business productivity tools

Top 12 Lean and Free Productivity Tools for Small Businesses

Every small business owner dreams of getting more work done every single day. Question is – How? You can’t add more work hours to a day and the only option is to make each hour more productive. The business tools you use play a very significant role in determining your team productivity. There are a plethora of low-cost or free productivity tools available that can help you improve your team productivity.

But how do you choose the right tools? How do you know what tools are right for you?

Before choosing your productivity tools, it is paramount to understand how your team works, the processes you have in place, and to identify any bottlenecks. Each business is unique and so are their processes and productivity needs. There can be no one solution that can magically improve productivity for all kinds of businesses. With a fundamental understanding of how your teams and business functions work, you can make a better choice of tools that fit your needs.

In this article, we present to you a curated list of our favorite business apps for various business functions that can help you make the right choice of productivity apps for your business.

Sales

1. Pipedrive

Pipedrive is a great alternative for tracking sales and managing your pipeline if you don’t want to commit to expensive and bulky CRM solutions. Deal tracking, forecasting, activity tracking & timeline reports are some of its important features.

Pipedrive CRM for sales productivity

How does it stand out?
Deal tracking is at its best in Pipedrive. You can view your sales funnel across milestones with easy drag-drop feature. This along with deep Google Apps integration is a big productivity boost. It costs $12 per user per month.

Automate.io makes it even better with its Pipedrive integrations.

2. Close.io

Close.io is a good fit if your sales process is long and communication heavy with a lot of phone calls. It allows you to store all your email and call logs in one place and call your prospects right from the app. The telephony integration is completely seamless.

Close.io
Close.io’s account overview with communication history

How is it productive?
Inbuilt telephony with inbound and outbound calling is simply the best. This along with automatic email & call logging with neat communications timeline can save a lot of time for your sales reps. It’s a touch expensive at $65/user but rewards are equally good for call heavy sales teams.

Others to considerCapsule CRM, Zoho

Marketing

3. Buffer

Buffer allows you to broadcast to all your social accounts from one place. Post updates to Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and more with one click.

Buffer
Buffer’s unified social media posting

Why is it cool?
Buffer has a simple and clean interface. If all you need is to post to the top social networks the free Buffer account is the best out there. The Awesome $10 plan is all you will need if you are not really big into social marketing.

4. Hootsuite

Hootsuite may suit you better if you are an avoid social marketer. It allows you to manage your social accounts, engage with prospects, run social campaigns and analyze results.

Hootsuite

The free plan allows you to manage up to 3 social accounts with scheduling and basic analytics features. The $10 Pro plan with 10 social accounts and all major features should fit all your social marketing needs.

5. MailChimp

MailChimp is a good old email marketing software with millions of users. You can manage subscribers, create email campaigns, send to segmented subscribers and measure results. Automation features let you do more advanced drip email marketing.

MailChimp
MailChimp’s drag-drop email designer

Why is it cool?
Drag drop email designer and email templates let you create great looking emails in minutes. It’s one of the easiest to use email marketing software for small businesses, and what’s more, it is free till you reach 2,000 subscribers.

You can connect MailChimp with your other apps easily with Automate.io’s MailChimp integrations.

Collaboration

6. Slack

Slack is hands-down one of the best tool in the market for office communication. It features real-time team chats, cross-functional communication, and timely notifications.

Slack - free productivity tools
Slack Team Collaboration

Integrate Slack with all your other apps and keep your team always on the toes.

What makes it stand out?
Slack integrates with dozens of other business apps and pull in data from all your business applications into Slack and help employees stay informed, collaborate and get things done faster. It’s the lifeblood of your team.

7. Google Apps

Google Apps form an indispensable email and document collaboration tool. Handle documents, presentations and spreadsheets from anywhere with no clutter of document versions floating around in your inbox.

Google Apps for Business Productivity

What makes it great?
Its ability to let multiple people work simultaneously on a document with automatic versioning & commenting features make it by far the best of its kind.

Project Management

8. Trello

Trello is a very effective project management tool. Use dashboards to plan and, organize task for your entire team, and collaborate on each task contextually. Power-ups pull in information from other popular apps making it even better.

Trello - Team productivity software

Why makes it stand out?

Trello literally keeps your team on the same page. It’s completely free with unlimited boards & members. Integrate it with Slack and you will hardly need the Prepaid plan.

9. Basecamp

Basecamp offers simple project and task management without a ton of features that ultimately slow you down.

Basecamp Project Management

Want to take your project management to the next level? Integrate Basecamp with Slack and other apps for a seamless and agile collaboration.

Payments

10. Quickbooks or Xero

Bookkeeping is the last thing most entrepreneurs want to spend their precious time on. Quickbooks and Xero make it easy to track invoices, log expenses and accept payments. They even automatically download your bank transactions so you can skip tedious manual entry.

Quick Books

Help Desk

11. Freshdesk

Freshdesk is a popular multi-channel help desk software loaded with features for helpdesk automation, SLA management, support portal and more.

Freshdesk Help desk

Why is it great?

Freshdesk gives you great value for money with a free plan that is surprisingly feature-rich. Ticket routing and automation features can reduce a lot of manual work and help improve agent productivity.

12. Help scout

Help Scout is known for clean email support. If you are keen on personalized and clutter free email support experience to your customers Help Scout is a great option. It comes with an amazingly clean user interface and competitive feature set.

Helpscout

How does it stand out?
Help Scout gives the experience of a simple email conversation to your customers without any clumsy links. The free plan offers most of the features and paid plan just costs $15 per user.

How to make the most out of all of them?

All of these apps are great in whatever they do. But often they need to talk to each other to exchange customer data and automate some trivial tasks.

Automate.io (bonus)

Automate is a SaaS integration app that allows you to integrate all your cloud apps together and make them work better for you. You can do one to one integration to sync data, or connect multiple apps and run workflows across them. Setup your automation rules once and free your team from manual data entry, and other unproductive and repetitive tasks.

In today’s world, business productivity is more of a necessity to stay competitive. Having the right tools not only saves time, it lets your team focus on real work that makes the significant business impact.

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