For small business owners, time is at a premium. Even a few more minutes each day could help us check some of those items off our always-growing to-do lists. Sure, we all know there are plenty of productivity apps out there to help, but choice overload is a real thing.
We’re here to help narrow those options down a little for you. We’ve gathered some of our favorite productivity tools, along with a few suggestions from experts on how you can get the most out of them.
But before we dive deeper, let's quickly define what productivity is.
What Is Productivity?
Productivity is the ability to complete a complex and varied array of tasks in an efficient manner. For businesses, productivity growth is important because providing more goods and services to consumers translates to higher profits. As productivity increases, an organization can turn resources into revenues, paying stakeholders and retaining cash flows for future growth and expansion.
Now, you know what productivity is, let's now walk you through the list of the 13 best productivity software for small businesses.
If the Notes app on your phone is jam-packed with nonsensical text, Evernote could make your life easier. Just snap a photo or tap out a quick reminder as you’re going throughout your day, and you’ll have a point of reference whenever you’re ready for it. But even within Evernote, there are a few things you can do to better organize your life.
Tyson Stevens, the Founder of Eduref says, "Evernote is the best note-taking tool for employees who need to jot down notes on a regular basis. Evernote is a location where you can keep all of your notes, documents, photographs, and brain dumps in one spot. You can take notes by typing or using voice-to-audio technology. Evernote will save and sync your notes for you automatically.
This enhances productivity by removing the need to use sticky notes to cover your monitor—you can just use Evernote's search function to get exactly what you're looking for in seconds."
Asana is one of the most widely used project management and communication tools designed to help small businesses. According to Sarah Jameson, the Marketing Director at Green Building Elements, Asana aids in the organization of projects and tasks so that teams can stay on track. You may use Asana to keep track of your team's objectives, plans, projects, files, and more in one central location. With a listview, timeline, boards, or calendar view, you can see your work in any way you like. It allows you to quickly see dependencies, visualize actions, and specify each process phase. You can also use automation rules to modify and streamline your workflow."
Nicolai Lonne, the Co-founder and CTO of DiveIn agrees with Sarah Jameson. Nicolai further adds that "Asana helps you and your employees stay on top of your to-do lists, calendars, and project progress. You can sign up for Asana online - there is a free version that I find very helpful, but the premium version definitely offers a lot more.""Asana is a project management tool and corporate productivity app that aims to keep teams on track with their goals, tasks, and deadlines. It allows you to create projects, set objectives, and track progress by combining goal-setting with a deadline calendar. Project timelines and a team calendar view are some of the tools available in Asana to help you visualize where you are in your project," says Austin Peng, the General Manager at Dekmake.
Trello is a good productivity app for process-based projects and tasks. Using Trello involves creating boards and dragging various tasks in between steps. It's a quick, easy and visual way to understand where your workers are in the process.
Sam Shepler, the CEO of TestimonialHero, a Boston-based B2B video testimonial creation SaaS company asserts that "as an individual and as a company, I have put my complete trust in the Trello system. It's perfect for me since I work with a lot of visuals and words on a daily basis.
Trello’s Kanban board system makes it easy to attach any kind of file and link. The drag-and-drop interface and real-time updating change log on each card make it helpful to track different team members’ activities throughout the whole project."
"If you want a very basic and simple team-level tool, Trello would probably be a good choice. However, if you ever try to scale that capability, you will probably need a different tool," says Isla Sibanda, the owner of Privacyaustralia.
"Trello is used for managing projects by creating different boards and giving them due dates, creating lists within those boards where tasks are included which requires to be done on priority basis. To-do lists can be added in each card," says Farhan Advani, the Director Marketing at Buy Here Pay Here.
#4. Google Docs
Google Docs, a part of Google Drive, and is the most popular and arguably the best free online word processor available. "This easy to use tool allows for quick access to documents and tasks - no need to download separate apps," says Max Benz, the Founder and CEO at Kochboxguru.
Creating, uploading, saving, sharing, and collaborating on documents with Google Docs is easy, and you can create and edit with a rather impressive selection of formatting options.
"Google Docs is helpful for international businesses. You can translate over 100 languages and share. Google Docs also has spreadsheets and slides," says Janice Wald, a blogger and blogging coach at Mostly Blogging.
The Notion app is a mobile-friendly web platform that provides an effective solution for organizing and prepping for interviews. It allows employers to create questions, schedule interviews with multiple candidates, and notify the right people based on their specific criteria using custom tags.
"Notion is an awesome list and notes based productivity app," says Heyn Bennett of Parker Marker. According to Michael Hamelburger, the CEO of Sales Therapy, a brand where they help marketing agencies boost their closing rate by coaching them on game-changing sales strategies, "The interface of Notion is user-friendly, so both employers and job seekers will be able to easily navigate through options such as creating new posts or viewing posts by others without any difficulty."
"Notion is one tool for your entire team. It can be used for many purposes: as a reference, project management tool, intranet website, co-authoring documents, and more. You can maintain a database, attach YouTube videos, attach files, write text in blocks and arrange them as you like," says Tim Absalikov, Co-founder and CEO of Lasting Trend, a digital marketing agency in New York.
"We’ve been using Notion to organize our entire organization. From managing our marketing campaigns, projects & objectives to externally facing product roadmaps, tech stack database and more. The notion is incredibly customizable and the real-time collaboration features make it a great choice for teams," says Carsten, the growth and marketing head at Paperless.
"Notion makes life easier for those that want an all-in-one workspace and goal-tracker solution for work, life, and team alignment. With the ability to customize your Notion "home" as you see fit, share projects + articles with team members, and organize your workspace from the ground up, Notion is a blank slate that can be used in an array of ways," says Gerald Lombardo, Co-Founder of The Word Counter.
Salesforce remains a key piece of the productivity suite for small and medium-sized businesses that want a more real-time conversation with their teams. The app benefits businesses by grouping everyone (or select teams) into a chat room so that announcements, discussions, or more informal chats can take place in one interface.
Salesforce has many social media integrations. The core service is free, with paid plans offered for additional features geared toward businesses. Android and iOS apps can keep the conversation going on mobile devices
According to Elise Moores, the Managing Editor of Fast Capital 360, Salesforce has enabled our team to eliminate data-entry activities, design custom salesflows and automate processes, giving our salespeople more time to sell. Beyond those efficiencies, the centralization of customer data makes it easier to spot and prioritize genuine sales opportunities.
Speaking of email productivity, a chat app can save you hours of time each week. Instead of firing emails back and forth between your team, you can set everyone up in Slack to communicate in real-time. The chat app lets you set up channels to segregate your conversation to make it even more productive.
Milosz Krasinski, the Managing Director at Chillifruit, a web consulting company says "these days, small businesses really do need to arm themselves with some great tools if they want to be productive while keeping costs down. I use Slack to help me stay connected to my team.
Ali Tarek from Fishing Creative says "Slack helps me in communicating with my entire team effectively online. If your team wants to keep discussions divided by clients, projects, tasks, or company announcements, channels are the outlet for that. You can also set up a channel just to let employees take a little break from work to chat about the weekend or their favorite sports teams.
According to 360QuoteTeam, "Slack is perfect for communicating with distant workers. So that no one receives messages or notifications unrelated to them, instant messaging is organized into channels that team members can join and leave as required."
"Our teams use Slack channels for targeted collaboration. All communication concerning a project flows through these channels, giving the team a central reference point to find the details of a project, pertinent files, and anything else needed to keep us all connected and on the same page," says Elise Moores, the Managing Editor of Fast Capital 360.
"You can’t collaborate if you don’t communicate. For day-to-day communication and managing our daily projects, we use Slack. We can easily collaborate on projects, quickly share files, and have group discussions about project issues, and chit chat about other matters," says Hamna Amjad, the Outreach Manager at Physicians Thrive.
#8. Google Keep
Gmail users should also look into Google Keep, which integrates with the popular email tool. When you add reminders to Google Keep, you’ll see them in your inbox, ensuring you won’t forget about them. Once you’ve created a reminder, you’ll see the Keep icon to the right of your inbox, where Google stores all the apps you use frequently for easy access. Just click on the Keep icon to see all the notes you’ve left for yourself.
According to Dylan Orosz, the Lead Business Expert for Step By Step Business, "Google Keep provides me with a visual board of custom reminders, color-coordinated lists, and website hyperlinks I want to check in on later or cross off as I accomplish. For both personal and professional use, syncing between desktop and mobile, Keep can do just that - help you keep track of your life."
This project management tool is designed to help you manage everything in one place, from to-do lists to entire projects. In ClickUp, you can set goals and break them into individual tasks, which is ideal for a professional interested in moving to the next level. You can customize the interface to meet your personal preferences, which works well for some people. For others, though, that flexibility can feel a bit overwhelming.
"ClickUp is a good project management tool that is cost-effective. You can use them for free but with limited features. However, they offer affordable prices depending on your business needs. For small business owners, you can avail of their $5 monthly subscription and enjoy its unlimited features," says Victoria Wildhorn, Content Specialist of Mattress Clarity.
Anne-Sophie Pelletier, the Operations Consultant at Pelletierconsulting also uses ClickUp to communicate and collaborate on marketing, content creation, business planning and OKRs, production of inventory or service delivery, etc.
eWay is a CRM tool for Outlook, but it includes many other activities which make it more a business software for operations, sales, marketing, project, and financial specialists," says Lidka Weinzettl, the Marketing Director of eWay.
There is the attendance administration part. It is connected with the calendar with the possibility to link it to other account tools. It can generate weekly or monthly reports of personal productivity. So, it is not only providing sheets with financial reports but productivity reports as well.
#11. Rescue Time
RescueTime is a personal analytics service that shows you how you spend your time and provides tools to help you be more productive. "It helps to enhance your productivity. It always tracks your real habits. What's more, you can't alter your practice until you realize what they are.
Before using the app, I managed my daily work in about 11 hrs. But now with the help of the rescuetime app, I manage to do the same amount of work in 6 to 7 hrs. It has helped me a lot to be productive and concentrate more on my work instead of distracting me here and there," says Laura Jimenez, owner of Ishine365.
"We started using rescuetime as a way to track focus. With too many todo's and constant pinging from messaging apps, it's shown how much time we are wasting on distractions and trying to get back on track after a distraction," says Amazon Fee Calculator.
ActivTrak is a leading workforce analytics and productivity software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that provides data-driven insights through intuitive reports and dashboards to improve workforce productivity and operational efficiency.
According to Harrison Tanner Baron, CEO & Founder of Growth Generators, "Activtrak is great in that the results it shows can be found in the work your employees give you. When I started using Activtrak, I noticed that my employees' activity was increasing. As their activity increased I found that we were getting more clients than ever before. Therefore, I realized that the amount of work my employees were putting in was exactly what Activtrak was showing."
Paraphrase is a productivity tool that helps you quickly reword an original text, such as a document, essay, paragraph, or sentence; yet, still retains the meaning of the original text while rephrasing its surface structure. It has 15 paraphrasing modes in over 100 languages, including the options to simplify, clarify, smooth, and correct errors in their writing.
#14. Streak for Gmail
Streak for Gmail is a great productivity tool for small businesses. Tudor Armand Ciuleanu, the CEO/Founder at RebelDot says “Streak for Gmail is a great tool that helps me be more productive while reading, organizing, finding, and sending emails.
You can quickly create shortcuts, use templates, and even track when the emails are opened. Mail Merge will allow you to send a bunch of customized emails at once (but as separate emails) after pairing your Gmail with an Excel Spreadsheet. We all spend a ton of time in our emails, so why not try to find a way to enhance what you do. Streak for Gmail does exactly that!”
#15. Google Calendar
The last productivity software for small businesses is Google Calendar. “Google Calendar is a tool that I find essential for small business productivity. By using this tool, you not only keep all your appointments in order but also customize each appointment to suit your current schedule. Having a small business involves dealing with people in other countries and different time zones, so you need a calendar that updates all your schedule's events at the right time. As well as saving time and being more productive, this application will let you receive notifications based on where you need to go, what meetings you need to plan, or what tasks you need to accomplish,’ says David Adler, Founder & CEO of The Travel Secret
Having the right tools in your productivity arsenal will help your team stay focused on the tasks that’ll make your small business grow. All the tools we went over in this post are either free, have a free option, or cost very little to use, making them sound investments.
The return on investment? More things are done.