We started this blog as we were trying to start a new business and discovered in order to have the tools we needed, the prevailing theory was that we needed to spend money. Lots of money. Thousands and thousands of dollars worth of money. We had an agressive business plan that required a customizeable and extensible CRM to be our system-of-record, a advanced phone system tied into it, and a powerful marketing engine that linked with both systems (CRM and marketing).
Dolla’ Dolla’ Bills Y’all…#
When we started shopping around for the systems that met our requirements we came to a very unwelcome realization: just the CRM component (Salesforce) alone was $1800 a year, per user. Ouch!
Think about that for a moment….
Let’s say you have a startup consisting of 3 people. You’re just getting started and you’re already stroking a check for $5,400 ($1,800 x 3) and you haven’t earned your first dollar yet.
You haven’t even bought business cards and you’re already past half-way to $10,000!
Keep in mind, we haven’t even gotten to the marketing system, security provider, phone system, or the rest of the things you need for a modern enterprise. It’s not an exaggeration to say you can easily find yourself with a small 3-person startup looking at $20,000-$30,000 annually just to have the basics for a small team of three people. At that price we’re talking new car money, and you have to pay it every year and it gets even more expensive as you add headcount as your company grows.
There’s an argument to be made that “Well, do you NEED those powerful systems? Can’t you do it in a simpler way?”.
Of course the answer is yes, but at the same time, chances are your competitors or existing players in your space already have and use these tools putting you at a disadvantage starting out if you don’t have comparable tools.
Would you feel comfortable going to war with a flintlock musket instead of the fully automatic assault rifles your competitors have? How come it’s so difficult for a startup or small business to get their hands on weapons-grade systems to help them succeed unless they’re willing to spend 3-and-a-half-boatloads of cash?
We personally don’t think you need to be spending that money if you don’t have too for one important reason:
There’s actually a world of perfectly functioning, totally enterprise-grade tools that are open-source (read: free) that you can install & run yourself that will allow you to have a fully functioning company that can perform all the things almost any modern company needs, both during it’s startup phase as well as in the future, and it can cost you $0 per month
This site exists to show you, through simple copy-paste step-by-step instructions, how to install and run these tools, all at a bare minimum of expense. We believe you should be able to get everyting you need per-person for less than $50 a month to run a business with the tools every business should have.
What We’re Going To Do#
Our core tutorials we’ll be laying out here will be free, but we will note when we think considering affordable non-open source solutions might be a better choice for a majority of businesses.
We’re going to show you how to do this with our fictional company: MegaBiz LLC.
We’re going to be focused on a few packages that pretty much every business needs in order to get started:
- Domain Name: Google Domains = GoDaddy equivalent
- Hosting: Google Compute Cloud = AWS equivalent
- CRM: SuiteCRM = SalesForce CRM/NetSuite CRM equivalent
- Email Server: Postal = Microsoft Exchange equivalent
- Marketing: Mautic = Bronto/Salesforce Marketing Cloud equivalent
- Website CMS: WordPress
- CDN: Cloudflare Free
- Image Optimization: Cloudinary
- Office Phone System: Asterisk w/ FreePBX = Avaya or 8X8 equivalent
Total: $0 per month (with Google Compute Cloud $300 free trial)
That. Being. Said#
There’s a few things we feel that need to always be working where it makes sense to venture outside the free open-source tooling, especially when starting/running a business. They are:.
- We need our data to be secure
- We need to be able to get to our email
- We need to be able to be called
- We need to be able to be paid and see the state of our finances
These are what we would equate to “business electricity”. Most businesses, sans electricity, don’t work very well. That system is so reliable (in most countries anyway) that when you flip the switch to turn on a light or an applicance you don’t wonder “Will this work today?”. We view the providers below as providers of services worth spending the money on so you can focus on your core business, because we believe very strongly that your data HAS to be secure. Your email HAS to work. Your phones HAVE to ring. You HAVE to be able to be paid and see your financials. Anything else and you’re running something more akin to a hobby than a company. The basics have to work. Always.
Per-User, Per Month:
- LastPass Indentity - $8 a user per month
- Cloudflare Access Premium - $5 a user per month
- GSuite Basic - $6 a user per month
- Cloudflare Pro - $20 a month
- Quickbooks Essentials - $25 a month
Total Per user: $19 per month, per user
All-In For 1 user: $64 per month (1 user)
So come join us as we show you how to get this all setup and within a few lessons you’ll be off and running!