You already know that running your business, or starting a new one, requires a lot of hard work. What you may not know is how many apps and online business tools exist to make that work so much easier.
It doesn't matter if you're a one-person operation with a miniscule budget or a popular start-up with plenty of capital, there are options to streamline your accounting, marketing, social media and more. Want to know more? Scroll down to check out 20 of the most useful and popular online tools for successful entrepreneurs.
1. Google Docs
Google's answer to Microsoft Office can handle multiple aspects of your business, with word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and form building tools. All you need is a browser and an internet connection.
This is a great tool for entrepreneurs who favor a collaborative work environment, Google Docs allows multiple users to access and edit the same document in real time. Simply share the doc link via email or to Google Groups, then grant “viewer”, “commenter” or “editor” privileges to each user.
Communication is key in business, and Slack is a multi-faceted chat app that helps streamline conversations with co-workers, remote workers and customers. Create open or closed chat groups, and share documents, files or your screen with participants.
Slack integrates with 2,500+ business apps, including Trello and a whole host of Google marketing tools. You can put together group audio or video calls, though there's a limit of 15 participants for paid tiers. For freelancers and small start-ups, the free version is a solid app that lets you retain 10,000 recent messages.
Technology can make all aspects of starting a business easier, but errors, bugs, power outages and more can bring on disaster. Dropbox offers peace of mind with cloud storage, full computer back-ups, secure document transfers and electronic signatures.
Dropbox offers single user and team business account options with varying storage and feature limits. It can be a bit pricy if you're kicking off with a larger team, with accounts running $15 to $50 per month, per user, for the yearly plans.
Patreon is a type of crowdfunding tool for entrepreneurial creatives who want to spend time on their art while someone else handles the business side of things. For a small cut of the profits, Patreon provides customizable subscription packages so creators can offer exclusive content to members in exchange for a monthly fee.
While popular with writers, artists, musicians and podcasters, Patreon is adaptable for a variety of businesses. Consultants, educators and trainers can use it to sell online courses and training materials. Existing businesses can use it as another way to build a brand and dedicated following.
As your business grows, it's important to get more organized with tasks and you can do that by using a project management tool. Asana allows you to keep track of individual and team goals. You can assign tasks with due dates, and everyone is kept in the loop with notifications and messaging.
Asana offers a free version that covers the basics of project management with no limit on tasks, projects or messages. Further functionality like custom templates and premium support starts at $10.99 per month.
For anyone that loves making to-do lists, Trello is the ultimate online tool. You're able to customize a visual collection of “cards” in any way that suits your management style. Each “card” can contain a different project, for example, containing actionable tasks, due dates, uploaded files, instructions and group comments.
Because it's so versatile, entrepreneurs can use it for any kind of business. Users collect all their to-do lists in one place, integrating work tasks with personal errands, dinner recipes, reading lists and more.
When you're just starting a business, you have to consider many cost-cutting ideas until you begin turning a profit. One of those ideas is to use freelancers for your marketing, website design, graphic design and other tasks that don't yet require a full-time employee. Fiverr is popular with start-ups because the $5 base fee for projects makes it extremely affordable.
Fiverr providers are rated and reviewed, and you can see samples of their work to find the right fit. Many creators offer valuable upgrades for a modest upcharge.
Social media is a big part of getting your business noticed and a valuable way to connect with your customers. As Hootsuite reports, 50% of people under 25 research brands on social media first. Hootesuite's online tool helps you plan, launch and manage campaigns across multiple platforms and accounts at once.
Hootsuite allows you to schedule unlimited social media posts, gives you statistics and suggests the best times to post. Check your budget, as plans start at $49 per month and escalate dramatically from there.
News of email's death has been greatly exaggerated. Over two million users count on Mailchimp for their newsletters and email marketing campaigns. You can utilize their drag-and-drop templates to craft emails, and then targeting tools to send to specific demographics.
Mailchimp includes automation options to send follow-up emails, analytics to evaluate campaigns, and AI to provide targeted email marketing tips to boost sales. The best news for start-ups is there is a free plan, and modestly priced monthly upgrades.
This free Gmail extension was designed to help make your email usage more efficient and valuable. Schedule emails to arrive at a time they're more likely to be read. Receive reminder messages when you haven't gotten a response. Hide emails or delay updates to de-clutter your inbox until you're free to deal with new issues.
Boomerang provides an easy one-tap tool to schedule meetings with email recipients and add them to your calendar. It also includes an AI assistant to help you write more effective emails.
Whether you're operating a storefront or starting an online business, you'll need a way to accept and process payments. Square handles every type of transaction option, from physical card readers to contactless phone apps to online ordering. They even have products tailored specifically for restaurants or retail.
Square's point of sale products require no start-up or monthly fees, just a processing rate per transaction. More complicated systems have additional charges, with custom pricing packages for larger businesses.
An important part of any start-up's content marketing strategy is stunning visuals. If you need to spend your budget for freelancers elsewhere, Canva is a great design tool that can help you take over a lot of the graphic design projects yourself.
With a user-friendly interface, a wealth of templates and stock photos, Canva can help you create eye-catching social media posts, web banners, presentations, posters and more. A robust free version is available, along with “Pro” and “Team” options.
Consumers across 10 international markets rated PayPal one of the 15 most trusted brands in 2021. Valued by users as a safe middleman between their bank accounts and online retailers, PayPal is a helpful addition to your ecommerce endeavors. The online payments system can be integrated into your online store, and there are brick and mortar point of sale options as well.
PayPal continues to evolve and includes user options for multiple forms of payment including credit cards, Venmo, and instalment plans. It can also integrate with other accounting and marketing tools and offers fraud protection for sellers.
AngelList is an essential tool for start-ups, particularly in the technology sector. Create a profile and some social buzz, and you can connect with fellow entrepreneurs and potential investors. Post job openings and hire talent that's specifically interested in working with start-ups.
Base plans are free if you're new to AngelList and have raised less than $1 million in capital; otherwise, it's $50 per month.
If you're looking to build a brand, the creatives at 99designs can help. You can be paired with a specific graphic artist or start an online contest to see multiple options for your logo, book cover, social media header or other design project.
Package deals allow you to create a full brand identity with logo, mascot, color scheme, branded products and more. Logo designs start at $349, with prices increasing for more entries and for top tier designers.
Just as with a conventional job, networking and finding a mentor can be keys to your success as an entrepreneur. With a little financial investment, Clarity.FM makes that easy. They provide an extensive list of experts in entrepreneurship, marketing, business strategy and more, who are willing to get on a call with you and share their knowledge.
The experts set their rates by the minute, and you can select a time limit to keep it within your budget.
If you're looking for apps to improve your efficiency, Zapier is a favorite with entrepreneurs. It's an incredibly powerful tool that helps you automate tasks across more than 5000 possible apps. Without knowing any coding, you can create complicated workflows that release you from manually assigning tasks, responding to emails, creating to-do lists, converting leads, and more.
For freelancers and those just starting their business, Zapier gives you 100 automated tasks per month for free. Higher-level plans range from $20 to $49 per month.
When you need a solid webpage for your business, WordPress is still the leader in creating websites and landing pages. The templates and user-friendly dashboard make it easy to get your site up and running. There's a free hosting option, plus paid packages that offer registry for domain names and an income-generating advertising program.
WordPress is also an excellent choice if you're hoping to grow your business with more freelance or permanent staff. Most blog post writers, web designers and social media experts have experience with WP and can immediately get to work without additional training.
19. QuickBooks Online
Whether you're a freelancer or a small business, you're going to need a reliable way to manage your accounting. QuickBooks Online helps you manage the basics like invoices, income, sales tax, and payroll. It also helps you keep track of everything you'll need for filing federal and state taxes, with cool features like reading and categorizing expenses from phone snaps of your receipts.
Plans start at $15 a month and increase depending on your business size and needs. For an additional and affordable monthly fee, you can have a pro bookkeeper look over your accounts for tax time and help manage them year-round.
The most well-known social media site for business-oriented connections, LinkedIn can work for your new start-up on several levels. First, it's a way to find talent through job postings, search, or networking. Those vast networking opportunities can also help you find investors.
Create a keyworded, eye-catching profile and post original and well-curated content to successfully market your business. The free version gets you started, and premium offers useful analytics, exclusive forums, online courses and more chances to reach those outside your network.
As you can see, there are plenty of products out there to help take your business to the next level. Take the time to explore all your options, and look for tools that are compatible with your current systems. Apps, extensions and online tools that work together will help you make the most of every available feature.
If you feel like you need more guidance, there are plenty of entrepreneur books to read, too!
Looking to change your mindset? Check out this video to learn the key entrepreneurial habits you need to adopt for success:
Did we miss a must-have online tool that you've used in your own business? Join the discussion below and give us your recommendations!