There are specific ways in which information technology plays an important role in small business success. Small companies usually rely on outside expertise (authorities in particular segments of modern technology), an adequate IT investment, user engagement, and even CEO involvement in the use of specific apps and tools. We know that, in the age of technology, all business owners should be using productivity tools to make their ventures run smoothly.
Today, it is safe to say that contemporary productivity tools have gone beyond the label of “helpful” for small businesses and arrived at the role of being absolutely crucial for their success. This list of the ten best productivity tools for small business owners will help you save time and energy while increasing efficiency on your own professional journeys.
1. Teamgate CRM – Customer Relationship Management Software
You’re going to need customer relationship management software if you want to keep track of your customers’ information in any way other than keeping sticky notes on a bulletin board. Teamgate CRM integrates the work of multiple staff members at one time and tracks the sales process every step of the way, from lead status to closed sales. There are many other CRM platforms out there, but Teamgate has an impressive 100% satisfaction rate, offers a free trial, and has a low monthly subscription cost.
2. Asana – Task Management
Asana is one of the best productivity tools for task management available. Fortunately it’s absolutely free. From inside the easy-to-navigate dashboard, you can create new tasks, assign them to specific teammates, and monitor the progress of multiple projects.
Asana even gives you the control to choose who is able to see particular tasks. It provides email alerts for upcoming deadlines so that you don’t have to. The recently updated task management platform is now easier than ever to navigate.
Tip: For better time organization, create private projects for your personal to-do list within the dashboard as well.
3. DropBox – File Sharing
The easiest way to share large or numerous files, rather than send them in multiple emails, is to use an app. DropBox has Microsoft integration for Hotmail and Office 365 user convenience, and is a fantastic choice. This means that you can co-edit files online with others using Office Online (Gmail users sometimes prefer Google Drive for compatibility reasons). Next time you have multiple files or those that are too large to share via email without taking up a lot of your time and frustration, try this platform for super-convenience and speed. You won’t pay anything for storage space until you have to upgrade.
4. Hootsuite – Social Media Scheduling
Rather than play around on Facebook all day to ensure that your business is visible to your followers at peak times throughout the day, set up a Hootsuite account. The basic package is free, and you can post to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more recently, Instagram. Share your content from a single dashboard while you monitor and schedule posts to all social media accounts at one time. Hootsuite can help you decide when the best times to post are, so it takes out a lot of guesswork.
If you’re not the one in charge of the social media accounts, don’t fret; you can add multiple users. Hootsuite makes it easy to bring your staff on board.
5. FreshBooks – Invoicing
There’s no easier invoicing platform than FreshBooks, where you can seamlessly send out a bill and collect PayPal or credit card payments in one step. FreshBooks stores the contact information and payment history from each of your clients. It also provides a platform for generating and sending project estimates for products and services. If you’re a modern day small business owner, you can’t afford not to try this software (it’s absolutely free to start).
6. MailChimp – Email Marketing
As your email list grows, your needs will quickly move beyond traditional email platforms. Mailchimp can be proudly named the industry leader in email marketing. You can send up to 12,000 emails per month to up to 2,000 subscribers. As your needs grow, you can upgrade your plan, including a pay-as-you-go subscription. This email platform offers flexible design templates, multiple user accounts, trusted autoresponders, advanced analytics, comprehensive mobile options, and integration with hundreds of popular productivity apps.
7. TextMagic – SMS Marketing for Mobile
Most people spend many hours per day on their cell phones, which is why every small business owner needs an all-in-one bulk SMS service. You can send texts online, convert emails to SMS, send to and keep track of SMS distribution lists. TextMagic offers sub-accounts for team members, virtual mobile numbers, an integrated STOP command, and built-in performance analytics amongst their advanced features for SMS marketing. SMS is great for promotions, relationships, and even recruiting.
8. Google Calendar – Time Management/ Scheduling
Google Calendar is an efficient way to keep track of events across all of your devices. You can access the calendar online from a smartphone, tablet, or PC, and it’s compatible with Windows, Android, and iOS. It works with Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari. You can share calendars and events with multiple users and groups, while keeping certain events private.
Users can check for good times to schedule meetings based on what the rest of the team has blocked-out on their Google Calendars. You can conveniently add Google Hangout URLs and upload file attachments to your events. Emailing event guests is easy with an integrated option to do so. This is like the new and improved Day Timer(TM), and it proves why technology is taking over.
9. Google Adwords Keyword Planner
Sign up for a Google AdWords account and find the Keyword Planner in the tools menu. You can use this system to research keywords to add to SEO, email, and social media campaigns based on topics relevant to your business. It’s necessary for high-quality content production. The Google AdWords Keyword Planner will give you historical statistics and traffic forecasts for specific keywords and groups of keywords.
Tip: Try using the Wikipedia page that describes your main keyword in place of your landing page when generating keyword ideas. This will likely be the page that Google gives the highest importance to, and it’s going to be packed full of relevant information to aid your cause.
10. Upwork – Staffing/ Outsourcing/ Copywriting
Have you ever needed a job done, but it didn’t quite require the hassle of hiring on a new full-time employee? According to Upwork, some 90% of companies hire freelancers. This is one of the best places to find them. There are millions of freelancers and organizations on Upwork collaborating on projects of all sizes. For example, if you need a piece of copy edited, simply sign up, post a job, and choose the best applicant. You will have the access to transparent portfolios, reviews, and an internal messaging platform.
11. Betterteam – Job Opening Distribution To +100 Sites
As almost any business owner with employees knows, hiring is hard. There’s hundreds of job sites out there any often they’re hit or miss. Sometimes Indeed works while other times Linkedin works. Betterteam aims to alleviate that headache by giving you the power to post to 100+ job boards through one dashboard. It will even write the job ad for you, a big time savings. Considering the time and headaches saved, the monthly fee is more than acceptable.
12. Grovo – Employee Training And Development
Hiring good employees is hard, hiring experienced employees that are a good fit is even harder and hiring experienced employees that require minimal training to onboard is near impossible. Grovo makes the training of less experienced, high potential employees easier. Often times businesses plan to hire less experienced employees that show promise and train them to develop their internal talent pool. More often than not, that plan never happens. Employees are left to their own devices, struggling and wasting hundreds of hours a year on tasks they don’t know how to tackle. Grovo acts as the lifeline those employees need to learn how to tackle their responsibilities in a better way. In the process better developing their own skills and becoming even more valuable to your business.
You may not have known that you needed some of these tools, but once you tried them, your professional life could never be the same. The beauty of such productivity tools is that most of them are free, offer free trials, or cost very little to use. As a small business owner, make investments into what matters – your time and energy.
Tip: If you clicked through any of the links, you probably noticed that most of these tools have great blogs to accompany the product. These are excellent for learning new tips to help you with your business success, so subscribe to them as you see fit.