Get More Productive | 18 Top Tools for Startups & Small Businesses
It is good practice to do everything yourself as a startup so you can clearly understand and define your processes, as well as save your limited funds for the work that really matters. However, there always comes a time in the startup process when you feel overwhelmed with tasks.
This is the perfect time to make use of specialised tools for project management and organisation. The following list will help you streamline your workflow, collaborate more effectively with your team, and organise work more efficiently – ultimately making your business more productive!
1. Virtual Assistants
Everyone has time-consuming, monotonous tasks that need to be done daily. These tasks might normally be delegated to an administrative employee. However, as a start-up, you don’t always have the luxury of having multiple employees with free time, or the cash flow to hire full time staff.
This is where a Virtual Assistant can step in. Virtual Assistants provide business support in tasks like administration from a remote location. It’s cost-effective (cheaper than employing someone) and efficient as you can get assistance with time-consuming tasks as and when you need it..
There are many VA services around so you might want to choose a VA that specialises in your industry. We’ve found that Worldwide101 provide a well-rounded service. They make it easy to hire experienced administrators, marketers and project management professionals.
2. Google Drive
Google Drive is a simple cloud storage system for your whole team, offering cloud storage and file backup for photos, documents, and spreadsheets.
One really cool feature we like in Google Drive is that you can seamlessly share documents, files and calendars. The calendar feature is really useful for time management and project management of your whole team, helping you to collaborate more effectively.
The free plan allows you up to 30 GB storage to start off and as your business grows and you surpass 30gb you can get a basic G-Suite plan with unlimited storage for £3.30 per month.
You can also work in Google Docs and Sheets, which saves you the cost of buying expensive software like Microsoft Office, as well as giving you easy file sharing options via Drive.
Do you need someone with more specialised skills like a graphic designer or a web developer? Perhaps you have a specific project that needs completing, but you don’t yet have the business need or funds for a full time member of staff?
Upwork is a platform which allows you to hire freelancers online. Using a freelance worker gives you the flexibility to hire them on an ad-hoc basis as and when you need specific work completing. Ultimately this saves you time and money via using an alternate hiring process.
4. Amazon FBA
Amazon FBA (Fulfilment by Amazon) is a product fulfilment service that can be used by start-ups as well as large corporate brands. It’s no secret that Amazon are the kings of e-commerce, so using this service is a really convenient way to get your product out there. It’s the online equivalent of having your product on the shelf of a major superstore like Tesco.
On top of this, the FBA Service can fulfil the whole purchasing B2C process. This takes a huge chunk of work out of your hands. For start-ups, in particular, you could work a full-time job whilst having 50 orders or more flying out per day without needing to step foot in a post office.
Amazon FBA will store your product, deliver orders, and handle customer queries and returns. This is a great solution for e-commerce start-ups that don’t want the overheads and responsibility of renting a warehouse space.
TIP: Amazon FBA can fulfil orders from your own website – not just items listed on Amazons platform.
Freshbooks is an ideal cloud accounting service for businesses with less than 10 clients. It’s user-friendly and claims to save you 16 hours bookkeeping time per month. You can pay bills, deal with payroll, and invoice customers through this convenient software.
Even better, you can test it for 30 days completely free!
If your business is internet based, Stripe offers a well trusted online payment processing service. This is a high-end service used by successful companies like Slack and Missguided.
Picture this… all your marketing efforts have been a success, your customer is at the checkout on your website about to convert into a sale but your checkout is either slow, crashes or is too long-winded so they press the back button and head back to Google.
Nobody wants this wasted effort (money) scenario. The checkout experience on your website needs to be quick, simple, and secure. This is why many successful businesses choose to use Stripe.
Slack is an excellent free tool for team communication, collaboration, and management. Have you ever sifted through cluttered email threads looking for a throwaway comment your colleague made a few weeks ago? We’ve all been there and that’s where Slack saves the day. You can easily search a keyword and find it in an old chat.
Slack also provides an all-in-one communication hub for your business. For example, you can have separate chat channels for different departments, teams, and even specific work projects to keep communication organised and streamlined.
Another reason Slack is so popular is that it effortlessly integrates with a lot of the tools you already use like Google Drive, Trello and more.
This is an excellent service if you require customers to sign for your service / product. DocuSign provides a digital signature service that saves time compared to the traditional pen and paper signing method.
An efficient customer experience can make or break signing off a new contract with your client. If customers have to download an email attachment, print the document off, sign it, scan it and then email it back, there’s chance that they will find this too long winded and buy your service from a competitor instead.
After all, we are in the digital age and customers expect things on-demand with fast, efficient processes. You’ll also save yourself time waiting for completed documents – a win-win for everyone.
Mailchimp is a powerful marketing automation platform that allows you to effortlessly build and execute marketing campaigns. It’s amazing for collecting demographic and data about your target audience, letting you fine tune and personalise your marketing messages. Mailchimp makes it simple to segment and target your audience more precisely for purposes like re-marketing emails.
The four key areas of MailChimp are to create, connect, automate and optimize. You can create everything from email marketing messages and social media ads, to landing pages, signup forms and even postcards.
If you are an e-commerce start-up, MailChimp also connects with Shopify and Woocommerce. With this integration, you can automate processes like product recommendations and optimize your marketing efforts with segmentation and personalization features.
10. Coverage Book
Does your business take part in any PR or Journalism activity? If you do and regularly produce reports on activities this is a great tool that will save you bundles of time.
We’ve all been there taking screen snippets, copy and pasting figures, and crunching all the numbers to produce a client report. It can take hours of work to put even a simple report together.
CoverageBook solves this problem, automatically generating data rich reports that show all the coverage you’ve earned.
“Coverage Book automates the time-consuming (but essential) bits for you. So you can focus on what counts…getting more coverage” – Coverage Book
Are you looking to get media coverage for your product/service? Maybe you’re a PR Professional, Digital Marketer or Journalist working on behalf of your client.
This is the place to be for securing coverage as Journalists post questions on different topics in various sectors. Therefore these journalists are actively looking for you to provide them with your content and expert advice or opinion. It’s a win-win situation for your brand and the journalist.
Trello is a project management tool designed to improve the productivity of your whole team. You can have separate channels for teams and projects, assign tasks, add checklists, upload files and track progress.
Ultimately, this is an amazing free tool that integrates with Google drive and Slack and helps the entire team to collaborate more effectively.
This is like Google Analytics with a visual aid. If you want to improve user experience on your website or amp up your conversion rate then this tool is a life saver.
You can literally watch recordings of how people are using your website. This will enable you to identify flaws and areas of improvement.
Hotjar also includes a Conversion Funnels tool which shows you where people drop-off your site. This information tells you to where to make changes on that page for better conversions and keeping users on your site.
Another free tool for start-ups is the e-commerce WordPress plugin ‘Woocommerce’. The plugin helps you to manage your inventory, take payments, and organise shipping for your products.
As a start-up, you want to keep things affordable and in one place. Luckily enough Woocommerce is free and does exactly that.
15. Invoice Ninja
This is a smooth, fast invoicing solution that will save you time. You can also invoice from anywhere if you are on holiday or travelling for work using the iPhone app or Android app.
You can use a free version but we recommend the Ninja Pro Plan for $8 per month to unlock all features including; custom URL and Password protected client-side portal.
16. Virtual Landline
Your new business is all set-up and ready to go, but it lacks a professional image as the phone number on your website is a mobile number. This is where you need a virtual landline.
85% of people whose calls aren’t answered will not call back – Message Direct
Virtual Landline also has the option to use their app for WiFi calling in areas with bad signal. So no need to worry if you’re in another country – you can still make and receive calls.
Another good option you get with Virtual Landline is that they can integrate a virtual receptionist as part of your plan via their partner ‘Message Direct’.
As your business grows you may find that a lot of your time is taken up from answering phone calls and you can avoid the expense of a full-time receptionist by using a virtual receptionist.
This tool is used by large organisations like Tesco, Red Bull and Deloitte, but will work perfectly for your start-up as well. The lite plan is made specifically for small growing teams like yours.
Asana will help you manage and organize plans, projects and processes. This is the best way to streamline your plans in a straightforward visual way for the whole team to understand.
18. Transcription Services
Whether you’re carrying out market research, interviewing key figures within your industry for blog posts, or need captions for your latest marketing video, transcription services like ours can be a real help when looking to save both time and money.
Transcription is very time consuming and difficult for the untrained, but we offer a professional quality transcription service with fast turnaround times and low prices.