The 23 Best Business Tools Built By Startups
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
You might not realize it, but some of the best new tools available for business owners today are being made by startups. Here are 23 tools and apps I love and use that could make your business better:
This is a lightweight Wordpress plugin that provides a one-stop solution for managing editorial calendars for blogs or websites that regularly publish content. It also automates social-media promotion when posts are published. Coschedule currently costs $10/month per website.
This service bills itself as “A/B testing you’ll actually use” and focuses on making testing as easy as possible. It allows you to track what you are actually interested in (as opposed to tracking information and data that you’re not going to use) and also allows you to set deadlines and run reports for specific timelines.
UserTesting records actual users as they view your app, website or other digital product. It records video of the user’s screen, and they are given tasks to complete on the platform being tested. They can create annotations for notes and also verbally give their feedback as they are working their way through the experience.
It offers a single video for $50, or pro plans that are $225/month for small businesses and $1,250 for enterprise businesses. The pro plans offer much more robust feedback and reports based on the user test findings.
This tool allows you to not only see your users’ behavior when they are using your online tools or apps, but it also helps you interact with them through popups while they are on specific pages or using specific features. This type of user interaction can help further your product development and customer service. Intercom ranges in monthly pricing packages from free to $99, depending on how many features you need.
Slack is an easy-to-use searchable-team communication platform that integrates with existing software that your team is probably already using, such as Dropbox, Google Drive and MailChimp. Slack currently ranges in price from free to $12.50 per user, depending on which features are needed. Pricing is based on an annual payment.
Fuze is a video and conference-call service that also allows users to type and send files during calls, record calls for later purposes and send participants calendar invitations directly from the app. It can be used via the web, its downloadable program (which is required for video calls), mobile app or via a conference-call number. The top-level plan also allows the facilitation of webinars. Its plans range from free (up to three call participants) to $40 per month.
Mailbox was created to optimize the email experience on mobile. You can swipe new emails to either trash or archive them, and can also schedule emails to reappear in your inbox at a specific period of time. Mailbox is currently free and available for iPhone, iPad, Android and a beta version for Mac OSX.
This app, currently only available for iOS, is a helpful optimized calendar that works with your existing calendar information (as well as the Internet) to make your life easier. For instance, it alerts you when you need to leave to make a meeting on time and automatically inputs conference-call codes to make dialing in easier. It has in-app purchases, but is free to download.
ZenPayroll aims to make employee payroll easy. It allows you to integrate with existing systems (such as human-resources platforms, invoicing platforms or insurance-plan management tools) to make employee management simpler.
Xero provides online accounting and invoicing services for small businesses and accountants or bookkeepers. It integrates add-on services such as popular payment, customer-relationship management and business tools such as PayPal and Salesforce. In addition, it integrates with your online banking, so you can automatically sync banking transactions. Pricing plans ranges from $20 to 40 per month.
This service is an online help desk that also integrates with your email, documents and other apps to make customer service as easy as possible. You can also use one user account to manage the help desk for multiple brands or domains, making it ideal for outsourced support desks or companies that own more than one product. It currently costs $15 per user per month.
This unique service is a tiny component of web design, yet crucial to the user experience. IconFinder helps you find the perfect icons for your apps, promotions or websites. You can either pay a per-icon rate or a monthly membership fee for its premium offerings, which are higher quality. There are also some free icons as well, depending on what you are searching for.
Drip describes itself as “marketing automation that doesn’t suck.” It offers marketing, trial and customer-email automation that makes campaigns easier. Once you choose an opt-in form, it walks through the automation set-up process, all on a lightweight platform. Plans range from $49 to more than $149 per month, depending on email volume, size of email list and desired features.
Canva makes great graphic design within anyone’s grasp. It has hundreds of pre-designed layouts, elements, fonts and image styles that make it possible to design everything from a great Twitter header to a flyer for your business. It offers free design elements, but also allows you to buy premium elements piecemeal, for about $1 each (at the moment). It also keeps track of all your designs in your account, so you can re-edit or re-download them as needed.
This service is a lot like If This, Then That (IFTTT), but for businesses. You can connect your well-known apps you are already using to automate your work process. For instance, every time you are assigned a new task in your company’s project-management platform, it will automatically create a calendar alert to reminder you to finish it. The pricing plans for Zapier run from free to $150 per month, based on the number of “zaps” (such as automated tasks) that are needed to run.
Buzzsumo is a content analysis and discovery tool to help you find out what type of content does best for a specific topic or industry. It also helps you identify influential online users that could help you promote and share your content. You can also research specific domains to see their social backlinks and which pieces of content are the most popular. Buzzsumo has a free account for viewing information, but the paid options (ranging from $99 to more than $499) allow you to export reports and alerts.
17. When I Work
This tool (disclosure: I'm the vice president of marketing at the company) aims to makes scheduling hourly employees as easy as possible. You can create and send out work schedules for the next week just as easily on a mobile device as you can from your computer. Managers can text employees when their new schedule is out, and they can also request time off from the When I Work app on their phone. Plans range from $9 to $49.
BambooHR is focused on turning human resources back into what it is supposed to be: interacting with employees, not tracking data in spreadsheets. Its interface is focused on making data (such as time off, benefits and personal information) about employees easy to search and accessible by both the HR team and the employees themselves. Its pricing structure is based on the number of employees and ranges from $69 a month to $2,999 a month for 1,500 employees (beyond that requires a custom quote).
This is an edocument signing service that lets all parties sign a document digitally, while still being legally binding. In addition to an online platform to upload and send out documents, it also integrates with Google so you can upload documents that need to be signed right from Gmail. Its free plan allows for the signing of up to three documents per month, and $13 per month (when paid annually) for unlimited document signings, but one template. The $40 monthly plan allows for five templates and unlimited signatures.
This service allows you to “boomerang” your email to remind yourself to follow up with it at a later date. It will bring the email thread back to your inbox, making it great for following up with clients, sales contacts and other colleagues if they don’t respond. It has a free account that offers 10 boomerangs per month and also offer higher-level options from $4.99 to $49.99 monthly.
The CrashPlan from Code42 automatically backs up your computer’s files online with unlimited cloud storage (which is its main draw). The personal version starts at $4 per month and the family plan starts at $9. There are also custom quotes available for business backup plans.
Sqwiggle is a collaboration tool that is perfect for teams that are remote or have telecommuting members. Along with video and text chat, it also periodically takes photos of team members as they work (so everyone feels more connected), allows for easy file sharing and also utilizes minimal bandwidth (something Google Hangouts and Skype occasionally have issues with, according to some users). It offers a free plan, and also has two other plans that are $9 and $25 per user, per month.
This is a business intelligence-gathering tool that allows you to gather data from any source, as well as combine, analyze, visualize and store it. It allows you to combine data and information from other tools, such as Yammer and Salesforce. It doesn’t offer pricing options on its website.
What other tools would you add to this list? Add them as a comment below.