Productivity Tools

10 Essential Tools That Give Small Businesses a Big Edge

To succeed, a small business has to leverage every resource it has available.
10 Essential Tools That Give Small Businesses a Big Edge
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Author of A Paperboy's Fable: The 11 Principles of Success
5 min read
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Existence and survival are the first two stages in the development of a small business, according to a five-stage model put forward by the Harvard Business Review. Small businesses are more likely than large ones to face threats from finances, innovation and barriers to market entry.

To survive and thrive in such an environment, small-business owners need to be frugal and calculating with their resources to fully harness the power of what’s readily available to them. Here is a list of the latest tools that small businesses can use to maximize their profitability.

1. Due

Despite consumer credit card dependency, card processing systems are (often) still slow and expensive. Due aims to solve business processing headaches with one streamlined solution. Due’s payment solutions offers highly secure and expedited credit card processing at a rate of just 2.8 percent. Additionally, Due prides itself on transparency and users never face additional monthly or hidden fees.

Related: Looking for a New Payment Company? You're 'Due' for Some Good News.

2. MouseFlow

Ever wanted to get more insight into how your customers are actually interacting with the features on your site? MouseFlow has a solution: the tool takes a CCTV-like recording of the activity of each visitor on your site. MouseFlow forms heat maps of where your users have been putting their cursors on the various pages of your website, allowing you to home in on which features are the most intuitive and best received by the average visitor.

3. You Need A Budget (YNAB)

“You Need A Budget” sounds like a tagline, but it’s actually the name of the service itself. YNAB helps businesses with their accounting and legal needs by offering a number of debt visualization and categorization techniques -- valuable software when you consider that one third of all small businesses fail within two years. The tool, which promises a 34-day free trial, has helped a number of entrepreneurs accurately calculate the scalability and profitability of their products, thus allowing them to weather the critical existence and survival phases mentioned above.

Related: 10 Tools to Help Automate Your Small Business Tasks

4. GetResponse

Want to keep track of and organize all your marketing efforts in one centralized space? GetResponse can do just that through its multidimensional marketing automation platform, which tracks email marketing, landing pages and webinars. It can even help to automate the marketing process as a whole so that your business can focus on innovation. The GetResponse conference is a crucial event that highlights the functionalities of integrated and automated marketing software for small-business owners.

5. Slack

Want to efficiently outsource labor? Need a way to hold business meetings remotely with a number of people in different time zones? Recode estimates that three million people now use Slack every day to manage their remote teams. Slack is a messaging platform that has it all: text channels, calling and video, as well as file- and screen-sharing, all in one convenient, easy-to-manage bundle.

Related: Effectively Manage a Remote Team via Gamification

6. Intercom

Twenty thousand businesses use Intercom for personal customer communication. Customer management can be difficult when you have various avenues of communication, including through the site, through phone and through email. Intercom allows you to aggregate all of these functions in a noninvasive blue messenger box at the bottom right-hand side of your screen.

This allows your customer service representatives to clearly and easily keep track of who needs immediate attention, where users are coming from and even what pages they are currently looking at, to facilitate the most accurate customer service experience.

7. Trello

Need a place to put all of the ideas that the people in your business and your customers give you? Trello’s like an online whiteboard. It’s the perfect medium for brainstorming and arranging tasks according to priority. With 14 million users overall and one million daily users, Trello will allow your company to boost how it records and prioritizes ideas and how it adapts.

Related: 15 Tools to Accelerate Your Productivity

8. Shopify

Business Insider claims that ecommerce will grow by approximately 8–12 percent as a result of increases in mobile sales, along with a relatively stable market from PCs. Shopify offers an interface that allows your business to take advantage of this transitioning and globalizing market by giving you the ability to quickly assemble an aesthetically pleasing and intuitive ecommerce platform for your business.

9. Rapportive

Emails are an often overlooked form of marketing. If used correctly, they can provide great results when it comes to driving leads, conversions and retention. Most people wouldn’t expect email marketing to be one of the most effective marketing methods, but reports show that the average ROI for email marketing is much higher than that for other methods.

In fact, Delivra estimates ROI for email marketing to be $43 for every $1 spent. Rapportive is a handy plugin that works with Gmail to allow your business to keep better track of its email interactions and campaigns with its customers.

10. Google Docs or Dropbox

Google’s data centers are huge, taking up miles of space, and they have a global, interconnected fiber-optic cable network to service their data. When you’re managing a group of people, communication and keeping tabs on the amount of work that is done is essential. Google Docs is omnipresent and comes with your Gmail account, so it’s an easy way to link everyone up. If you’re looking for a fancier solution that offers plenty of space, Dropbox is a good alternative.

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