| 17 October, 2023 | 23 Min Read

15 Essential Business Tools for Small Businesses

Are you a small business owner who wants to improve your efficiency and growth? You need to use business tools. In this article, we will reveal five business tools that are essential for small businesses and how they can help you.

Did you know that small businesses account for 99.9% of all businesses in the United States? Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, but they face many challenges and risks. That's why they need essential tools that can automate and simplify their tasks, saving them time and money.

Small businesses need to manage various aspects of their operations, such as human resources, customer relationships, design, marketing, and project management. Proper business tools are the greatest allies in assisting them in streamlining their workflows, improving their efficiency, and growing their business. 

This article will delve into the top five tools that every small business must have. We will compare and highlight the absolute best options available for each category.

1. HR Tool

According to the ADP survey, 64 percent of ad hoc HR managers are either business owners or company presidents. The survey also found that 20 percent of these managers' time is spent on performing HR functions. 

Considering whether spending 20% of your time on HR is the best use of your resources as a business owner is important. Perhaps it's worth exploring alternative options - adopting HR tools.

An HR tool or software application assists you in managing your human resources functions, such as recruitment, payroll, performance management, training, and compliance. Also, such human resource tools can help you automate and simplify your HR processes, reduce errors and costs, and enhance employee engagement and retention.

HR tools are crucial for small businesses because they can help you attract and hire the right talent, manage your employee data and records, comply with labor laws and regulations, and develop your workforce skills and competencies. 

Such tools can also help you create a positive work culture and environment that fosters productivity and innovation.

Name

Features

Pricing

WebHR

- A Social all-in-one Cloud based HR Software for Small & Medium Enterprises
- Enable you to manage your HR process from hire to retire, offering 45+ modules including Core HR, recruitment, payroll, performance, time & attendance, and more.
- Has a mobile app that lets you access your HR data anytime, anywhere.  
- Integrates with other popular tools like Microsoft Azure AD, Google Workspace, OneLogin, Okta, and more.
Free for 5 users with limited access. Paid plans start at $3/user/month

Grove HR

- A cloud-based human resource management software that optimizes and automates the human resource management process.  
- Allows you to manage the entire HR department's operational process in a single system.  
- Provides features like personnel information management, performance measurement and evaluation, onboarding/offboarding, recruitment management, attendance, leave management, and more. 
 - Has a convenient mobile app that empowers employees to easily request time off, access payslips, and review their peers' feedback.
Free for up to 50 employees. Starts from $3 per user per month.

Zoho People

- An online HR system that is part of the Zoho suite of business applications.  
- Enable you to manage your employee information, attendance, leave, time tracking, performance appraisal, training, and more. 
- Have a self-service portal that allows your employees to update their profiles, request leave, submit timesheets, and give feedback.
Start from $1.25 per employee per month.

To choose the right HR tool for your small business, you should identify your HR needs and goals, compare features and pricing, request a demo or trial, train your staff, and monitor results. 

If you are a beginner, you might want to check out this article about top free HR tools for SMBs to explore the benefits and features of different HR software solutions. 

2. CRM Tool

According to Zippia, using a CRM tool can increase sales revenue, shorten sales cycles, boost customer retention, and enhance customer advocacy. In fact, the average ROI for CRM spending is $8.71 for every dollar spent, which shows how profitable a CRM tool can be for your business. 

However, many small businesses do not use CRM tools because they are intimidated by the cost or complexity. It's important to consider whether losing these benefits is worth the risk as a business owner. Perhaps it's worth exploring alternative options - adopting CRM tools.

A CRM tool is a software application that helps you manage your customer relationship management functions, such as sales, marketing, customer service, and analytics. 

The tool can help you capture and organize customer data, communicate with customers across multiple channels, segment customers based on their preferences and behaviors, create personalized offers and campaigns, track customer interactions and feedback, and measure customer satisfaction and loyalty.

A relationship intelligence system is vital for small businesses because it can help you acquire new customers, retain existing customers, increase customer lifetime value, boost customer referrals, and enhance customer advocacy. 

The tool can also help you optimize your sales funnel, improve your marketing ROI, and gain insights into customer trends and opportunities.

Name

Features

Pricing

HubSpot CRM

- This CRM software offers a range of features for small businesses. 
 - Allows you to manage your contacts, deals, tasks, emails, calls, meetings, and more. 
 - Integrates with HubSpot's other products for marketing, sales, and service, as well as with other popular tools like Gmail, Outlook, Slack, and more.
Free plan with core features and paid plans starting from $50/month.

Zoho CRM

- A cloud-based CRM platform that is part of the Zoho suite of business applications.  

- Enables you to manage your leads, accounts, contacts, opportunities, quotes, invoices, and more.  

- Offers features like email marketing, social media integration, workflow automation, AI assistant, and analytics.

Starts from $14 per user per month.

Freshworks CRM

- Cloud-based CRM software that combines sales and marketing automation.  
- Helps you generate and qualify leads, nurture and convert prospects, close and renew deals, and upsell and cross-sell customers.  
- Provides features like email and SMS campaigns, web and mobile app tracking, chat and chatbot support, and reporting and dashboards.
Starts from $29 per user per month.

For instance, you might have one segment for young professionals and another for retirees. Next, customize your CRM tool to fit your business processes. This could mean integrating it with your email marketing software or setting up specific workflows.

Finally, use data and analytics to optimize your customer journey. For example, you can analyze customer behavior to identify key touchpoints and improve those areas.

3. Design Tool

Using a design tool can improve customer engagement, brand recognition, conversion rates, and customer loyalty. In fact, a report by Hubspot addressed that 75% of consumers judge a business's credibility based on its website design, which shows how important a design tool can be for your business's reputation. 

However, many small businesses do not use design tools because they lack the skills, time, or budget to create professional-looking designs.

A design tool is a software application that helps you create professional visuals and graphics for your business, such as logos, flyers, brochures, social media posts, and more. 

A design platform can help you enhance your brand identity, attract and engage your audience, and convey your message effectively.

It is important for small businesses because it can help them stand out from the competition, increase their brand awareness and recognition, and boost their credibility and trustworthiness. 

The tool can also help them save time and money by allowing them to create their own visuals without hiring a designer.

Some of the user-friendly design tools for non-designers are:

Name

Features

Pricing

Canva

- Online design platform that offers thousands of templates, icons, fonts, images, and more.  
- Allows you to create various types of visuals, such as logos, flyers, posters, social media posts, infographics, and more. 
- Has a drag-and-drop interface that makes it easy to use.  
- Integrates with other popular tools like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more.
Free for basic features. Starts from $9.95 per user per month for premium features.

Adobe Spark

- Cloud-based design tool that is part of the Adobe suite of creative applications. 
 - Enables you to create stunning graphics, videos, and web pages in minutes. 
 - Has a library of templates, themes, fonts, images, and more. 
 - Has a simple and intuitive interface that guides you through the design process.

Free for basic features. Starts from $9.99 per user per month for premium features.

Crello

- Online graphic design tool that offers over 50 million images, 12,000 templates, 250 fonts, and more. 
 - Allows you to create various types of visuals, such as logos, banners, flyers, social media posts, animations, and more. 
 - Has a user-friendly interface that lets you customize your designs with ease. 
 - Integrates with other popular tools like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and more.
Free for basic features. Starts from $7.99 per user per month for premium features.

To best utilize design tools to create compelling visuals, you should follow these steps or tips:

  • Define your purpose and goal: Before you start designing, you should have a clear idea of what you want to achieve with your visual, who your target audience is, and what message you want to convey.
  • Choose a suitable template or theme: After you select a design tool, you should choose a template or theme that matches your purpose, goal, and brand identity. You should also consider factors like color, layout, and style.
  • Customize your design: Once you have a template or theme, you should customize your design by adding or editing elements like text, images, icons, shapes, and more. You should also ensure that your design is consistent, clear, attractive, and, most importantly, matching your branding guidelines.
  • Download or share your design: After you finish your design, you should download or share it with your audience. You should also test your design on different devices and platforms to ensure that it looks good and works well.

4. Email Marketing Tool

Utilizing an email marketing system can dramatically broaden your clientele, amplify conversion rates, strengthen customer allegiance, and offer valuable analytics. In fact, a 2023 study by Luisazhou illustrates an astonishing average ROI of 4200%, underscoring the undeniable profitability that such a system can bring to your business. 

Nevertheless, a number of small businesses avoid these tools, viewing them as expensive, intricate, or time-intensive. As an entrepreneur, it's essential to assess whether forgoing these benefits is a risk you're willing to take. It could be worthwhile to explore different avenues, such as incorporating email marketing systems into your strategy.

An email marketing tool is a software application that helps you create and send email campaigns to your customers or prospects. Email marketing platforms can help you promote your products or services, build relationships with your customers, increase customer loyalty, and drive conversions.

The tool is significant for small businesses because it can help them reach a large and targeted audience at a low cost, personalize their messages based on customer data and behavior, track and measure their campaign performance and results, and optimize their email marketing strategy.

Some of the effective email marketing tools suitable for small businesses are:

Name

Features

Pricing

Mailchimp

- Online email marketing platform that offers a variety of features for small businesses. 
 - Allows you to create and send beautiful email campaigns using templates, drag-and-drop editor, or HTML code. 
 - Provides features like segmentation, personalization, automation, A/B testing, and analytics. 
 - Integrates with other popular tools like Shopify, WordPress, Facebook, and more.

Free for up to 2,000 contacts and 10,000 emails per month.

Starts from $9.99 per month for more contacts and features.

Constant Contact

- A cloud-based email marketing service that offers a range of features for small businesses. 
 - Enables you to create and send professional email campaigns using templates or custom designs. 
 - Offers features like contact management, email list building, automation, surveys and polls, and reporting and analytics. 
 - Integrates with other popular tools like Google, Facebook, Instagram, and more.

Starts from $20 per month for up to 500 contacts and unlimited emails.

Sendinblue

- Online email marketing platform that offers a variety of features for small businesses.  
- Allows you to create and send responsive email campaigns using templates or drag-and-drop editor. 
 - Provides features like segmentation, personalization, automation, transactional emails, and analytics. 
 - Integrates with other popular tools like WordPress, Shopify, WooCommerce, and more.
Free for up to 300 emails per day. Starts from $25 per month for up to 40,000 emails per month.

To use email marketing tools to create engaging campaigns and increase open rates, you should follow these best practices:

  • Write a catchy subject line: The subject line is the first thing your recipients see when they receive your email, so you should make it catchy, relevant, and enticing. You should also keep it short, clear, and personalized.
  • Use a clear and compelling call-to-action: The call-to-action is the main goal of your email campaign, so you should make it clear and compelling. You should also use action words, colors, and buttons to draw attention and encourage clicks.
  • Optimize your email design and layout: The design and layout of your email campaign should be optimized for readability, usability, and responsiveness. You should also use images, videos, and graphics to enhance your message and appeal to your audience.
  • Segment and personalize your email list: The email list is the foundation of your email marketing strategy, so you should segment and personalize it based on your customer data and behavior. You should also use dynamic content to tailor your email campaigns to each segment and individual.
  • Test and analyze your email campaigns: The test and analysis of your email campaigns are essential for improving your email marketing performance and results. You should also use A/B testing to compare different versions of your email campaigns and see which one performs better. You should also use analytics to measure your open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and more.

5. Project Management Tool

Leveraging a project management system can enhance your ability to strategize, implement, observe, and regulate your projects with greater efficacy and efficiency. 

Interestingly, a Monday.com study from 2022 reveals that organizations employing verified project management methodologies squander 28 times less capital compared to those who refrain from using them. This data underscores the prudent choice of integrating a project management system into your business operations.

A project management tool is a software application that helps you plan, execute, monitor, and control your projects. The tool can help you define your project scope, goals, tasks, milestones, resources, budget, and timeline. 

Task management tools can also help you collaborate with your team members, communicate with your stakeholders, track your project progress and performance, and manage any changes or issues.

It is essential for the growth of small businesses because it can help them deliver their projects on time, within budget, and according to specifications. 

Task management software, along with productivity apps, can also help them improve their team efficiency, quality, and productivity. A project management tool can also help them manage multiple projects simultaneously and align them with their business objectives.

Some of the comprehensive yet straightforward project management tools are:

Name

Features

Pricing

   

Trello

- Online project management tool that uses a board-based system to organize projects into lists and cards.
- Allows you to create and assign tasks and add comments, attachments, checklists, labels, due dates, and more.  
- Provides features like automation, power-ups, templates, and analytics. 
 - Integrates with other popular tools like Slack, Google Drive, Dropbox, and more.

Free for basic features. Starts from $9.99 per user per month for premium features.

   

Asana

- A cloud-based project management tool that uses a list-based system to organize projects into tasks and subtasks.  
- Enables you to create and assign tasks and add comments, attachments, dependencies, milestones, custom fields, and more.  
- Offers features like automation, timelines, portfolios, dashboards, and reports. 
 - Integrates with other popular tools like Gmail, Outlook, Slack, Zoom, and more.

Free for up to 15 users. Starts from $10.99 per user per month for premium features.

   
Notion - Customize pages with different views, such as tables, lists, boards, calendars, timelines, and more.
- Allows you to create and assign tasks add comments, attachments, statuses, priorities, deadlines, and more.
- Use templates and blocks to create different types of content, such as code snippets, tech specs, bug trackers, roadmaps
- Use Notion's API to build custom integrations and workflows.
- Sync data across devices and platforms and integrate with other tools like GitHub, Figma, Zapier
Freemium plan. Paid plans start from $8 per user per month    

To maximize the use of project management tools for better team collaboration and project execution, you should follow these tips:

  • Define your project scope and goals: Before you start using a project management tool, you should have a clear definition of your project scope and goals. You should also have a project charter or a document that outlines the purpose, objectives, deliverables, stakeholders, and roles and responsibilities of your project.
  • Choose a suitable project management tool: After you define your project scope and goals, you should choose a project management tool that suits your needs and preferences. You should also consider factors like ease of use, customer support, security scalability, and integration capabilities.
  • Set up your project plan and schedule: Once you have a project management tool, you should set up your project plan and schedule using the features and functionalities of the tool. You should also break down your project into manageable tasks, assign resources and deadlines, and monitor your progress and performance.
  • Communicate and collaborate with your team: After you set up your project plan and schedule, you should communicate and collaborate with your team using the features and functionalities of the tool. You should also share updates, feedback, and ideas and resolve any issues or conflicts.

Wrapping up

In this article, we have discussed five essential business tools for small businesses and compared some of the best options available for each category. These tools are:

  • HR tool: A software application that helps you manage your human resources functions, such as recruitment, payroll, performance management, training, and compliance.
  • CRM tool: A software application that helps you manage your customer relationship management functions, such as sales, marketing, customer service, and analytics.
  • Design tool: A software application that helps you create professional visuals and graphics for your business, such as logos, flyers, brochures, social media posts, and more.
  • Email marketing tool: A software application that helps you create and send email campaigns to your customers or prospects.
  • Project management tool: A software application that helps you plan, execute, monitor, and control your projects.

These tools can help you streamline your workflows, improve your efficiency, and grow your business. We encourage you to explore and invest in these tools to improve your business performance and achieve your goals. Thank you for reading this article. We hope you enjoyed it and learned something new.

 

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Reduce manual effort with automated HR processes

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