As a small business owner myself, I know exactly how much you can spend starting up a new business, particularly on all the software you need for graphic design packages, email packages, email marketing packages, spreadsheets etc. It's huge!
You start offA with your new business and you find you have a problem (you used to have an IT department to sort this out for you probably!) you do some research online and you notice all the appealing software tools you can buy - either with very large price tags (Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop for example), or you see lots of little ones which only cost say A 20. You end up in a buying frenzy. Well, I know I do.
However, after being self-employed for a number of years now, I have done so much research on the topic, I know exactly how to save money and get the best deals here are some tips I have learned along the way to help you save lots of money on buying software for use at home, for your kids, or for your business:
a) Open Source products - Open Source means that anyone can use the software and it can be downloaded for free. For example Open Office (version 3 currently) isA a great alternative to Microsoft Office and it's giant price tag. Open Office also features a PDF writer, which is a great alternative to Adobe Acrobat or Adobe PDF Writer.
b) Forums - there are endless forums online now, in area given market sector or niche you care to mention. I belong to one which helps web designers and small business owners developing their own websites with tips and shared downloads of software, expensive "internet marketing guru" e-books etc. It costs nothing to join and if you go straight to the Advanced Search Option and type in the name of the software or e-book you are looking for (relating to internet marketing on this forum), then click on Member Downloads, it will list all the software or e-books available with your search phrase.
I don't necessarily condone this behaviour of itself, but I do think most software manufacturers like Adobe or Microsoft charge the earth for products, and I think until they start offering more realistically affordable products, unfortunately, people will try their best to get copies of highly priced software such as theirs.
c) Student Software versions:A compare the price of the full version of Microsoft Office 10 (A 39.95) on a Student Software website vs the full price on somewhere like Amazon A 149.99 for an equivalent Home & Student version. You need to be careful that you are getting all the components of the Student package you need however. For example, I have noticed that Microsoft Outlook is often not included in the Student version, so you need to take care when purchasing if this is one of your software requirements.
d) Extended Trial Versions: you can often get trial downloads of software by Adobe, Microsoft and other leading software manufacturers/developers.
There are several different techniques you can find on places like YouTube which you can use to either remove the trial part of the download, or you can use a piece of software which stops the countdown clock on your software trial such as Time Stopper.
e) Discount Coupons & voucher codes: if you aren't a member of a student or teaching organisation, and you don't want to use a website you have never heard of before, the best option might be to search in Google for discount coupons or voucher codes + the name of the software you are looking for, or the name of the retailer you would like to use e.g. "voucher codes Amazon software". This will bring up a few good voucher code or discount code sites which will give you a link or a discount code to use on the your preferred retailer site. The discount codes are used at the checkout section of your purchase and remember to press UPDATE on the basket before you pay!
OEM software - BEWARE! There are many online websites offering cheap prices on OEM (basically own label or unbranded software produced by the original manufacturer). Often these sites will have nice pictures of the branded products, but you pay and you will be extremely disappointed when you are unable to download the software you have paid for, and unable to contact them for a refund!