As Luther Vandross and Janet Jackson famously sang back in 1992, “The best things in life are free”. Never has that sentiment been more pertinent than for the present reality of IT contractors and freelancers, when capital expenditure is under increasing pressure and rates are being squeezed left, right, and centre. How can a savvy contractor respond to this harsh environment while simultaneously seeking to grow their business and satisfy their demanding clients?
The good news is that, if you know where to look, there are hidden treasures waiting to be unearthed across the Internet that you can harness to build your business and impress your clients at the same time.
- Free conference calling: Are you constantly fighting for the use of the conference line in the office? Is your client paying hundreds of pounds for conference calling facilities? Side step the queues and impress your colleagues with your very own business conference line. Powwownow offers a dedicated 0844 conference number with a secure PIN for up to 50 simultaneous participants with no set up cost, no subscription charges, and no bridging costs for the chairperson. Each participant is simply charged 4.3p per minute +VAT for the entire call, simple as that. Powwownow also offers free call recording and free web conferencing, and you can even choose your on-hold music.
- Free 0845 number: If you are a freelancer, or working as part of a small consultancy, it can sometimes be difficult to approach large companies. You might have a respectable sounding business address with a virtual office in London but the mobile number on your company web page and business card shrieks “one man band” and that can be off-putting for large clients. So why not set up your very own 0845 number? Just0845Numbers has hundreds of free 0845 numbers available that can be directed straight to your office landline with no setup fees and no call charges.
- Free domain and web hosting: Do you cringe at the thought of paying for expensive domain and web hosting for your business? Getting British Business Online is a joint venture between Regus, Pearson, and Google in the UK to provide businesses of every type and size with a free .co.uk domain for 1 year, free easy-to-update website for 1 year, free email address @yourdomain, and free support. You can even get a free £50 AdWords voucher when you sign up to advertise your services online.
- Free business coaching: Whether you’re starting out as a contractor, or you’re a seasoned freelancer, there is always more to learn, and more ways to improve what you do and how you do it. Business coaching is the perfect way to enhance your prospects, of course, but face-to-face sessions can cost as much £100-£200 per hour. Horse’s Mouth offers an online alternative that is completely free of charge. Simply sign up to explore this vibrant community of anonymous mentors who want to “give something back” by sharing their combined years of experience in business and life.
Peter Roy is a freelance project manager and productivity consultant; he has used all of the services in this article to sustain and grow his business over the last 5 years.