Open Source - Why?

To run a business today --even a small one--you need technology. You need computers, smartphones, file storage, a website, and a whole host of other tech assets. So how do you afford it all with a budget that's smaller than small?

Some costs cannot be avoided, but you can get the tools you need without maxing out your credit line.A One of the easiest ways is to swap out expensive commercial software for open-source alternatives. The open-source community offers an array of programs that deliver professional-grade features without the bloated big-business price tag.

Adopting open-source solutions

Although open-source tools themselves are free, there are hidden costs you should be aware of. Whether you're starting from scratch or switching from an existing software tool to an open-source equivalent, there will be a learning curve to get comfortable with the new software. If you're transitioning from one tool to another, you may also need to find a way to convert or migrate data from your existing programs.

Also, most open-source projects have robust communities of supporters willing to help and share knowledge, but you won't have a vendor to call when something goes wrong. On a side note - as a small business do you think Microsoft will rush out a fix for you when you come across a bug in their software? Will they walk through a spreadsheet problem with you? Nope. Some open-source projects or IT companies do provide support for open-source tools for a fee. The biggest difference is that with commercial software, you have to pay for the software and pay again for support and maintenance. Maintenance costs around 20 percent of the list price per year which means you will be re-purchasing the software every 5 years, like it or not. With Open Source, you have a choice to pay or not, depending on what kind of support you need. There are many other small nusinesses out there to help you along.

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