For small business owners, “wearing multiple hats” isn’t just an expression. It’s a daily reality, driven by the need to act not just as a visionary product or service developer, but as a salesperson, accountant, human resources specialist and more, depending on the demands of the day.
Even marginal productivity gains can be life-changing when your business’s livelihood relies on your ability to be all things to all people. That’s why we’ve rounded up 25 tools that’ll help you simplify, streamline, and manage. No matter what you need, you’ll find a helpful resource below that’ll make it possible for you to get more done in less time.
Take the unnecessary hassle out of communications with the following tools:
What It Is: A chat tool with the ability to create multiple groups and channels.
How It Helps: Get out of your email inbox, and into a single, centralized communications platform. The tool’s broad support (it boasts more than 8M daily active users) means plenty of integrations with other programs you use, along with features like document sharing and a searchable history.
What It Is: A scheduling tool that allows others to book time on your calendar.
How It Helps: Calendly eliminates the email back-and-forth associated with trying to find common times for meetings. Simply share your Calendly link with employees, sales prospects or any other group, and they’ll be able to set their own appointments. Even better, Calendly syncs with your existing calendar to prevent unintentional overlap.
What It Is: Video conferencing, made easy.
How It Helps: Use Zoom to connect with team members, customers or other stakeholders wherever they are in the world over video chat. It’s free to use on webinars of up to 100 people and on group calls under 40 minutes. Even better, Zoom can record your meetings automatically, and touch up your appearance when you’re on camera.
What It Is: A cloud-based phone system provider.
How It Helps: You don’t have to be a large operation to sound like one on the phone. Telzio takes the complication out of setting up a multi-line phone system, and its scaling price system means you only pay for the time and features you use.
What It Is: An app that syncs notifications between multiple devices.
How It Helps: Many business owners find themselves constantly switching between phones, tablets and laptops. Messages can get lost in the shuffle — that is, unless Pushover is installed. Once set up, the app syncs the push notifications received from Pushover-integrated programs to all your devices, to ensure nothing important gets missed.
Centralizing key project details in a project management system cuts out unnecessary back-and-forth between team members and wasted time spent hunting down missing pieces of information.
What It Is: Cloud-based collaboration and project management software, according to the company’s tagline.
How It Helps: Wrike boasts four major advantages, helping teams to gain visibility, simplify planning, enable collaboration and streamline workflows across projects of all shapes and sizes. Wrike tailors these offerings further, with features designed specifically for marketing, creative, project management, product development, business operations and professional services teams.
What It Is: A flexible data-organizing tool that looks like a spreadsheet but functions like a database.
How It Helps: Airtable’s data-manipulation options make it a great choice for teams that have outgrown Excel, but that don’t yet need a solution that’s as fully featured as a system like Wrike. Give it a try for free, but be aware that its reporting functionality is somewhat limited at this point.
What It Is: A drag-and-drop, visually-intuitive project management system.
How It Helps: Trello and Asana, described below, share many of the same abilities. Both allow you to capture individual tasks or data points, group them by project and associate metadata — such as due dates or user-defined tags — with them. But where Asana’s UI is list-based, Trello’s is organized as stacks of cards. Both are great tools; it’s simply a question of user preference.
What It Is: A cloud-based project management system that’s defined by workspaces and projects.
How It Helps: Like Trello, Asana makes it possible for teams to add structure to their projects and to ensure necessary details don’t fall through the cracks. Upgrading to Asana’s Premium feature adds collaboration tools and a Gantt-style “Timeline” project planning tool. Be aware, however, that upgrading requires a minimum of five licenses, whether or not you have that many users. At $6.25 per user, billed annually, this won’t break the bank, but it’s still an important consideration.
What It Is: A secure password management tool.
How It Helps: We admit it. We’re partial to CyberFOX. But sharing passwords is an often-overlooked part of proper project management. Rather than turning over the keys to the kingdom whenever a new team member joins your projects, share and limit password access as needed on a tool-by-tool basis.
Many of today’s popular marketing tools feature automation technology that frees up time by taking tasks off your plate.
What It Is: An automated live chat tool.
How It Helps: Chatbots may sound complex, but the reality is they can take a substantial burden off of your team’s shoulders by qualifying visitors as they come to your website. Intercom’s automated messaging features initiate conversations with new prospects; if they’re deemed high enough quality, they can be passed on to a live salesperson or support rep for further engagement.
What It Is: A tool that automatically generates well-designed ebooks and lead magnets from blog posts.
How It Helps: Feed your blog posts into Designrr, adjust a few settings to your preferences, and wait just 30 seconds while the tool churns out a professional-quality PDF. It won’t just save you time. It can also cut down significantly on the expenses associated with good design.
What It Is: The video equivalent of Designrr.
How It Helps: Like Designrr, Lumen5 automatically creates videos out of your blog content or other web articles. The tool offers plenty of customization options, though its automated design features will get you far closer to finished product without any input on your part than you might expect.
What It Is: A simplified social media scheduling tool for teams.
How It Helps: In addition to offering the standard scheduling features you’d expect from a tool like this, Loomly ups the ante by including suggested post content (based on RSS feeds, Twitter trends and more), housing all of your content assets in a central library and facilitating collaboration among teammates before new posts go live.
What It Is: A centralized reporting dashboard that draws marketing analytics data from multiple sources.
How It Helps: Stop opening six different tabs every time you need to check your marketing stats. Instead, pull your results into one central location where they can be analyzed as a whole. Existing integrations include Google Analytics, Salesforce, Infusionsoft and Mailchimp, among many others.
The less manual accounting work you have to do, the more time you’ll save. These tools make it possible.
What It Is: A fully-fledged, yet free small business accounting tool.
How It Helps: Receipt-scanning tools, invoicing and automatic bank imports, among other features, make Wave a time-saving tool for the financial needs of many small business. Even better, Wave is free until you add on paid services like payroll management or ACH/credit card payment processing.
What It Is: Another small business accounting tool with strong invoicing capabilities.
How It Helps: Although Freshbooks lacks some of the broader features of a program like Quickbooks or Xero, its invoicing tools make it a great choice for small businesses with billable hours and projects. Check out its invoice automation features in particular, which save you time by sending payment reminders on your behalf.
What It Is: A SMB accounting tool that adds bookkeeping and tax management features.
How It Helps: As your business’s financial needs become more complex, they may exceed your ability to handle them on your own. In that case, a tool like InDinero, which combines not just accounting software, but the professional support needed to keep it up as well, can take a major burden off your shoulders.
What It Is: An expense management automation system.
How It Helps: From the time you pay an expense until it’s reconciled in your books, there’s no better tool than Expensify to properly manage your business’s charges. The system’s ease of use — as well as its advanced approval hierarchies, real-time expense reports, receipt scanning and accounting software integrations — make it a major time-saver by eliminating the headaches associated with traditional expense management.
What It Is: A payments platform that facilitates easy ACH payments.
How It Helps: Anything that gets you paid faster is a productivity win in our books. Dwolla offers a key component that’s missing from many traditional credit card processors — the ability to easily accept and send out ACH transactions.
Spend less time on common HR processes — such as employee onboarding or tax filing — with these productivity solutions.
What It is: A payroll processing solution optimized for the needs of small businesses.
How It Helps: Gusto makes it easy for small businesses to hire people and start paying them. But from a productivity standpoint, its best feature is that, rather leaving the onus of collecting payroll taxes on the business owner, the system captures them every time payroll is processed and submits them on your behalf. You’ll save time, and you’ll never worry about coming up short at tax time again.
What It Is: A small business HR solution, encompassing payroll, benefits, compliance and reporting.
How It Helps: Like Gusto, GoCo makes employee onboarding and payment a breeze. An increasing number of employers, however, are turning to the system for its benefits management system, which makes it possible for businesses of all sizes to offer benefits and manage contributions as part of a competitive compensation package.
What It Is: A microlearning platform that allows you to create a library of internal training videos.
How It Helps: Grovo can be used to document standard procedures, but one of its best use cases is employee onboarding. Simply record the necessary introduction and training videos once, and you’ll never have to drop what you’re doing and spend a whole day (or more!) bringing new hires up to speed again.
What It Is: A job listing service that files postings on your behalf with multiple providers.
How It Helps: According to Proven, all you have to do is enter a few details on the position you’re looking to fill. From there, the system’s AI creates your full job description and shares it to the curated list of job listing websites it believes will connect your business with the best candidates.
What It Is: Like Proven, BetterTeam files multiple job board listings for you.
How It Helps: BetterTeam’s value proposition is simple. Fill out your job description once, and BetterTeam will post it to more than 100 different job sites. The tool also boasts its own proprietary applicant tracking system (ATS), which consolidates the responses received from these platforms into a central, easily-navigable database.
Boost your productivity today
Never before have business owners had access to so many productivity-boosting tools. So although we’ve profiled a few of our favorites here, this round-up is far from comprehensive.
If you have another suggestion you’d add to our list, leave us a note in the comments below sharing what the tool is, and what it’s done for you: