Voices

Trey Bowles: My 18 Favorite Free Tools to Help You Get Through the Coronavirus Crisis

Here are tools to make remote work easier and more productive. But if you just need to "Chill the Flip Out," Voices columnist Trey Bowles recommends Calm.

I saw this wonderful article at Entrepreneur.com a few days ago, and I wanted to pass along a few of the tools that I like the best. What started out as 65 Free Tools To Help has now become an article with 111 free tools and I am sure it will be growing daily.

Check out some of my favorites that we use in our business, and I’d love to see your favorites in the comments either here, or on Facebook, LinkedIn, or wherever you access this story.

I’ve separated these by category and these are just the ones that I use, make sure to check out the entire article to see if you can software or solutions that you would prefer:

Communications

Zoom: Free video conferencing tools for K-12 schools.

GoogleFree, premium version of its workplace video chat tool until July, to help businesses and schools working remotely due to coronavirus. Those features include having up to 250 participants per call, live streaming for up to 100,000 viewers within a domain, and the ability to record meetings and save them to Google Drive.

Slack: Free upgrades to paid plans for teams working on coronavirus pandemic research, response, or mitigation. Interested teams can email a special address to get this set up, and a consultation on how best to get started with remote collaboration.

Slack has always been a great way to communicate online across teams, employees, companies and social groups. However, now more than ever with remote workers proliferating the planet, slack can be an amazing way to stay connected, share information, have it stored for later access and integrate the tool with so many of other technologies you use. A few that I integrate include (Google Drive, Google Calendar , Zapier, Twitter, Asana, Hubspot, Gmail, Dropbox, Giphy, Google+ Hangouts, Evernote, Zoom)

Collaboration and Productivity

Dropbox: Free Dropbox Business and HelloSign Enterprise subscriptions for a three-month period to nonprofits and NGOs that are focused on fighting COVID-19. Organizations working to stop the virus or providing relief to those impacted are encouraged to apply.

Dropbox is a great solution for sharing content and documents in the cloud. Some people prefer Google Drive, but my advice is to pick one source and go all in. Having your content in 4–5 different locations is confusing and you tend to lose things. Everyone has their own preference on the solution to use, but I would encourage you once you pick a road, just stay with it and get everyone on your team to accept this solution and move forward.

Docusign: Free access to Docusign for managing electronic agreements.

Calendly: Free Zoom And GoToMeeting integrations for their online appointment scheduling software to help remote workers stay connected. These were previously Premium tier features and will be available through June 30th. Also Free premium plan access to teams working directly on COVID-19. *NOTECalendy is the tool we are using to operate our new Fast Start Mentor Program through the DEC Network. This is where we are directly connecting entrepreneurs/small businesses with mentors who can help remove obstacles and increase effective management of this coronavirus pandemic. You can sign up to be a part of the Fast Start Mentor Program here: Fast Start Signup

Evernote: Free sign up and access of Evernote Basic plan. Take notes. Keep a journal. Clip anything from the web. Evernote lets you store and share information quickly and securely.

Evernote is where I take all of my notes from every meeting, every picture, business card and every whiteboard I snap a shot of and store it here and then I can share it or integrate it with my slack accounts and have a great way to make sure I never have to transfer my handwritten notes to digital every again.


READ NEXT:  ‘So What Do I Do Now?’: Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide in the Age of the Coronavirus


Marketing

Hootsuite: Free access for Hootsuite Professional to small businesses and nonprofits until July 1st, 2020. Helping to manage social media, and stay connected with your customers and communities.

Hootsuite is a great tool to schedule, plan and post through multiple social media channels. I typically use this for Linkedin and Twitter content.

MailChimp: Free Standard accounts to eligible groups sending critical public health information about COVID-19 through June 30, 2020.

We have been using MailChimp for email sends for years and it offers a great way to quickly and effectively communicate with your customers.

Survey Monkey: Free questionnaire templates written by survey research experts to gather data/feedback from employees, customers and broader groups impacted by the coronavirus.

Survey Monkey is a great tool to quickly survey people, get information on how they are feeling, what changes you can make to your product/service that will be most beneficial to your customer-base and any other information you might want to know. Survey Monkey (like money other similar services) integrates well with mailchimp, google, and a slew of other services.

Adobe*: Free home access to Creative Cloud apps is available by request for students and educators until May 31, 2020. Adobe also offers free 90-day access to Adobe Connect for web conferencing until July 1, 2020.

Software support and security

1PasswordFree business accounts for the first 6 months. Manage your workforce from anywhere, and safely share logins and other important resources with remote workers.

I use mSecure myself, but I have set other people up on 1Password and it seems to be a great way to keep all of your passwords, username, and key information safe and in a place where you never have to forget it. Often if you use Chrome, other browsers, and even with my iPhone, I am often asked if I want my passwords and user name’s saved, but a designated password storage site works across platforms and has the ability to log in from anywhere.

Research and Development:

Qualtrics*: Free for all organizations to use Qualtrics Remote Work Pulse.

This is a great way to stay connected with your workforce and understand how they are feeling, what they need and get some quick quantitative analysis done on current culture and sense of overall employee morale.

Finance and Accounting

Expensify: Reimburse you up to $50 for essential goods and groceries purchased on your SNAP card.

I don’t use the SNAP card, but I do use Expensify. This is a great tool to track spending across the company and gives a quick and easy way to save receipts, submit expense reports and provide necessary evidence and data that is approved and recognized by the IRS.

Education

Linkedin: Free 16 learning courses that provide tips on how to stay productive, build relationships when you’re not face-to-face, use virtual meeting tools and balance family and work dynamics in a healthy way.

I used LinkedIn incessantly. This is one of the greatest ways to keep up with, track, and develop business networking in one location. There is great resources posted by people who tend to be a little bit more legitimate than you might find on Twitter or Facebook.

Epic*: Free remote access of its reading platform to elementary educators and librarians until June 30, 2020, with no credit card required. Students may access the company’s digital library, which has 35,000-plus books, read-to-me and audiobooks, videos and quizzes. Teachers and librarians can stay connected to their students by assigning books or collections and monitoring their progress.

This is a resource we just started using this past week with my kids. It has made a ton of difference in helping us get through the day.

General

Calm: Free resources from Calm to take care of our minds and stay grounded, including content hand-picked to support your mental and emotional wellness through this time.

This is a great tool for what I call CTFO time (Chill the Flip Out). This helps you stay centered, gives you time to pray if you are a person of faith and just take a break from the stress of everyday life…especially in the age of corona. Make sure you are taking the time for #coronacare.

 

Audible (Amazon): Free stories for kids of all ages to stream on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet. For as long as schools are closed, we’re open. Starting today, kids everywhere can instantly stream an incredible collection of stories, including titles across six different languages, that will help them continue dreaming, learning, and just being kids.

Overall, there is a constantly growing list on the entrepreneur.com article listed above. This is a great time to try premium versions of the free apps you use already. This way you can test to see which ones are worth spending money on and if those features improve your life enough to pay for.

Do your part 

I would encourage you to keep sharing information like this with those around you. Whether it be information on how to obtain funds through the SBA’s Disaster Relief Loan Assistance Program or information around accessing an “Entrepreneur’s Guide to Survival in The Age of Coronavirus.”
 
That includes a podcast (SwitchBacks: The Never Told Story of Entrepreneurs) with more information and a 30-, 60-, 90-day plan to practically manage your business through these tumultuous days of the coronavirus outbreak, as well as share content and contribute resources.

Let’s help each other as “neighbors” to ensure we are all doing our part to not only survive, but thrive during these uncertain times.

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R E A D   N E X T

Trey Bowles is a serial entrepreneur, social capitalist, and educator. Trey cofounded the Dallas Entrepreneur Center (DEC), a central location for entrepreneurs to learn how to start, build and grow b(...)

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