Even though all of the software, apps, and tools available for small business owners are meant to make your life easier, narrowing down the right tools can be a hassle itself. That’s why I’ve come up with this of 25 small business tools that your business can’t live without so that you can get your business up and running – and keep it thriving.
For those business owners who want to be in charge of their entire operation, you’re going to have to have reliable invoicing software. With Due.com, you can easily send and receive professional invoices, as well as set-up recurring payments. There’s also a time tracking tool so that you can properly time employees on their progress. As if that were not enough, there’s the powerful dashboard which will inform you of unpaid invoices, overdue tasks, outstanding income, and a graph of your performance. You can signup for free and are not forced to commit to a monthly plan.
Built specifically with small business owners in mind, Wave Accounting offers a suite of free products so that you can manage all of your invoicing, accounting, and payroll needs. Wave also helps you accept online payments no matter where you are and comes with a handy receipt scanning tool so that you can keep track of your business expenses.
Want to know more information about your online visitors? There may be no better tool than Google’s free statistics and analytics service where you can discover your audience’s demographics, their online behavior, and how long they stayed on your site. There’s also detailed information on your conversion and sales.
4. Google Apps
Speaking of Google, the Big G also offers a collection of tools that are essential for each and every business in one convenient location. Google Apps for Work includes Gmail, Docs, Calendar, and Hangouts. With these tools you can stay organized, schedule events, collaborate with team members, and communicate with anyone in the world. While individuals can sign up for a free account, business owners will have to select between the $5 or $10 monthly plan.
Slack is a relatively newer tool that can make communication within your business a whole lot easier. You can organize discussions by topic, project, or team member, send direct messages, and drop any files you want so that they can be shared. The coolest thing about Slack though is that it integrates with a number of tools that you’re already so that you can receive real-time notifications from Twitter, Dropbox, Google Drive, or Zendesk. Best of all? Slack has a solid free feature with plans starting at $6.67 per month.
Want to know what your customers really think about your product, website, or business in general? Then you may want to give Intercom a spin. It not only allows you to see how your customers are using your website, app, or tool, you can also interact with them via popups on dedicated pages or features. A great tool to acquire new customers by listening to their feedback, interacting with them, and boosting your customer service. Plans start at $49/month for one product, but you can add more for an additional $4.
Starting a small business isn’t for the weak of heart. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a little help in acquiring leads and converting them into customers. That’s where Salesforce’s all-in-one CRM software comes into play. The easy-to-use software includes everything you need to gain customers and increase sales with features like contact management, lead generation, sales forecasting, workflow automation, and the ability to collaborate with your reps. Since Salesforce is arguably the best CRM software for small businesses, you’re going to have to select a monthly plan which can go as high as $300/month. But, you take advantage of the free trial first.
Want to keep your team on the same page? Then you’re going to need a project management tool. While there a number of incredible project management tools out there, like Trello or Wrike, Basecamp has proven itself to be the leader of the pack. With the latest version, you can create to-do-lists, start a message board on a specific topic, organize events, set deadlines, and share files. I’m a fan of the automatic check-in where you can ask team members a question, such as what they accomplished for the day, on a recurring schedule. Basecamp also integrates with your Google Apps and works nicely with Due.com
Dropbox is an extremely secure (it offers two security features; two-step verification and remote wipe) tool for backing up all of your files onto the cloud. However, it’s also useful for collaborating on tasks like presentations and sharing files to team members from anywhere in the world. Monthly plans for Dropbox Business start at $10.
Believe it or not, email marketing is still one of the most effective marketing channels. Thanks to MailChimp, you can take advantage of that by collecting email addresses and then segmenting your emails so that the right message reaches the right people. You can also discover more information about your audience and quickly send out newsletters. MailChimp also integrates with Salesforce, WordPress, Twitter, and Facebook. If you’re just starting out, MailChimp offers a free forever plan.
While you probably should have an attorney for the bigger business decisions, there may be times when you need quick legal advice and don’t have the time, or desire to pay your attorney’s hourly wage. That’s when you can spend the $23.99 per month on Legalzoom and have an attorney that fits your needs on standby to provide legal advice or answer questions regarding a contract or your taxes.
There was once a time when you had to actually mail or go in-person to sign important documents and wait days or weeks for the document to be returned. Thanks to Docusign you can sign, or have clients and employees, sign a document electronically so that you can speed up the progress on getting to work. Plans start at just $10/month.
If you want to have a blog for your business, which you should definitely have, there’s pretty much one choice; WordPress. It’s the most well-known and powerful blogging platform in the world and it’s completely free. There’s also thousands of available plugins so that you can convert your blog into whatever you want, like an all-out eCommerce site.
In a nutshell, this tool will turn your marketing ideas into actual content by assisting you in creating a schedule so that you can deliver quality content on a consistent basis. Coschedule will even promote your newly published post on social media automatically. To make collaboration run more smoothly, Coschedule integrates with Google Drive, WordPress, Dropbox, and Evernote. Plans start at $15/month.
14. SCORE Templates and Tools
SCORE is a nonprofit organization that focuses on helping small businesses thrive through a plethora of free advice and resources that cover everything from business planning, managing your finances, legal tips, and, marketing. If you can’t find the help that you’re looking for, SCORE hosts workshops and can even help you find a mentor.
There’s no shortage of tools, like Buffer and Sprout Social, that can help you manage all of your social media channels. But, you can’t go wrong with the insanely popular Hootsuite. In just one dashboard, you can schedule messages or content on all of your social media accounts, as well engage your audience and listen to what they’re saying about your brand through Hootsuite’s social monitoring feature. If the free plan isn’t enough for you, paid plans start at $9.99/month.
Zapier is essentially the business version of If This, Then That (IFTTT). It connects the apps that you’re already using and automates them so that you can improve your productivity. This is achieved through triggers. So, if you wanted to launch a new project, Zapier would create the task in your prefered project-management platform and create a Google Calendar alert to all of your team members reminding them of important dates. Pricing ranges from the free plan to $125/month.
17. When I Work
If you run a business where there a hourly employees then you definitely need to snag When I Work. It’s an incredibly easy way for you to schedule employees online – the app makes it possible to schedule employees no matter where you are. Once you make the schedule, When I Work notifies the employee so there’s no longer any miscommunication regarding when they’re supposed to work. Pricing works on a scale based on how many employees you have.
Want to increase your organic search? Give SEMRush a try. It’s a tool that will tell which keywords your business is ranking for by monthly volume. But, that’s not all. SEMRush can also inform you how your competitors doing. This is hands down on the best tools if you’re launching a digital marketing campaign. Monthly plans range from $69.95 to $549.95.
Don’t have the experience or funding to create your own graphics for social media banners, marketing flyers, or blog graphics, then Canva is your one-stop destination. Using their pre-formated graphics, you can give your business the appearance that you have a professional graphic designer on your team. Best of all, Canva is free and idiot proof.
Skype has been around for awhile, but it’s still one of the best ways to communicate with team members or clients from all over the world for free via smartphones or computers. You can also use to host webinars and share screens during meetings or conference calls.
Collecting and organizing expenses from all of you employees can be a major headache. Thanks to Expensify, employees can upload receipts and submit their expenses in one location. Once you approve the expense you can compensate them with just one-click of button.
HubSpot is one of the most popular inbound marketing tools that provides an all-in-one marketing software that covers everything from social media publishing and monitoring, email marketing, marketing automation, content management, and reports. The HubSpot blog also contains priceless advice and tips on improving your inbound marketing campaigns. Monthly plans start at $200.
This tool helps you discover how people are spending their time on your app and website. While that sounds like any other analytics tool, MixPanel explains it in a way that those without technical skills can understand. With this information, you can then use it to increase sales and conversions. There’s a free plan, followed by a $200 monthly option.
Instead of scurrying around trying to find out which domains, logos, or patents have already been claimed, you can use Trademarkia to find that information out for you in one convenient location. You can save a lot of time, and some legal problems, but taking advantage of this free tool.
If you’re ready to mingle and do some networking, there probably isn’t a better option than Meetup. As the world’s largest network of local groups, there are over 23 million members in 180 different countries, you can quickly find a face-to-face meeting with your niche group in your community. Meetup is free to join, but if you want to plan an event you’ll have to purchase a subscription plan that starts at $9.99 per month.