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5 Must Have Tools for Small Business Owners

5 Must Have Tools for Small Business Owners

Looking to make your small business more productive in 2018? Most successful entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to make their business more efficient.

It’s not just having the right tools at the click of a button. It’s about having the right toolset that works for your business, that will all make the difference.

If, in 2018, one of your goals is effective business management and optimal productivity, then the tools below are non-negotiable.

Trello

Trello is essentially a work flow manager. You can create an interactive and process based workspace, by dragging task cards onto a virtual whiteboard.

Work colleague avatars can be dragged and dropped in order to assign tasks, and also to move tasks for any work that’s in progress.

Trello uses innovative techniques, like voting, and the entire board’s workflow is visible to your team members. For example, you could use it to help streamline a particular product development process by removing any unnecessary steps. As a team manager, you are only focused on one specific task at a time. And, you’ll have a crystal clear visual representation of what you’ve done and what you will be doing.

The web-based application is free to use, but upgraded plans have more features.

Smartphone apps for iOS and Android systems are available.

Operating System: Mac/Windows

Price: Free

Asana

If we’re talking about tools for small businesses, then including a project management platform is a must.

Asana is a tool to keep both your team and projects well organized. If you’re not using it already, you probably should be. All of your plans, ideas, tasks, and conversations are kept in one simple platform that allows everyone the ability to view and contribute. It also allows creation of multiple projects. Team members can be assigned to each project’s tasks, which are checked off when complete, communicating the tasks’ progress to the entire team.

It will help you stay on top of things in general, from setting up tasks, to-do lists, reminders, and requests about anything. You can track progress, and have the ability to directly communicate with your staff.

Asana is a cross device app, which is free for teams of up to 15 members. Beyond that limit, you’ll need to pay for a Premium plan.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Slack

How do you keep in touch with your super team? Email? Skype?

Slack is considered the gold standard for project collaboration and team interaction. Why? This web-based solution caters to various industries, including technology, media, retail, research, financial services, and transport.

You can create multiple private channels for different parts of your company like customer service, learning, or general announcements. Files like PDFs, documents, and spreadsheets can be shared using drag and drop.

Chats can be restricted to just your team (in comparison, Skype has all your contacts sending you messages all day, which can be distracting). The settings can be changed to disable notifications for certain times of the day (e.g. when you have important meetings or work scheduled).

You can also connect your favorite tools and services with Slack, keeping your team coordinated, so all conversations are in one place. For example apps like Google Drive, Google Hangouts, Dropbox, Evernote, and Paypal all integrate through APIs.

Big companies like The Los Angeles Times, Airbnb, and Oracle all use Slack. If it’s good enough for them, no doubt it’ll be good enough for your small team.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Xero

Xero is built to streamline your business accounting needs. You can see cash flow in real time, as well as invoice clients directly from the software. Reconciliations are a breeze. Your bookkeeper can do all of this for you (if you have one).

This software helps you get a clear overview of your business’s accounts. It also means your accountant won’t hate you when it comes to tax time, as everything is so well organized.

If you have a profitable business, a software package like this comes highly recommended for controlling your accounts.

If you’re still using Excel, you’re living in the Stone Ages. Excel spreadsheets are the caveman’s version of accounting, especially when you can see all the features that Xero has.

Price: Starts at $9 per month

Nimble

Nimble is a Customer Relationship Management tool that uses artificial intelligence to pull information from social media profiles to update customer data. This cuts out need to key in basics about individual contacts. It also pulls out your team’s data, like e-mail, interactions, contacts, and calendars. Nimble syncs with a wide range of third-party apps.

Nimble includes a browser widget, mobile app, and Outlook inbox. Smart coverage of a wide range of general and business-oriented social media is also included. Nimble Prospector is a tool that searches information for viable contacts on social media websites, then transforms social interaction into relationships you can ultimately use for generating revenue for your business.

Price: Nimble Contact starts at $9.00 per month, per user. Nimble Business starts at $19.00 per month, per user



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by James Wignall // James Wignall is a founder at Gotkard. He specializes in all things app related, from helping small businesses, to empowering entrepreneurs.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.