5 Must Have Tech Tools for Small Business Owners

Running a small business can be rewarding, but it’s often exhausting. Luckily, there are a countless number of tools to streamline operations and boost productivity. But with so many hyper-specialized tools and all-in-one solutions, how do we choose the right one? You wouldn’t brush your teeth with a spoon and a plumber wouldn’t fix a leaking tap without the right wrench.

It’s no different when it comes to small business enablement. There are plenty of tools and apps out there that can make life easier. The key is building the right “stack” by finding tools that complement your workflow. We’ve compiled this list of the five awesome business apps to help you streamline project management and boost productivity. Each recommended tool has been personally tested, and also includes prices.

1. Asana

Asana is one of the most popular project management tools available today. Doubling as both a project management and task management app, Asana provides a medium for efficient team collaboration and communication.

Asana can be used to create projects, monitor task progress, and collaborate. Team members can be assigned to specific projects and tasks (with due dates), share files, and communicate to streamline project management. As soon as a task is assigned or changes are made, team members receive a notification. The ability to comment on the task allows team conversations to be held in one place so you can stop digging through emails.

You can even integrate it with other great online tools, like Google Drive, Dropbox, Slack, Zapier, Jotana, Github, Wufoo, MailChimp, WordPress, and many more. Overall, it’s a great team management and communication tool for small businesses and it’s free for up to 15 team members. Upgrades are from $9.99 per month per user. If you’re looking for other options, Wrike is a comparable tool but it’s a bit pricey. At $579 annually, you will receive all of the benefits above for 5 users, plus the ability to customize your task dashboard.

2. Evernote

Evernote is one of the most recommended for note-taking apps for blogging, research, brainstorming, and business presentations, because of its ability to help save time. By providing a single platform for organizing notes and ideas, Evernote allows you to save all of your bright ideas in one easily accessible place, regardless of file format. You can add web pages, videos, and sound recordings all within one simple note.

Some of the top features include:

  • Notebooks to categorize your notes and ideas to be shared with specific clients and team members. For example, your ‘Business Project ABC’ will have its own notes (i.e. where you save ideas, research, photos, etc.)
  • Checklists and other ways to display your information. For instance, the check-box bullet point option is the virtual equivalent of ticking off tasks on a handwritten list.
  • Attachments can be added to a note in two ways: a direct upload from your PC (using drag-and-drop), or by using Google Drive
  • Presentations can also be put together within a note to provide a clean look and feel. A note can be divided into slides, or use an auto layout.
  • Reminders offer a gentle nudge to complete those nagging tasks. You can even add a scheduled date and timely reminder for a specific project.
  • Sync devices using Evernote’s free tier for a device-agnostic repository that allows you to organize notes on the go.

From simple notes taking to more advanced task-based features, Evernote offers a lot of power. The free version is adequate for note taking, as you have up to 60 MB of space, but we recommend the Plus Plan if you plan on using Evernote for project management with its 1 GB of monthly upload space ($34.99 annually). Evernote Premium allows 10 GB of monthly uploads ($69.99 annually). Use it for work, life and beyond.

3. Quickbooks

QuickBooks is a market leading accounting software, built with specifically for small businesses. The attractive UI makes it intuitive to manage all of your finances in one place. The dashboard is arranged in a logical, user-friendly way, making it a breeze to navigate, and also provides an overview of your account balances, income, and expenses (as well as tasks to complete). The functional tabbed areas highlight tasks that small businesses typically perform most often for quick-access: Accounting, Banking, Employees, Expenses, My Accountant, Reports, Sales, and Taxes.

QuickBooks Online’s Records and Reports are thorough and clear and detailed information can be captured in highly customizable report templates. Records can be created for customers, vendors, employees (e.g. billable time or weekly time sheets), products, and services (sales and purchase information, inventory). QuickBooks’ built-in functionality can be greatly extended as it supports the integrations of hundreds of third-party apps.

Pricing starts at $5.00 per month per user after a free 30-day trial and the software can be deployed using various options: Cloud, SaaS, Web. Web-based community and phone support are also offered.

While QuickBooks Online has formidable competition in the accounting software market, it’s still one of the best comprehensive, flexible, and extensible tools

4. Slack

Slack is a real-time messaging app that brings all your team’s communication together in one place. By integrating with multiple productivity apps and services (Google Calendar, Google Drive, Dropbox, Trello, Evernote, Twitter, Skype, Email, SalesForce, Zendesk, etc.) it can really streamline your workflow.

While the market for communication apps may seem fragmented, Slack is a great choice. The platform supports file sharing in both one-on-one and group conversations, and all discussions, decisions, and documents are archived and searchable. Slack also syncs to multiple devices, to accommodate your workflow. The free plan has searchable message archives, including up to 10,000 of your team’s most recent messages with 10 app or service integrations and 5GB of file storage.

Slack’s standard plan costs $8.00 per user, per month and includes the unlimited messages and integrations, with 10GB of file storage per person. Slack Plus costs $15 per user per month and includes an extra 20GB of storage per person, along with 24/7 support and a 4-hour response time.

5. Goodhire

If you want to scale your workforce, then recruiting the right candidates is a must. Alternatively, making the wrong hiring decision could leave your business open to all sorts of risks. That’s why careful screening of potential employees should be done without compromising accuracy.

GoodHire is an award-winning, employment screening platform, which simplifies background checks for a wide range of businesses. They offer quick and highly accurate background checks by verifying any potential candidate’s credentials, references, skills, and more. Employee verification can be customized with add-ons like credit checks, healthcare sanctions, drug screening and international checks.

Unlike most business tools, you pay based on your desired response time:

  • Basic – $29.99 per background check (1 business day):
    • SSN Trace + Associated Counties
    • National Criminal Database Search
    • Sex Offender List Search
  • Standard – $54.99 per background check (1-3 business days):
    • All Basic Features +
    • Domestic Terrorist Watch List Search
    • 7 Year County Criminal Court Search
  • Premium – $79.99 per background check (2-3 business days):
    • All Standard Features +
    • Education Verification
    • Employer Verification

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

James Wignall is a founder at www.gotkard.com. He specializes in all things technology related, from helping small businesses to empowering entrepreneurs.