Running a business can get complicated. Really complicated. Between managing projects, keeping track of resources, meeting customer demands, maintaining a brand, and chasing down invoices, there’s always another thing to do. And those are only the fundamentals. Consider all the effort it takes to court customers, build your network, optimize your online presence, hire new staff, launch marketing and sales campaigns… The list goes on.
How do successful business owners stay on top of it all? Is it time-travel? Copious amounts of coffee?
While caffeine can certainly boost productivity, thriving businesses are leveraging technology to elevate customer experience and the efficiency of business operations. But, given the sheer number of options out there, identifying and employing the right tools can become a job unto itself. So many search results, so few intelligible answers.
Fortunately, we here at Ruby have done some of the heavy Google-lifting for you. Below, you’ll find a comprehensive list of 101 tools for business owners. Feel free to scour the entire list or jump to a section that meets your immediate needs. And be sure to bookmark this page so you can return to it next time you face a business challenge.
Project Management and Collaboration
Don’t let work about work overtake the work itself. Whether your business comprises a small team, multiple groups in multiple offices, or just one person (i.e. you), there are numerous solutions out there that will make project management and collaboration fast, easy, and—dare we say—fun. Here are our favorites:
Document Creation and Storage
If your company is like 99.99% of businesses in existence, at some point you’ll need to generate and keep track of a couple (or a couple thousand) documents. Consider these the essentials—the tools you need to create and store bylaws, budgets, letters, proposals, and so forth.
Time Tracking and Travel
Your time is a precious resource. Don’t take it for granted or let it go to waste. The following tools can help you organize meetings, track working hours, plan trips, optimize your and your team’s schedules, and more—all without consuming valuable time from your day.
General Business Information and Guidance
Business ownership can be a tough, unpredictable, and at times lonely experience. But no matter how isolated or overwhelmed you may feel, you’re never alone. Both the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and SCORE can put you in touch with mentors and other business owners, and provide you with the education, informational materials, and training (virtual and in-person) you need to succeed.
From banks to venture capitalists, there may be plenty of people and organizations out there who are interested in helping your business grow. Use these tools to explore your options and get in front of some decision-makers.
Accounting and Bookkeeping
Unless you’re a CPA, you probably didn’t get into business to work with financial information all day. And if you do do accounting or bookkeeping for a living, you’re probably going to need more than a pencil and paper. The following tools allow you to track income and expenses, create and send invoices, and file your taxes with ease.
Staffing, Recruiting, and Contracting
Hiring for a new position and on the hunt for talent? Need a contractor for a one-off project or an ongoing need? You don’t need to rely on community job boards or settle for your neighbor’s out-of-work cousin. Use these tools to find candidates—and have them compete for the opportunity to work for you.
Websites and E-commerce
Designing a website can be a costly prospect, especially if you sell products online. It’s no surprise that many businesses struggle to maintain an internet presence—a good number of business owners simply can’t afford a professional website designer. These tools empower you to do everything yourself, from the basic elements (building homepages, implementing shopping carts, accepting payments) to the more advanced (reducing visitor bounce rates, carrier rate shopping, learning code).
Your business’s look and feel are more than aesthetic considerations. A well-designed logo, advertisement, piece of marketing content, or user experience delights your customers, ultimately boosting loyalty and generating more sales. Unleash your inner designer with these affordable (or free) tools.
Content and Video Creation
Content, particularly video content, is one of the most effective means of reaching your audience. As hours of footage get uploaded to YouTube every second, no business can afford to sit on the sidelines. Create eye-catching videos and other engaging content (hello, blog posts!) with these tools.
Marketing and Social Media
Word-of-mouth marketing is the single most effective form of advertisement for a company, and providing a stellar customer service experience is key in creating loyal customers who recommend your business. However, other marketing and social media efforts can definitely be helpful in getting your name out there. Avoid agency costs and start spreading your own message with these marketing, advertising, and social media tools.
Customer Engagement and Satisfaction
Speaking of customer service, it’s a good idea to focus on that—perhaps even before you launch a concerted marketing effort. When used in tandem with a superb customer relationship team, these tools ensure you never miss an opportunity to forge connections with the people who matter most to your business. Wow your customers, and who knows? Word of mouth just might save you some money otherwise spent on a campaign.
Whether they realize it or not, customers are searching for your business. It’s your job to help them find you. How? By harnessing the power of the algorithm. Ensure your website and landing pages reach the top of search results with these essential search engine optimization (SEO) tools.
Ah, public relations. If your business does PR well, it can become a beloved company—or at least one whose personality has earned a dedicated following (think of Wendy’s, for instance). If you manage the press and your public image poorly, however, your business will appear unkind, boring, out of touch, or—worst of all—invisible. Here are six tools you can use to monitor public sentiment, coordinate media communications, and build your reputation.
Networking can bring you into contact with life-changing partnerships and opportunities. Grow your circle and discover what’s out there with these networking tools.
Security and Privacy
Businesses face greater security threats than ever—and confidential data (such as your customer’s private information) is at risk. Don’t treat protection as an afterthought. The following tools will help you balance security with productivity, so you can keep your and your customers’ data safe without sacrificing the necessary flow of information.
Legal and HR
While it is a good idea to hire a qualified attorney for your business, there are times when it’s smarter (and cheaper) to do things yourself. In other words, you don’t need to bother your legal representative with every single piece of paperwork. And the same is true for human resources-related matters as well. Take a look at these tools before calling your lawyer or HR manager.
Whew! There you have it: 101 tools you can use to stay productive, successful, and in control of your business. Keep in mind that these tools are meant to bolster—not replace—the human element in your business. Your greatest resource are the human beings you choose to work with and for!