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Business special: The best free tools for SMEs

Free small business software guide

Mailing List Management: PoMMO

PoMMO (Post-Modern Mailing Management) is an open-source mailing list manager with an attractive and easy-to-understand interface. It uses templates to control the look and feel of subscription forms, so you can match them to the look of your website.

While Mailman is designed for sending standardised messages to a list, PoMMO offers handy personalisation capabilities that make it easy to customise outgoing messages, such as adding a customer name.

You can collect information about list members in customisable data fields. Then you can use these fields to set up list groups. You can send a different message to each group, useful if you have product lines that appeal to widely varying customer interests.

This app is fairly easy to install, assuming you know how to install software on your web server. If not, you may require assistance. Just extract the PoMMo zip file into its components, then upload them to a directory on your web server. You'll need to configure a PHP file and set up a MySQL database before you complete the installation.

To learn more, you can take PoMMo for a test drive using the online demo.

Business Plan Workshop: CIT Small Business Lending Corporation

If you're starting up a new business or expanding your existing business, you'll need a business plan. It's required by banks and most other sources of finance.

In your plan you must outline a workable business model. You need to answer key questions about the purpose of the business: What will it do and how will it earn money? In particular, you'll need to explain how your business will generate enough cash to pay back the money required for expansion or startup.

CIT Small Business Lending Corporation offers a free, online multimedia tutorial in two parts, which explains how you should develop your business plan. It includes a list of items which should be discussed in your plan. There's also a useful glossary of terms to help you decipher financial jargon.

This mini-course uses straightforward explanations that can be understood by the business neophyte. Someone with more experience may find it useful as a business plan refresher.

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