Free alternatives to Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 is well established as the leading office software suite. At just under £140 per user per year for the Business Premium edition, its not unreasonably priced especially compared with the stand alone desktop version at £250. However, if money is really tight and you need something free, what are the alternatives?

Google Docs, Sheets & Slides

Docs is a word processor, sheets is a spreadsheet and slides is a presentation program. The software is accessible online through a web browser or mobile device. Changes are saved automatically. Multiple users can work on the same document simultaneously. The software can open MS Office files and save in MS Office format.

Apache Open Office

Apache Open Office is an open source software suite comprising a word processor (Writer), a spreadsheet (Calc), presentation software (Impress), a database (Base) and a couple of other applications. It is a desktop only software package. It uses the Open Document Format (ODF) but can also open and save MS Office files.

Zoho Office Suite

Zoho is a web based online office suite similar to Google Docs, Sheets & Slides. It includes a word processor (Writer), spreadsheet (Sheet), presentation software (Show) and a selection of other applications.


LibreOffice and Open Office have a shared development history so the different application in the suite have the same names. Like Open Office, it is desktop only software. According to Wikipedia, it is the most actively developed free and open source office suite, with approximately 50 times the development activity of Open Office.


FreeOffice is another desktop only office suite developed by SoftMaker. It includes a word processor (TextMaker), spreadsheet (PlanMaker), and a presentation software (SoftMaker Presentations). This is commercially developed software with paid versions having more features and support, however, the free version has a high level of functionality.

The Benefits Of Having An Accountant

Why are accountants important to business?

A qualified accountant will help to keep your accounting records organised, ensure that your tax returns are completed accurately and on time, and provide you with business advice to help you grow your business. This means that you will meet your legal obligations with the tax authorities by the deadlines set out in law allowing you to relax knowing that this has been handled professionally. It takes years to qualify as an accountant which illustrates the complexity of accounting and tax regulations and why it is better to hire an accountant rather than try to do it yourself.

It will save you time

Being self employed means you have to handle everything in your business, your accounting, your marketing and other internal administration. In addition to this you also need to do some paid work! If you hire an accountant, you will be hiring someone who is expert in efficiently processing your accounting records, providing you with information about your business finances and preparing and submitting your tax returns in the correct format at the right time. This frees more of your time to work on your business or even just to relax!

Minimise your tax costs

We can look at your business and give advice on the most tax efficient way to run your business. For example, is it best to run your business as a sole trader/partnership or as a limited company? What is the best VAT scheme for you to use?

Avoiding fines from the tax authorities

When you are running your own business, what you want to do is focus on providing top class services to your own clients rather than worrying about tax deadlines and possible fines. We are already aware of the tax deadlines for your business and will plan to ensure that your tax returns are submitted ahead of time and prevent any penalties being issued.

Managing your business finances

We can keep your business records up to date and provide periodic snapshots of how your business is performing. This information can then inform future decisions about how you grow your business.

Credo North East

Credo North East are a utility consultancy based in Consett in County Durham. They procure gas, electricity and water supplies for small and medium size enterprises.

A dedicated account manager will provide a bespoke service to ensure that individual client needs are met.

They can carry out a bill validation audit to ensure that charges are correct and have particular expertise in assisting public sector organisations procure energy services.

They can help businesses ensure that they minimise their carbon footprint from energy consumption.

The company was formed in 2016 and is headed up by Steve Skipsey.

Chester le Street Business Association

Chester le Street Business Association is a business support group that has been operating in Chester le Street for a number of years.

They are a non-profit organisation whose aim is to foster positive and beneficial relations between local businesses, local government, police, residents and students in the Chester le Street area. It aims to promote member businesses and provide a voice for businesses in the area.

Membership is free and is open to all businesses within the local area.

Member businesses can have a listing for their business added to the association’s website free of charge.

Durham Business Club and Durham Business Group

Durham Business Club is an independent local business support association serving County Durham. They provide business networking opportunities, apprenticeships for young people and other business support services.

They have regular monthly meetings and business events giving the opportunity to meet with other business people to share knowledge and experience. They also represent the views of local businesses to local and national government.

Durham Business Club is part of Durham Business Group which also comprises Durham Training and Durham Office Services.

The annual subscription for the club brings the following benefits:

Regular monthly networking meetings.
Password access to the members area of the website providing a variety of information resources.
Directory of members.
A forum.
Monthly e-newsletters.
Quarterly business magazine.
Business development workshops and more.