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The five best business freebies of 2012

Who says you have to spend money to make money? These five goodies can improve your bottom line without even touching your budget.

The best things in life are free: hugs, moonlit nights, belly laughs.

But the best things in business always cost, right? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Turns out there are plenty of great business freebies, and I'm not just talking about the swag bags you get for attending a $3,000 conference. I mean actual, honest-to-goodness free stuff, like apps and services built to help small-biz folks boost their productivity--and hopefully their bottom lines.

Below I've rounded up my five favorite business freebies from the past year.

1. Free and easy conference calling from Speek

Resolve to make 2013 the year that conference calls are no longer a giant pain in the butt. Speek can help with that; this free service (a Pro version will come later) gives you a custom Web address that attendees uses to bring people onto your call--complete with a live call-page for sharing files, swap messages, and so on.

2. Free Sharepoint-style workspace from Kerio

Most businesses would benefit from a shared workspace, a place to keep project-related messages, documents, and collaboration organized and accessible. Can't afford Microsoft SharePoint? Try Kerio Workspace Starter Edition, which includes 10GB of shared storage and support for unlimited users and workspaces.

3. Free mileage tracking from TripLog

Do you get paid by the mile? Whether it's your employer footing the bill or the IRS giving you a tax break, you need a way to track your trips. Free app TripLog GPS Mileage Tracker lives up to its name by leveraging your smartphone's GPS to monitor your driving, record your mileage, and generate IRS-ready trip reports.

4. Free domain name and Web hosting from Google

Setting up shop on the Web? Google makes it cheap and easy by offering a free year of Web hosting, including a custom domain name. You also get a complete Web site courtesy of Intuit's site-building service. After the first year, each additional year costs a mere $6.99. Those rates won't break anybody's bank.

5. Free online meetings and remote access from TeamViewer

Although LogMeIn Free remains my go-to tool when I need remote access to my own PC, the newly updated TeamViewer 8 ups the ante with more features. You can use it not just for remote access, but also to host online meetings. Oh, and it's not limited to PCs, either: TeamViewer is available for Android, iOS, and Windows 8/RT as well.

Technically, it's free "for private use" only, but I won't tell if you won't. (Needless to say, the idea behind the free version is to entice you to upgrade to a pro-level account, which offers even more business amenities. So the company clearly wants you to make use of the free version, at least initially.)

Did you discover any other great business freebies in 2012? Tell me about them down below, in the comments area.


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