Using Open Source for Low Cost Small-Business Solutions

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LinkedIn has a new Question & Answers feature, so I thought I would post some of the answers I have shared within my LinkedIn network. Here is one on using free tools for business.

I provide pro-bono consulting for a really small relief charity. This has really forced me to think carefully about the best possible sollution at the lowest cost.

Recently, I was able to set them up with a full list management system, including sign up pages, list segmentation, auto-unsubscribe, subscribe-confirmation rule-based emails, etc. all for free. The software was included on their Linux based web hosting package.

Now days, most hosting services using the CPANEL client admin set up include a huge list of open-source web-based tools that are EASY to install (literally, two or three clicks) and with some technical skills, easy to customize.

They now have a fully functional direct-email tool that cost them $0 beyond what they already paid for hosting. So, while it may not give them profits, it certainly will strengthen their existing constituent and donor relationships, and potentially increase donation revenue.

You can find the full list of available software for free and read more at http://cpanel-host.com/fantastico/ It may not be enterprise level tools, but more than adequate for any small business or non-profit.

Most use databases that are compatible with industry standard MySQL or other databases, making upgrades easy, and customization possible with the right technical skills.

Feel free to post your own questions — I would be glad to get to them as time permits.

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