On any given business day, small business owners are rushing to meetings, scheduling conferences, and connecting with business partners on video chat. Now more than ever, businesses need access to the best tech tools to organize their lives and projects. Below are some of the most popular tech tools small businesses use to stay productive without collapsing from exhaustion.
Webinars and Calls
Marketing executive Maria Elena Duron uses MobileDay to save the information she needs for conference calls and webinars. “It includes the time, phone number and automatically dials the passcode with one click,” Duron says. “It reminds me of a meeting and it’s truly hands free after that.”
Collaboration and Project Management
Jeetu Melwani, founder and CEO of Beaglo, recommends Trello, an app that helps businesses stay organized. “One starts by creating a board for each sub-project you have in your business and assign all members to the board,” Melwani says. “Within the board you can create lists of activities such as marketing, sales, testing, etc and create individual cards within that for each team member to work on.”
Evernote is another popular tool with many small businesses, including Strategic Communications. Owner/CEO Linda Pophal says, “I have just started to experiment with this but have been using it to capture background information for various projects or presentations that I’m working on. I like the ease of adding things, the searchability, and the fact that I can access from anywhere through any device.”
Jon Gelberg, chief content strategist for Ceros, recommends Google Hangouts for connecting with remote workers. “We have just over 30 employees, but they are spread through seven countries on four continents. Google Hangouts allow us to remain in constant contact, working collaboratively and effectively. Tools like this allow small businesses to hire for talent and not geography! And, obviously, you can’t beat the price.”
SalesVu is a free mobile payment billing app that lets businesses accept payments on the go. “I couldn’t do business without it,” says PR and marketing executive Dave Manzer. “It’s easy to set up my service packages, add discounts, then bill electronically. I can also swipe credit cards for on the spot transactions. The 2.7% transaction fee is
hard to beat, too.”
Expedition PR uses PaymoBiz for their invoicing. “We can track time for projects by billing rate, which helps us to manage billing and client expectations,” the firm’s president, Katja Schroeder, says. “The software has a widget that you can install on your desktop for easy time tracking, as well as mobile apps for iPhone and Android.”
Tom Demers, co-founder and managing partner of Measured SEM, recommends FreshBooks for invoicing. “We send out our own invoices, and because we have a combination of recurring fees and project based fees, flexibility is really key here. My business partner and I aren’t finance guys and are working on invoicing in addition to a number of other responsibilities, so having a simple, easy to user interface is key.”
Waze provides turn-by-turn navigation with real-time traffic updates posted by users. The app has, “a clear interface, accurate traffic times and a fun social component,” says Paul Wilke of Upright Position Communications. “With every Apple/Google Maps improvement, I leave Waze to try them out, but I always come back. An added plus for Waze is their lightning-fast customer service responses to any map errors you spot.”
Patrick Conley of Automation Heroes recommends InfusionSoft, a sales and marketing automation tool that gives small businesses the ability to automatically land new customers, follow up with prospects, process payments, and much more. “All-in-one software packages like InfusionSoft allow businesses to capture leads and track the lead
source profitability, automate their repetitive pieces of the sales process for major scalability, and use conditional marketing to treat each prospect uniquely.”
The ability to scan no longer has to be tied to the office environment. GeniusScan lets you scan items using the camera on a smartphone or tablet to e-mail to colleagues or simply save for documentation. “I rely on my Genius Scan app to snap a picture of my document, clean it up, and convert it into a PDF that I can easily email without ever travelling to the local print shop or back to the office,” says Jennifer Stagner, eCommerce manager for Tops Products.
Foundry Group managing director Brad Feld recommends TextUs.Biz Receptionist. “We’ve been able to redesign the entry to our office to be receptionist-less as a result of TextUs.Biz Receptionist,” says Feld. “In our attempt to be more monastic, the app lets us have a regular flow of visitors through our office who get immediately connected with the right person without interrupting others.
For managing multiple social media accounts, Aftershock Enterprises‘ Joshua C. Norris recommends Hootsuite. “This tool has helped take production time down for scheduling updates on over 100 different profiles,” Norris says. “Very user-friendly and a must-have tool for social media.”
With so many tools available, small businesses can be more productive than ever. Find the best one for each of your needs and be sure to tell other small business owners how technology has improved your operations.