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Buyer Beware! There’s Always Freeware

Finding a freeware that meets your needs can be like hitting the jackpot.

Are you in the process of putting together the nuts and bolts of a new nonprofit or small business? Or do you have an existing enterprise that has been in existence for a while, and now you find yourself wanting to branch out in new directions? Either of these scenarios will likely cause you to examine what you’re trying to do from the perspective of what technology is required to bring your goals into fruition.


Particularly for small business startups, the prospect of investing what is probably all too scarce operating capital into technology purchases can be an overwhelming prospect. Gone are the days when a new entrepreneur could venture into the business world armed with little more than a phone, an adding machine, and a typewriter. Our society has become one that’s obsessed with information, and our businesses take this passion for data to a whole other level. Collecting, maintaining, disseminating, and protecting information is something business owners need to approach with a highly focused intentionality, rather than trying to play catchup once the wheels are rolling.


One of the primary areas of technology research in the small business realm needs to be along the lines of determining specifically what types of software are required to support the critical components of day-to-day operations. In light of the fact that business owners are also grappling with a myriad of other puzzles to solve – everything from locating office space to obtaining necessary licensing and permits – the temptation can be very strong to look for the “quick and easy” way out when it comes to software.


For the fledgling entrepreneur struggling to pull all the pieces together, the prospect of purchasing software often occurs as a by-product of the mindset, “This will take care of all my problems”. As anyone who has ever struggled with a counterintuitive installation wizard knows, sometimes software is the beginning of problems. Truth be told, the bugs are usually worked out in reasonably short order, but taking on a new software brings with it fresh demands: a sometimes steep learning curve, deciphering what’s required to obtain support, and determining how many instances of the software need to be installed throughout the organization, among others.


The good news for someone in the process of starting or growing their business is that there are often better alternatives to the common practice of purchasing new software. Depending on what you’re looking to do, you may be amazed to discover that there exists an extensive array of both shareware and freeware to address a staggering number of applications. From graphic design to audio recording, from word processing to video editing, new shareware and freeware products continue to emerge in a seemingly endless stream. Either of these can present an attractive option for those a bit gun-shy about a major software purchase.


Shareware has many of the same attributes as standard purchased software, but it essentially permits a user to download and use it free of charge, with the understanding that they will pay a purchase price should they decide to keep it. Having the option to “test drive” new software can help to mitigate the sticker shock when it comes time to finalize the purchase, and there’s always the option to let the trial period expire and not move forward with buying.


In many ways, freeware is an even more attractive alternative if you’re unsure what you need. Freeware is copyrighted by its creator, but is distributed on the internet free of charge for anyone to download, install, and use as they please. As strange as it may seem, many freeware options are as feature laden as the for-purchase ones, and the benefit of no financial outlay for the use of them is a compelling feature. Best of all, many freeware downloads are supported by robust communities of users who generally congregate on the product owner’s website to interact with each other.


A user community can be incredibly beneficial for learning the functionality of the freeware, resolving installation and system issues, and for discovering shortcuts and hacks to get the fullest possible potential from it. Because these communities are comprised of enthusiasts who are inspired by the attributes of the freeware, members will usually happily give of their time and insight to help new users overcome the learning curve and to help grow the community even further. Some freeware developers even present them in an “open code” format in which those with coding expertise can make their own personal tweaks to the functionality of the programming and make updates to correct bugs.


If you’ve been hesitating about a major software purchase, do some investigation to see what shareware and freeware options might exist. To avoid any possibility of virus or malware issues, always be careful to research the legitimacy of websites prior to downloading anything, but give yourself the luxury to experiment a little once you know you’re dealing with a download from a reputable source. Finding a freeware that meets your needs can be like hitting the jackpot, enabling you to download as many iterations as you need throughout your organization. This can be a massive cost savings for your business, eliminating the need to purchase multiple licenses to ensure that all team members have access.


There may not be such a thing as a free lunch, but freeware can definitely give you powerful, dependable tools for your business without the fear of having made an ill-considered investment in something that turns out to be just bells and whistles.

 

Maybe you've been struggling to find something that works with your budget. If so, let us help. We want to help you reach your goals. Contact us today at info@valorexcel.com or call 240-329-9387.


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