19 Small Business Tools That Help Boost Productivity (2024)

19 Small Business Tools That Help Boost Productivity (1)

Anyone who’s ever worked for or owned a small business knows there’s no shortage of hurdles and hoops on the road to growth and success. For many, tools and technology represent one the most impactful—and challenging—spaces to navigate.

In fact, experts predict that U.S. small and medium-sized businesses will spend nearly $1.5 trillion on technology in 2023.

Yet small business owners often have minimal resources, especially as inflation soars. Ramping up marketing, managing tasks, or expanding your workforce are still critical priorities, but during lean times, you may have to do more with less.

At BambooHR, we understand the unique challenges that come with operating a small business. That’s why we’ve put together this helpful business tool guide. We’ll walk you through the best small business tools that could just make your life that little bit easier.

And if you're looking for an all-in-one solution, BambooHR's powerful software centralizes human resources, payroll, benefits, and more—all in a single, convenient platform. Plus, BambooHR integrates seamlessly with dozens of tools you already use and love. Learn more today!

A business tool is an application or piece of software designed to help organizations conduct their operations efficiently and effectively. Not only do these tools empower businesses to stay connected with their employees and customers, but they also help you stay competitive in the marketplace.

With trends and markets rapidly developing and changing in today’s digital world, the right small business tools can help your team stay up to date and in control.

The 19 Best Tools for Small Businesses

When time and money are both limited, you need to make the most of what you have. The right applications and free small business tools can help you maximize your time without breaking the bank.

So, which are the best tools for small business owners? We asked a handful of entrepreneurs for some of their top picks across several categories – including marketing, HR, project management, and more.

Take a look at their suggestions below.

Editor's Note: Don’t worry, these are not paid endorsem*nts — just authentic recommendations from users who’ve had awesome experiences with these tools.

Human resources is another aspect of an organization that requires a great deal of tracking and organizing. With employee records, paid time off, benefits packages, electronic signatures, time tracking, and more, there is a lot to manage within the HR department.

Doing everything manually can be a huge time sink, and it may cost you in other, less visible, ways – such as poor employee experience or compliance violations.

HR management tools for small businesses can help you streamline the most time-consuming processes of human resources, freeing up your time for big-picture efforts, like building a great company culture.

BambooHR

At BambooHR, we are all about setting people free to do great work. Our HR software makes things like employee data management, PTO tracking, and employee onboarding easy and effective.

Our software acts as an extra pair of hands when it comes to building your business, nurturing your employees, and creating company values. We keep an eye on your payroll, help you hire, and even monitor performance.

Evan Ropp from Homes Alive Pets says: “BambooHR is probably the best tool that we have adopted in the past two years…It has helped us manage our employees’ vacation days, sick days, and many many more headaches that were constantly consuming our time.”

An Award-Winning, All in One HR Solution

BambooHR® provides a one-stop shop to manage data and benefits, hire talent, run payroll, and help employees thrive. Best of all, it's easy and intuitive for busy HR teams!

Learn More Today

JazzHR

JazzHR specializes in applicant tracking and recruiting software to help you find and hire the best candidates for your organization. The platform can help you with every step of the hiring journey – from sourcing the right people to organizing interviews and reports.

Alex Robinson has found great success with JazzHR in his organization, Team Building Hero. “Once we started using JazzHR,” says Alex, “we became much more organized in our recruiting process. We are getting more done and saving time. I’d estimate we save 10+ hours on every new hire, plus the benefit of making good hiring decisions.”

You can check them out in the BambooHR Marketplace.

Goodhire

Goodhire can take care of all your background checks for potential and current employees, making the process simple, fast, and accurate. They want to make sure the people you hire are the best fit for you and your company.

As a small business ourselves, we recommend Goodhire if background checks are a part of your hiring process—which is why they also feature in the BambooHR Marketplace.

3 Must-Have Marketing Tools

To grow your business, customers and clients need to know who you are and how you can help solve their problems. That’s the core of marketing.

Of course, with the rise of content marketing, the number of media channels you can use to communicate that message has exploded. Between email newsletters and social media posts, it can be hard to keep track of what you’re trying to say and who you’re trying to talk to.

That is, it’s hard unless you have a business tool arsenal at your disposal.

Marketing tools can automate the process of publishing content and help you keep all your channels in sync. Some also provide insights into how your campaigns perform, so you can tailor your strategy to your target audience.

Best of all, you don’t have to be a marketing expert to use these handy small business tools. Content marketing is a key factor for ROI, meaning there’s now a whole host of beginner-friendly marketing tools to help keep you on track.

Here are some of the top tools our small business experts named.

Canva

Canva is a design tool that allows users to drag and drop images, text, and more to create their own graphics for both print and web. It’s one of the best free small business tools for design beginners and experts alike, helping you create picture-perfect campaign graphics, posters, and banners in just a few clicks.

Nicole Meyer of Nibbles By Nic uses Canva to create engaging social media posts, which has helped her “grow [her] business in a budget-friendly and time-saving way.”

Intercom

Intercom provides a messaging platform that allows businesses to communicate with prospective and existing customers. You can do this within their app, on their website, through social media, or via email. Intercom allows you to harness the power of efficient and streamlined customer comms, placing people at the heart of your brand (where they should be).

Alexander Sergeev, CEO of Hygger.io, recommends this tool for engaging with customers and learning more about your audience knowledge base.

MailChimp

MailChimp is a marketing automation platform specializing in email marketing. Not only can you use customized analytics, optimization tools, and AI to make the right decisions for your brand, the software also provides tons of smart suggestions. The specialized platform makes it easy for anyone to unlock the key to those prized conversions.

Nate Masterson, CEO of Maple Holistics, says: “The user-friendly marketing tool has helped us create a flexible email campaign that proved to be significantly more successful than our previous efforts. After switching to MailChimp, we saw our open rate jump to around 25 percent with a click rate of 5 percent.”

Of course, you won’t be able to determine if your marketing efforts are working or not without measuring the results. Analytics tools can help you do exactly this across all of your marketing channels.

They can gather, organize, and display your data so you can spend more time making informed, strategic decisions. Without this kind of analytics support, it can be near-impossible to find and dissect all the metrics that help you evaluate the effectiveness of your digital content.

Amplitude

Amplitude is a product analytics software that can help you understand your consumers and set your product strategy. The platform focuses on conversions and helps you to unlock the idle power of your products. It gives you room to experiment with A/B tests and gain valuable insights and data into what will work for your business.

One of the small business owners we interviewed, Alexander Sergeev, named Amplitude as his organization’s tool of choice for behavior analytics.

Google Analytics

If you have a website, or if you’re doing any kind of content marketing, then Google Analytics is a must-have tool for your small business. This platform is free and there to help you stay on track of site, app, and campaign performance.

Gain intricate insights only Google can get its hands on, which can help paint a picture of exactly who your audience is, where they’re coming from, and what they want to see.

Hotjar

One of our favorite small business tools here at BambooHR is Hotjar. This clever platform helps us understand user behavior on our website, collect feedback, and track the conversion funnel so we can constantly refine and adapt our strategy.

It’s more than simply seeing what users do on your site, it’s about understanding why they do it, and how to plan the best streamlined journey for them. But don’t just take our word for it, the likes of Nintendo, Adobe, and Microsoft all use Hotjar to get the best out of their sites.

3 User-Friendly Website Hosting Tools

You can’t execute your marketing initiatives without a successful website. And you can’t have a successful website without a reliable web hosting platform.

Possibly one of the most valuable tools for small businesses out there, web hosting involves paying a provider to host the contents of your website. Hosts also conduct server maintenance, software updates, and troubleshooting, meaning the health of your site is often taken care of for you.

Having the right small business tools to manage your website is crucial in providing great service to customers. Any site delays or issues may drive people to visit your competitors.

So, with all this in mind – which ones are the best of the best?

Bluehost

Bluehost is a hosting provider that serves as a great tool for small businesses and is especially valuable for WordPress websites. It offers comprehensive features (security, eCommerce, free site scripts, etc.) that are easy to use, along with excellent customer service.

Bluehost offers five types of hosting plans: shared, VPS (virtual private servers), dedicated, reseller, and WordPress hosting.

HostGator

Budget and beginner-friendly, HostGator offers unlimited bandwidth on disk space, FTP and email accounts, and MySQL databases. Not to mention, they offer 99.9 percent uptime, and your domain name is free for the first year – perfect for getting your first site off the ground.

Similar to iMotion, HostGator also hosts a handy website builder. This hosting provider also offers five types of hosting: shared, cloud, WordPress, VPS, and dedicated.

InMotion

InMotion is another reputable hosting provider that offers excellent security, support, and storage space. And, if you need to build your business’s website, you can easily do so with InMotion’s integrated website builder.

This provider offers six types of hosting, including shared, VPS, dedicated, cloud, reseller, and WordPress.

Keeping track of key numbers, like revenue and business expenses, is vital to building a successful organization. But there’s a lot that goes into running a business, and manually tracking all those figures invites human error and potentially costly mistakes.

Most small business owners don’t have an accounting background, so taking on the responsibility of tracking finances can be quite a challenge. After all, you opened your garden store because you have a passion for gardening, not logging inventory.

The best accounting tools for small businesses (like the ones below) can save you time while helping you maintain more accurate records.

Dubsado

Dubsado is a business management software platform that can help you balance invoices, contracts, appointments, and more. They’ve designed their system to make juggling all those numbers and tasks the easiest part of your job – rather than being something you dread tackling.

Christina Gwira, of NOYADESIGNS, says about the tool: “We’re a team of three and since we started using Dubsado, our marketing firm has grown in leaps and bounds…This has helped us increase our conversions and gain great trust with our clients.”

Sage Accounting

Another leader in this space is Sage Accounting. Sage has a variety of products that work alongside their accounting software, so small business owners can find multiple solutions for their finances, all in one place.

Not only does Sage offer streamlined accounting solutions, but the platform also culminates advice from industry experts, so you never have to feel like you’re doing this alone.

QuickBooks

One of the leaders in accounting tools for small businesses is QuickBooks. The platform offers accounting software geared toward small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). Millions of business owners use this tool to manage their books more quickly and accurately than ever before.

QuickBooks does all the hard work for you, by automatically tracking your ingoings and outgoings. As your business grows, and you’ve got a few more plates spinning, you can build on its capabilities to keep your well-oiled machine running.

2 Productivity-Boosting Project Management Tools

To-do lists are useful, but they can only stretch so far before you find yourself overwhelmed by the number of things that need to get done. Growing a small business is, ironically, no small job, and it takes your whole team working together to achieve success.

However, there are a lot of moving parts, even in the smallest teams. Keeping track of who’s doing what and when is tricky without the right small business tools to help.

Project management tools can help you keep everyone on task and on schedule, even as your team expands and your bandwidth increases. The best platforms can help you set up workflows for each project and foster collaboration between your team members. This will help to keep bottlenecks to a minimum and get your organization moving full speed ahead.

Asana

Asana is another highly-rated project management tool that can help your team track and manage their work.

Two of the small business owners we interviewed also recommend Asana: “At first I thought it was just a project management tool,” says Tom Malesic, president of EZSolution, “but we also use it for team agendas, to-do lists, and keeping track of communication. Our digital marketing agency has seen an increase in productivity after implementing Asana.”

Freedcamp

Freedcamp is a cloud-based project management and organization software that works great for smaller enterprises. And, as a free small business tool, it’s easy on the company budget. Freedcamp utilizes the power of checklists, charts, and progress reports, so you can whizz through your to-dos with efficiency.

Son Ngo, CEO of a small social enterprise called Tankscrib, explains: “Even without having an office, we could operate normally thanks to Freedcamp. Everything, such as creating projects, tasks, and subtasks; setting deadlines; and commenting on others’ work can be done online. This tool is genuinely useful, and I would recommend it to all my friends.”

Beyond the handy small business tools we’ve already listed, there are a handful of others that can help keep your organization running smoothly. They don’t necessarily fit into one of the categories above, but they’re worth mentioning if you’re interested in building a successful small business.

LastPass

LastPass is a tool that allows you to keep all of your passwords in one secure online vault—because a person can only remember so many combinations of capital letters and special characters, right?

Our team here at BambooHR uses LastPass (and we love it). Business owner Evan Ropp also enjoys using LastPass in his organization: “LastPass creates an amazing solution where I can have very secure passwords for every different website and service, but I don’t have to memorize these passwords. Rather, I can keep them in my LastPass vault, and all I have to do is remember one extremely secure vault password.”

Thumbtack

For freelancers, solopreneurs, or small service-based businesses, Thumbtack can be a great resource. It is an online service that allows customers to search for what they need before matching them with local professionals.

Jacqueline Basulto, the owner of a growing digital agency called SeedX, describes her business’s experience with Thumbtack: “Since the users are actively looking for help, it’s a much easier and more mutually beneficial sales process than usual. Thumbtack helped us grow from $0 to $200k in the first year with an initial investment of $20.”

Zendesk

Zendesk is a customer support software and ticket system to help small businesses connect with their customers and provide the best possible customer experiences. Alexander Sergeev reports that his team at Hygger.io use Zendesk to support their customers, and it has worked very well for them.

Final Thoughts: What Tools Should You Use for Your Small Business?

While these recommendations are a good place to start, only you can determine which small business tools are right for your specific organization. You probably have a list of tasks in your company you’d like to solve or simplify, be it running payroll or assigning projects.

Part of growing as a business is discovering new challenges, and finding solutions along the way.

So, how can you decide which tool is right to solve your top problems today and support your progress in the future?

You can follow the steps we suggest in our HR Software Buyer’s Guide below:

  • Determine current challenges and which activities would solve those challenges.
  • Determine challenges you will likely face within the next five years, and which activities would solve those challenges.
  • Identify all of the stakeholders who need to weigh in on this decision.
  • Figure out their main concerns for a potential solution.
  • Research potential small business tools and compile a list.
  • Identify which features would best support the activities you identified would solve your challenges.
  • Identify which features would address the concerns of each stakeholder.
  • Determine if each potential tool has the features necessary to solve your challenges and address stakeholder concerns.

You can also find your own that supports your organization in precisely the way you need. Either way, with the right tools and strategy, you can grow your business – even on a small budget and with limited time resources.

It's time to upgrade your HR software.

BambooHR® brings people analytics, payroll, benefits, and more into one easy-to-use platform.

Learn More Today

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19 Small Business Tools That Help Boost Productivity (2024)
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