Let’s face it: Starting a business can be overwhelming.
The question of how to juggle all of the tasks ahead of you—web development, finance, branding, marketing, team, customer management and more—can be a huge weight on any entrepreneur’s shoulders.
Luckily, there is a range of tools that alleviate the workload and even automate some of these processes! While there are thousands of tools designed to help small businesses, we’ve boiled the options down to the most essential small business tools your company needs right now.
Rapportive is a free Gmail plugin that small businesses can use to learn more about their email contacts.
The plugin replaces your sidebar with information about who you’re emailing with, including their picture, social media links, and location. The tool also gives you the ability to guess the email addresses of strangers, which is especially important for marketing and PR.
Slack is a fun and reliable way to communicate with your employees.
The platform’s user-friendly design, complete with emojis and funny gifs, makes it intuitive to use and brings employees together. It’s a great tool for messaging within and across teams, sharing documents and links, and organizing company events.
If you’re a startup in search of funding, AngelList is a good resource. The company connects startups with investors to help them get off the ground. Not only is it a great place to look for funding, but it’s also useful for networking. Plus, you can post job openings on the platform to connect with other professionals and prospective employees.
QuickBooks is an accounting tool that helps small businesses keep track of their client’s payments, employee salaries, and more.
Its intuitive interface makes it easy for employees to record their working hours and other important details, while automating the accounting process for back office management. Its automatic backup system also makes it a reliable tool for keeping your company’s financial data safe.
While Slack is a useful resource for internal communication, Skype is a great tool for calling and messaging clients and business partners, particularly if they are located internationally.
Skype lets you send messages to clients one-on-one, without needing to rely on email. The tool can be used as a desktop app as well as a mobile app for instant communication.
HubSpot is a customer-focused marketing tool and customer relationship management (CRM) platform.
The company helps small businesses develop a robust marketing strategy and offers a series of video tutorials that train employees in various marketing techniques, including content, SEO, and more. At the same time, HubSpot’s free CRM platform is a great tool for organizing and analyzing data about prospective customers and leads.
MailChimp helps small businesses dive into email marketing.
It’s particularly useful for companies new to email marketing, since it allows businesses to quickly create bulk newsletter content with easy-to-use, customizable templates. The platform lets users send 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers for free.
LinkedIn is an important—and free—tool for any small business, and it’s one of the first places clients look when they research a company.
A LinkedIn page is more than just an online CV; it’s a marketing page for your business. The networking platform is a great place for you to describe your company’s mission, highlight its accomplishments, post your content, and connect with other professionals.
Any business needs to know how many people are actually visiting their site.
Luckily, Google Analytics is a free tool that provides invaluable analysis of your website traffic. Analyzing your web traffic will help you know whether your business is successfully marketing to your target audience and converting leads.
Shopify is a useful tool for small businesses looking to integrate an online store into their website.
The platform helps businesses design their online store, manage inventory and customer orders, and process payments. It also displays data about web traffic and purchases that gives businesses key insight into their marketing and sales strategies.
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The foundation of marketing your small business is developing a branding strategy—a catchy and relevant name, a distinct brand voice, and a compelling site design and logo.
Many small businesses don’t have the funds to hire a designer in-house, but that doesn’t mean they can’t create a great logo. Tailor Brands is an online logo creator, that, after taking into account the company’s name and preferred style, designs professional logos in seconds.
And, after you create your logo, you can use Tailor’s design tools and website builder to establish a complete brand identity.
Trello is one of the highest-rated chat and team management platforms for businesses.
Companies can use the desktop and mobile apps to create and assign different tasks, set due dates for themselves or others, and add comments and notes. The task management platform allows employees to view a calendar of due dates, meetings, and other events, helping teams better coordinate with one another. And, if you’re going the entrepreneurial journey solo, it’s equally as helpful for organizing and checking off your to-do lists.
If you’re interested in outsourcing some of your company’s work to a freelancer, Upwork is a great place to start. The platform includes freelancers in almost every industry, including content creation, graphic design, web development, and more.
Upwork eliminates the hassle of searching for a reputable freelancer, instead allowing you to compare their ratings and reviews, prices, and work history.
It would be foolish to go without Google Drive, a free tool built into Gmail. The drive allows businesses to create shared documents and spreadsheets that others can view and edit.
By eliminating the need to attach email files and save multiple versions of the same document, Google Drive improves file organization and speeds up workflow tremendously.
If you’re ready to break into the content marketing world, SEMrush is the way to do it.
Offering a full keyword analysis, the platform provides a number of metrics by which to check how well your business ranks in Google, which key terms competitors are ranking for, and so much more. This tool will help you both put together a content strategy and leverage SEO to grow your business.
ScheduleOnce is a free online scheduling tool that integrates with all major calendar platforms, including Google Calendar. It helps to automate both the recruitment process and client scheduling, with an easy-to-use system that you can tweak to your preferences.
From creating webinars to scheduling calls, the tool’s integration is seamless and mobile-friendly.
If you want to bump up your customer service, LiveChat is the way to do it. This tool allows you to talk to your customers in real time, whether they’re surfing your site for the first time or are repeat guests.
With LiveChat’s ticketing system, it’s easy to give your potential customers round-the-clock customer support. And, with this application, you can identify the types of website visitors you have, send them chat invitations that are tailored to them, and monitor your customer service performance with analytics.
There are plenty of small business tools out there, but adopting these 17 is a great start. Using these resources, you can improve the operational efficiency of your small business, develop a funding strategy and financial plan, refine your marketing techniques, and ultimately kick your business into high gear.