Editor's note: "The First 90 Days" is a series about how to make 2016 a year of breakout growth for your business. Let us know how you're making the first 90 days count by joining the conversation on social media with the hashtag #Inc90Days.
If your company is like most, you're always looking for ways to do more with less.
Fortunately, there is billions of dollars in venture capital going to fund startups seeking rapid growth by giving you something valuable for free.
Of course those startups don't survive without a business model. Sometimes they make money by charging you for a premium version of their service after they get you hooked.
And sometimes they supplement that revenue stream by selling advertising to other businesses that want to reach you and your employees.
If you're like most business professionals, you want to make sure you can keep track of your calendar, do your accounting with little stress, save electronic files and get access to them anywhere, hold meetings when you're away from the office, and keep track of how big a bang you're getting from your social media marketing.
Though I have used only one of these services -- GoToMeeting -- the other four seem to offer strengths that outweigh their weaknesses.
1. Keep track of your calendar.
Do you need to know what you are doing today and for months into the future? If so, a free app like Google Calendar can help.
The main page of Google Calendar shows a list of your current meetings and the ones you have scheduled for the week ahead. You can use it to look at the schedule for future months and easily add or delete a new meeting. Google Calendar is not perfect -- for example, if can be difficult to use without a Gmail account.
But a free calendaring app can help you make sure you don't miss important meetings. And paying nothing for that kind of protection could be very valuable.
2. Manage your company's finances.
Most company owners don't want to waste time on accounting -- but they want to do it right.
To that end, they want accounting software that lets them save time while minimizing stress.
A free software service such as Wave Accounting can help achieve those aims. It offers users a simple dashboard divided into categories like Transactions, Invoices, Bills, Receipts and Reports.
Such software makes it easier to send out bills, track paid and unpaid invoices, back up data to protect against outages or cyberattacks, and produce reports such as balance sheets, income statements, and tax documents.
Not surprisingly, when you get something for free, you pay a price. Wave Accounting does not provide free customer service (it starts at $9 per month), its fees for payroll services start at $15 per month plus $4 per employee-month, and it uses advertisements to generate revenues.
But if you are willing to pay those prices, you can get accounting done for a fairly modest price.
3. Share documents on your desktop and mobile.
If you need to store, retrieve, and edit documents in collaboration with other people, a free service like Dropbox can help. Such services let you move large files around the world and share them with other people you work with on mobile and desktop devices.
Dropbox has its disadvantages. The company has the right to delete information from free, inactive accounts. Also, these accounts have been hacked.
If you use these services, do your best to encrypt your files.
4. Meet on the go.
If you need to connect to meetings when you're in a car or otherwise away from your office, GoToMeeting is an example of a free service that can keep you in the meeting loop and boost your productivity.
It's not the perfect solution, though. Sometimes, the service fails to load or cuts out in the middle of your virtual meeting.
5. Analyze your company's marketing effectiveness.
If you are using social media to market your business, it is helpful to know which of your messages are resonating with potential customers and which are not.
There are free social media marketing analysis tools that can help you with that. For example, Buffer produces reports on key statistics for tracking the engagement of users with marketing messages that your company posts on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.
Buffer has flaws -- it does not let companies view their Twitter feeds or directly interact with their followers.
But such free marketing analytics tools will help your business more than hurt it.
They say there's no such thing as a free lunch, but if these free services can help boost your company's productivity, you may be able to save enough money to give your people a free meal from time to time.