30 Game-Changing Productivity Tools for Small Business Owners

Updated on February 4, 2021
Advertiser Disclosure
productivity tools

Running any business is a complicated endeavor. But with the right productivity tools it can become a much simpler undertaking.  

It may feel like every little task requires specific thought and process—and if you don’t get it right, you risk losing sales, customers, or even the failure of your business entirely. It might feel like you’re sweating the small stuff while you’d rather be thinking big picture. Wouldn’t it be great to just do away with all these time-consuming admin tasks? Unfortunately, you probably can’t.

But the good news is you don’t have to do everything on your own.

Digital technology has solved many real-world business problems—and made many small business owners’ lives a lot better. Or at least more efficient.

productivity tools

We’ve outlined some awesome productivity tools that can help streamline your small business functions and processes so that you can focus on what you love best—growing your businesses.

How do you know which of these tools to use?

Think about your business’s priorities—and any concerns you might have about how your business is run. Ask your employees what would help them do their jobs better. This kind of insight will result in a more efficient and happier workplace for everybody.

Below are some of the main categories you might consider.

Best Productivity Tools: Team Communication

Streamlined team communication is a great place to start in terms of productivity boosting for small businesses. These are some of the most popular services.

  • Slack: Group chats are much better than they used to be, and this tech industry favorite has provided many solutions for timely or asynchronous team communication as well as collaboration. Team members can customize their own settings on Slack and share files directly with each other or large groups all at once. With many project management integrations to boot.
  • HipChat: HipChat is a lot like Slack with a little less functionality but with one major bonus: encrypted messages. If your business is particularly concerned about security, this may be a good option for you.
  • ChantyChanty is a cost-effective Slack alternative. It has fewer integrations but more storage for free plans. This is a good option for businesses looking to cut costs and keep office communication simple.
  • Calendly: Not every person on your team has a secretary. How much time do you think is wasted trying to figure out when individual team members are available to meet at the same time?

In comes Calendly, which easily assesses all team member calendars to determine the optimal time to schedule that meeting you need.

Best Productivity Tools: Digital Enterprise Management

This one is a little more complex, but could make your life so much easier.

  • G Suite: Consider this the mothership. What does G Suite do? The answer is: a lot. Wouldn’t it be great if you could purchase your domain, set up a customized email client, or manage and collaborate on internal documents all in once place? What if you could share calendars, track analytics for your website, and launch ad campaigns easily accessible on your phone, computer, or tablet? Enter G Suite. Starting at just $5 a month.

Best Productivity Tools: Human Resources

An all important and often overlooked aspect of many businesses. One of the most complex aspects of any business is its human resources department. Fortunately there are several services to help you out.

  • GoCo: Streamline benefits programs, payroll, document management, on and off boarding, performance tracking, and time-off management all in one place with GoCo.
  • Zenefits: A very similar product to GoCo. Billing itself as a “people platform,” Zenefits is totally integrated in the entire HR industry ecosystem, from managers, CEOs, brokers, carriers, and beyond.

  • Grovo: One characteristic of a small business a need to constantly tweak operations, figuring out what works as it goes along. What if you had a way to document this process for future employees? Grovo lets your employees share what others need to learn so that you can easily train new hires without having to reinvent the wheel every time. Grovo turns these trainings into “microlearnings” that new hires can quickly take on while on the job.

productivity tools

Best Productivity Tools: Recruiting

Making sure you hire the right people can feel like a daunting task for a small business. Here are a few ways to make that process much easier.

  • GoodHire: When it’s time to hire, you’ve got to take on background checks, identity verifications, reference checks, and employment verifications. And don’t forget pre-hire skills tests, credit checks, drug screenings, driving records and education/degree verifications are all complex processes. GoodHire can make it all happen in less than 24 hrs. 
  • Betterteam: When you’re looking for a good hire, there are times when you want to cast a wide net to make sure you get the best possible pool of applicants. Betterteam helps you distribute job listings across 100+ sites to make that process that much easier.

Best Productivity Tools: Outsourcing

As you’re probably aware, you don’t need to hire a full-time employee for every task, and your full-time employees might not fill a certain skill gap you sometimes need. This is where these two services come in.

  • Upwork: Upwork enables you to find freelancers and manage the working relationship with them all online.
  • Fiverr: Fiverr is another great tool for outsourcing small business needs, but it’s better for one-off tasks as opposed to long-term working relationships.

Best Productivity Tools: Project & Task Management

Probably one of the most important things to figure out at your small business is how your team works together. These are a few tools that can help you do that:

  • JIRA: The ultimate project management tool for software developers, JIRA is unrivaled in its ability to foster team collaboration as well as empower individual contributors. Multiple functionalities include calendar planning, project workflows, white board tools, and more.
  • Trello: Think of Trello as a superhuman to-do list that can help teams collaborate on all kinds of tasks and long-term projects. The structuring is highly customizable and user-friendly. 
  • Asana: Similar to Trello and absolutely free, Asana makes it easy to create private task management along with team management. With a beautiful user interface, Asana helps thousands of teams across many industries streamline project management.
    Basecamp: Yet another team and task management software, but slightly more integrated and enterprise-focused than some of the others. With built-in group chat as well as client-facing tools, Basecamp truly is a one-stop shop for task and project management. 
  • HelloFocus: Founded on the principle that excessive multitasking makes your employees less productive, HelloFocus helps prioritize and organize tasks so that what matters most can get taken care of first.

Best Productivity Tools: Customer Relationship Management  

How a business interacts with its customers can make or break it. These services help you do it right: 

  • Intercom: A great tool for web-based businesses, Intercom lets you set up live chat, education, and more for your web customers, making it easier to interact, engage, and communicate with them. 
  • Zendesk: Customer support done right. Zendesk allows you to manage and track inbound customer communications easily, integrate with your website, and streamline responses. 
  • Teamgate: Track sales from lead status to closing. Plenty of sales-focused CRM platforms exist, but Teamgate has a 100% satisfaction guarantee and offers a low monthly subscription rate after free trails. 
  • Insightly: Every industry and business has different CRM requirements, and Insightly lets you customize the product for your specific needs. Engage with your customers the right way and make their needs feel catered to. 
  • Salesforce: Salesforce is a full-scale customizer service tool helps your business build more meaningful relationships, connect with customers across multiple departments, and track insights on how to better manage your business. 
  • Zoho CRM: One of the only services that understands that CRM isn’t just on email anymore. Zoho CRM enables your business to engage with customers across many web platforms, including social media.

productivity tools

Best Productivity Tools: Social Media Management

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn … the list goes on. There are so many places for you to build your brand and engage with customers via social media these days. These social media management tools make that a much less daunting task.

  • Hootsuite: Hootsuite lets you manage all those platforms in one place and track success. 
  • Buffer: Buffer is designed to help you optimize traffic to your site via social media, this management tool will also streamline processes across platforms, saving you time and generating more engagement with potential customers. 
  • SproutSocial: Building your brand on social media is tough work. SproutSocial can help you manage that process and guide you along the way with robust analytics and success tracking. They can also help you identify topics your customers care about.

Best Productivity Tools: Finance

Keep your books in order with these digital tools:

  • Freshbooks: FreshBooks helps make invoicing easy, among other things. It helps you to request payment from customers, track hours spent on projects, manage expenses, and offer clients multiple ways to secure payments.

  • QuickBooks: Another great bookkeeping software service, QuickBooks lets you invoice customers, track your finances, and pay your employees. 

  • Expensify: Managing expenses can be a huge pain for small businesses. Expensify makes it easy to upload receipts and track expenses on credit card purchases.

Best Productivity Tools: Business Operations

This is no easy feat, but these tools can help keep it together.

  • Blendo: With so many moving parts, from sales to customer service, marketing and HR, Blendo lets you track data from all corners of your business so you can make sure you aren’t slacking in any one place—and learn where your business can make improvements from a bird’s eye view. 
  • Geckoboard: Transparency about business operations keeps employees engaged. Geckoboard lets you share business data with employees so that they can stay informed and feel invested in the business.

As you can see, there are plenty of productivity tools to help make your life easier and boost your small business. Many of these tools can certainly help.

Think long and hard about what your business needs before jumping into any process you’ll have to untangle yourself from—or expensive subscription service contract you can’t get out of.

But one thing is for sure—if your business has a process problem, there is probably a digital solution for it. Do your research and help your business be the best run business it can possible be.

Sally Lauckner
Editor-in-Chief at Fundera

Sally Lauckner

Sally Lauckner is the editor-in-chief of the Fundera Ledger and the editorial director at Fundera.

Sally has over a decade of experience in print and online journalism. Previously she was the senior editor at SmartAsset—a Y Combinator-backed fintech startup that provides personal finance advice. There she edited articles and data reports on topics including taxes, mortgages, banking, credit cards, investing, insurance, and retirement planning. She has also held various editorial roles at AOL.com, Huffington Post, and Glamour magazine. Her work has also appeared in Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, and Cosmopolitan magazines. 

Read Full Author Bio