After examining what they had to offer, we decided that companies are the best cloud storage services for small businesses.

Amazon

It probably comes as no surprise that a company as large as Amazon and caters to small businesses has an excellent cloud storage service. Just like the variety of products you can get on Amazon, the choices they have for cloud storage is every bit as impressive. Not only do they offer options on storage capability, but also in payment methods as well, including “pay as you go.”

Amazon’s security is second to none and has great customer support services. With a company this massive, you can rest assured that all their legal papers, certificates, and standards are up to date. Other benefits include secure file-sharing, website hosting, mobile data backup, business apps hosting, and gaming.

Pros

  • Great Price
  • Cross-platform capability

Cons

  • Poor desktop application
  • Need to insert credit card number to set up an account

Dropbox Business

Dropbox is one of the most established and popular cloud storage services. They have millions of customers and are so confident in their services that they offer a 30-day free trial. Dropbox Business uses 256-bit AES and SSL/TLS encryption, which ensures your data is protected. 

Dropbox Business has many protection programs that will allow you to sync files and has a data recovery of up to 120 days if you accidentally delete the information you need. It is a little more expensive than some services, but it has everything that you would want.

Pros

  • Reliable
  • Easy to Use

Cons

  • Difficult file location tool
  • Cannot edit in real time

Google Cloud for Work/G Suite

Google is continuously working on services for its clients. Over the past several years, they have expanded their cloud storage services to make Google Cloud Work one of the best available. Of course, one of the significant advantages of using a Google Cloud for Work is that most of your employees are already using their services. 

Google offers excellent security and a competitive price at $12 per user per month. Along with syncing and file-sharing capabilities, The Google cloud allows you to work both on and offline. Coupled with excellent smartphone apps and support, Google Cloud for Work is a superb option.

Pros

  • Can integrate the use of Google Tools
  • Website creation tool

Cons

  • Communication tools with client are not strong
  • Only priced per user

Microsoft OneDrive for Business

When you have a company so tied to our digital lives as Microsoft, it is easy to incorporate cloud storage services, which they do with Microsoft OneDrive for Business. Microsoft’s main competitor in this space is Google, and they challenge Google aggressively, not only in service but in price. Microsoft charges a mere $5 per month per user, over 50% cheaper than Google. To upgrade to its premium services only cost $12.50 per user per month. 

Yet, even with the inexpensive price tag, Microsoft OneDrive offers incredible services. Every user gets 1TB in storage capacity and can store files as large as 15G. Syncing and sharing files is every bit as simple as Google, and it also gives you the option to edit files through browsers. Each license covers 5 PCs or Macs and up to 5 smartphones.

Pros

  • User friendly interface
  • Ability to access files from anywhere

Cons

  • Limited document size support
  • Limited offline access

OpenDrive

OpenDrive’s strength is its many services. It includes data management, project, workflow, and user management. OpenDrive also offers many of the standard services and provides 17 different ways to edit your files. Their most basic plan has 5GB of storage. 

However, their premium plan at $29.95 is pretty pricey. Yet, for that price, you get unlimited storage, unlimited file size, and unlimited speed. The complete program also offers three users per account. Their services may not be for everyone, but if you have more than the average amount of storage needs, OpenDrive is worth considering.

Pros

  • Good pricing
  • Excellent web interface

Cons

  • Difficult desktop interface
  • Difficult restore settings

SpiderOak

If your only concern is complete security and anonymity for both you and your clients, then SpiderOak should be on your list. This data storage service has a “zero-knowledge policy. Their customers get full privacy, full control, and absolutely no knowledge of the host. 

For advanced business requirements, SpiderOak developed an excellent directory integration system. They offer both basic and premium packages for mid-range sized companies. Basic packages start at just $60 per year per user. Their premium services are more expensive, but their security is difficult to beat if you handle extremely sensitive data.  

Pros

  • Zero knowledge security policy
  • Free account for up to 2G storage

Cons

  • No hard copy backup service
  • Can slow down your computer

Syncplicity

If you have sensitive data and need to limit access to that data, not only by outside breaches but also by your employees, Syncplicity is a good choice. Syncplicity offers storage accessible through multiple platforms and can share data over an ultra-secure network, and the interface is straightforward. 

However, if you want to allow access to your data by just a select few in your business, Syncplicity has developed unique avenues to do so. It offers strict usage reporting to enable you to see exactly who and when someone accessed sensitive information. It also allows administrators to implement policies and controls. 

Pros

  • Ability to share files with clients online
  • Ability to use different platforms

Cons

  • Can operate sluggishly
  • Expensive

Final Word

Go through your full inventory of needs. Account for all the data storage you will require, the security level you want for your business, and the amount of data transfer and file sharing done through in-house and mobile devices. 

Once you have made a full accounting and checked every box, then do your research. Remember, a cloud storage service does not just hold your data, but your entire business.

]]>
https://fivehundredplus.com/best-cloud-services-for-small-business/feed/ 0
7 Best Website Hosting Services for Small Businesses https://fivehundredplus.com/best-hosting-for-small-business/ https://fivehundredplus.com/best-hosting-for-small-business/#respond Mon, 16 Nov 2020 18:42:51 +0000 https://fivehundredplus.com/?p=146 Choosing the best website for a small business depends on many factors, from whether you want a shared hosting service or a private one and how much experience you have with building a website.

Some features, like uptime, load speed, and customer support, are more critical than others. Keep in mind that the more features these hosting companies offer, the more expensive they may be.

A good rule of thumb for choosing the right plan is that if your company has less than ten employees, a shared hosting plan is probably best. Decide whether you want a built-in website builder or if you may need more than one website.

A2 Hosting

A2 Hosting offers a choice between VPS hosting, dedicated servers, and shared hosting plans. They offer unlimited disk space and unmetered bandwidth. If you require speed, they have a “turbo server” option advertised as 20 times quicker than the average server speed.

Small businesses will appreciate the four different plans offered, including the Startup plan, which is ideal if you need hosting for only one website. The remaining plans have no site number limits.

The company has several SSL certificates, including:

  • Premium SSL
  • Single Site
  • Let’s Encrypt

A2 Hosting is an excellent option if you need fast load times for common platforms like OpenCart, Drupal, WordPress, Joomla, or Magento.

One of our favorite features: They offer support 24 hours a day, seven days a week via email, phone, and live chat. Their prices start as low as $2.99 a month for shared hosting.

Pros:

  • Developer-friendly server support for Ruby, Apache, Python, PHP, MySQL, and more
  • High-speed performance
  • 24/7/365 support team available by email, phone, and chat
  • All plans offer SSD storage space
  • Security features (including DDoS and malware attack protection)

Cons:

  • Only two data centers
  • No free domain option
  • Renewal rates almost double after the first purchase period

DreamHost

DreamHost, which WordPress endorses, offers small business owners a shared hosting plan, SEO recommendations in real-time, a drag-and-drop WordPress builder, and over 200 starter sizes.

The company plans also include unlimited email addresses, unmetered bandwidth, and a free SSL certificate. For those who don’t like WordPress, DreamHost also has its own website builder: Remixer.

One of their plans, DreamObjects, is aimed at small businesses that offer WordPress customization services or develop their own applications.

The VPS Business Plan is well-suited for small businesses as everything in the package is unlimited (except for storage, which maxes out at 60GB).

DreamHost also offers multiple billing options, though if you choose annual billing, you will get your first domain for free. One unique feature of their plans is Windows-based servers, which is a vital alternative to Linux.

Another great feature of choosing DreamHost is that they’re a green company, meaning they have a carbon-neutral HQ. They offer plans starting as low as $2.59 per month and boast inexpensive cloud hosting options (from $0.0075 to $0.08 per hour).

Pros:

  • Guaranteed 100% uptime
  • 97-day refund policy
  • Employee-owned
  • Wide range of plans

Cons:

  • No phone support
  • No malware protection

GoDaddy Business Hosting

GoDaddy is one of the most popular web hosting companies around. Their size allows them to also focus on their business hosting capabilities. They offer four business plans. The first plan, Launch, comes with 50 GB of storage, unmetered traffic, 2 GB RAM, and unlimited databases and websites.

Each plan also includes a standard SSL certificate, and the high-end plan, Expand, is well-suited for businesses with lots of photos or resources. Their web hosting services are also available for both Linux and Windows users.

The shared hosting plans don’t include a website builder, but they offer content management systems (like Drupal, WordPress, and Joomla) with drag-and-drop layout creation options and various template choices.

GoDaddy offers daily malware scans and backups, and for an additional fee, you can store your files in the cloud. Their prices start at $11.99 for the first year, then $19.99 to $59.99 a month after (depending on which plan you choose).

 Pros:

  • Specialized WordPress plans
  • 24/7/365 support by phone and live chat
  • Unlimited bandwidth (on all plans)
  • Lots of digital marketing tools

Cons:

  • Theme change results in loss of content
  • No cPanel access
  • Limited money-back guarantee

HostGator

HostGator began as a domain registration service before branching out into web hosting services. This company is ideal for small business owners who are beginners in creating websites. They offer free site transfers for new customers and a drag-and-drop builder that lets you choose from various themes to create a professional site with ease.

Customer support and satisfaction are excellent at HostGator, with a 45-day money-back guarantee and tech support available 24/7/364 via live chat or phone.

HostGator provides unlimited disk space and unmetered bandwidth. If you choose a WordPress plan, you also get a global CDN and a free SSL certificate. Plans start at $2.75 per month.

Pros:

  • One-month credit if uptime drops below 99.90%
  • Shared hosting plans are budget-friendly
  • Windows servers
  • Free domain name
  • Unlimited email accounts

Cons:

  • Pages sometimes have a slow load speed
  • Low prices require a three-year contract
  • Some services (like backups) require additional fees

Hostinger

Hostinger is an employee-owned company in Lithuania that offers domain registration services as well as web hosting. All of their plans include a free SSL certificate, and many of them offer unlimited websites, email accounts, and bandwidth.

Introductory prices (starting at $0.99 per month) increase after the first year, but they still offer some of the most affordable options around and are upfront about their pricing.

The best plan for small businesses is their Business plan, which offers unlimited databases, websites, and bandwidth with 30 GB SSD disk space starting at $3.99 per month.

Their WordPress sites include Jetpack but have limited disk space (options range from 20 to 140 GB, depending on your plan). All plans include backups, ranging from daily to weekly, and they offer 24/7/365 tech support via live chat.

Pros:

  • Drag-and-drop website editor
  • Transparent pricing
  • Optimized servers for WordPress
  • Free domain name
  • Includes email accounts
  • Uptime guarantee of 99.9%

Cons:

  • No discounts if you pay monthly
  • Must be logged in for live chat support
  • No cPanel access
  • Website builder is separate

InMotion Hosting

InMotion Hosting offers small business owners a wide range of hosting options, including dedicated, WordPress, VPS, and shared, all for reasonable prices. Their cheapest plan at $2.49 per month includes unlimited bandwidth, one website, 10 GB of SSD storage, and a free website builder.

The company’s custom-designed UltraStack servers allow for enhanced speed, faster load times, and optimized server-side caching. How much disk space you get will vary by plan.

If you opt for one of their shared hosting plans, you can choose between WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal in addition to over 400 software packages (plus an installer to get them set up).

A bonus: Their web hosting services integrate well with external utilities like Google Apps. This external integration increases flexibility and is excellent for small business owners with limited technical knowledge.

The company offers three shared hosting plans. The basic plan includes two websites, the second plan can host six websites, and their top plan can host an unlimited number of sites.

Pros:

  • 90-day money-back guarantee (30 days for shared plans)
  • Over 300 available apps
  • Expertly designed custom WordPress sites
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Free domain name
  • Free website builder
  • Unlimited email accounts
  • 24/7 customer support

Cons:

  • Extra cost for data backups
  • Intermittent slow loading speeds
  • Introductory pricing is only good for two years

SiteGround

SiteGround, which is recommended by WordPress, boasts over 2,000,000 domains. They feature Google cloud-based services, including scalable cloud hosting, managed WordPress, basic hosting, and high-performance WooCommerce hosting.

All of their plans include a CDN, unmetered traffic, free SSL certificates, and unlimited databases. Their introductory StartUp plan, $6.99 per month, comes with unmetered traffic, free SSL, 10 GB of webspace, and 10,000 visits per month. You also get free email, free CDN, and a daily backup.

The GrowBig plan is a bestseller. This plan offers 20 GB of webspace, unlimited websites, and up to 25,000 visits per month, starting at a discounted price of $9.99 per month.

Managed cloud is another service you can choose, starting at $80 per month for three CPU cores, 5 TB data transfer, 6 GB of memory, and 40 GB of SSD space.

SiteGround offers a free drag-and-drop website builder along with one-click installs and automated updates for CMSs such as Drupal and Joomla. With an uptime of 99.98%, your site will only be down for an average of one minute per week.

Pros:

  • Free FTP accounts
  • Fast SSD storage
  • Weebly website builder
  • WordPress hosting
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Free website builder
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons:

  • No free domain name
  • Prices are more expensive than other sites
  • Low introductory rates increase after the first year

The best website hosting for small businesses varies based on your needs. Each of these companies offers various plans that work for technology beginners to the more advanced webpage creator.

]]>
https://fivehundredplus.com/best-hosting-for-small-business/feed/ 0