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3 ways small businesses can soften the impact of Microsoft Office 365’s price increase

Posted by Grace Townsley

September 3, 2021    |     2-minute read (570 words)

Small business owners brace for impact. Microsoft is raising prices on Office 365. And you might need to budget in advance for this one. 

The announced Microsoft Office 365 subscription price increase is set to take effect on March 1, 2022. This price jump is the first increase that will impact small business owners. Previous Office 365 price increases only impacted enterprise accounts and the perpetual license version of Office 365.

This is a surprising decision from Microsoft, considering the change will directly and predominantly impact small businesses. But Microsoft says the increase reflects the dozens of added features that have been released over the past several years. 

How bad will it hurt?

For healthy small businesses, not too bad. Depending on which subscription your business uses, you’ll see an increase of $1-$4 per user, per month, or $12-$48 per user per year. These prices will apply to businesses with up to 300 Office 365 users. And for micro-businesses, those that employ fewer than 10 people, your required budget change for subscribing only a few users may be negligible. 

But for businesses operating on razor-thin margins, like the 3 out of every 10 small businesses in the US struggling just to stay open throughout the pandemic, every single dollar matters. 

If the upcoming Office 365 price change threatens your budget, consider these alternatives to the full subscription price.

3 Alternatives to your Microsoft Office 365 full subscription

Subscribe a la carte

If you and your team only use a couple Office 365 services, you may save a little money by purchasing access to only the services you use. For example, if you’re currently on a mid or upper-level Office 365 plan, like Business Premium, but you don’t use all the services, you can downgrade your subscription to Business Basic.

You could also consider purchasing lifetime access to a single service like Outlook. For $140, you would have permanent access to Outlook on one computer. While not particularly convenient, if you use your computer for several years, that adds up to significant savings. 

Find free alternatives

If your team is mainly looking for a chat tool, a real-time content editing space, and recorded video meetings, you may be able to put together a free tech stack using Microsoft Teams (the free version), Apache OpenOffice, and Zoom. The free version of Microsoft Teams allows for unlimited messaging, OpenOffice includes a word processor, spreadsheets, presentations, and more, and the free version of Zoom allows unlimited recordable 1-on-1 meetings and 40-minute group meetings. Together, these three powerful tools might be all a small business team needs to collaborate and communicate. 

Maximize other services you already pay for

Do you already have a Google business account? Depending on what level of Office 365 you were subscribed to previously, you may save money by adding Google Workspace users to your account. Google Workspace starts at $6 per month, per user, and grants users access to their own branded email address, as well as Google docs, sheets, slides, video and instant messaging features, and cloud storage. 

Key takeaway

Microsoft Office has been a business staple since 1990. But it’s not the only option available to small businesses. If the upcoming price increases put a strain on your small business budget, look at alternatives. These days, there are more free and low-cost options to keep your business running smoothly than ever before. 

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