Often, managers look for an all-in-one tool where everything needed to run a business can work simultaneously. Each company has unique needs and unique distractions. That’s why a stack of custom-tailored tools might be better for productivity.
Online communities are an excellent resource for learning about business strategy.
That’s where tweets sharing the latest productivity stacks to boost efficiency and inspiration at work are emerging all the time.
Reading up on these word-of-mouth endorsements from peers is a great place to start researching new tools. Here is a detailed compilation of tools and services that small business owners across various niches say help their productivity.
What Makes a Great Productivity Tool?
Productivity tools are time-savers.
They declutter the digital workspace and allow for the automation of a handful of processes. These apps can be used in any type of business, regardless of its niche, but should provide the following benefits:
- Enhance data security. Data is the most valuable asset a company has. If this data is compromised, a company can fall hard and fast. The right productivity apps make possible safeguarding access to data when it’s being shared.
- Facilitate communication. From simple emails to large tasks, managing responsibilities is more accessible with the help of productivity apps. These apps reduce task assignment time with features designed with automation.
- Enhance collaboration. Switching between tabs and apps to communicate, exchange feedback, make changes, revise projects and track them on a significant scale isn’t easy without a proper system. These tools allow for seamlessly overseeing projects and staying coordinated.
- Customization for your workflows. Using these tools with modifiable templates allows adaptation to suit one’s needs. Each tool comes with its diverse functionalities for managing small to large projects.
- Integration capabilities. Unifying all notifications and communication in one space can keep the user from constantly logging in and out of several different apps.
Small business owners should explore apps that cater to their needs, such as marketing efforts, time tracking, communication, project management, content marketing, employee monitoring, etc.
Many ask, isn’t most of this functionality covered with a CRM system?
Even with the best CRM software, there will be certain features missing. On top of that, it isn’t always easy for a small business to justify the price.
The list below covers apps that small businesses could adopt a-la-carte and use to optimize their work instead of an expensive platform.
For Managing Email Multiple Accounts: Mailbird
When running a business, team members communicate with customers, suppliers, and employees, no matter how small. As a result, the likelihood of managing more than one email account per person is extremely high.
Mailbird helps its users manage multiple email accounts in one place so they can check and respond to emails without feeling overwhelmed. Add any email from nearly any provider via IMAP or SMTP.
The interface is clean and customizable, allowing for dark mode, personalized hotkeys, or adjustable notification settings. The desktop app also integrates with myriad tools, including Slack, Whatsapp, Dropbox, Asana, and Evernote, for a full suite experience without opening a million tabs.
Mailbird comes with two distinct plans tailored for personal use or business use. They also feature a ‘Pay Once’ option for those who know they’ll want to renew their subscription indefinitely.
- Personal Yearly – $39
- Personal Pay Once – $99
- Business Yearly – $59
- Business Pay Once – $399
Note: There is a discount for first-time shoppers at the moment:
- Personal Yearly – 30% OFF
- Personal Pay Once – 50% OFF
- Business Yearly – 30% OFF
- Business Pay Once 70% OFF
Mailbird is fully available on Windows desktop, with a Mac version to be released soon. An app for mobile is on their roadmap as well.
For Email Marketing and Cold Email: QuickMail.io
Email campaigns are a daunting task at first without a CRM with email marketing capability.
On the other hand, small businesses don’t need an all-in-one app to reap the benefits of customer retention, efficient workflows for marketing efforts, or a consistent source of web traffic.
Quickmail is a product that helps sales and content marketing teams understand the benchmarks needed for cold email and determine when and how to scale up their efforts.
Their product is for managing prospects, sending out personalized emails, and ensuring email deliverability works as it should.
- Free Trial. The free trial plan is available for 14 days.
- AutoWarmer (Free). The free version of Quickmail offers access to the auto warmer inbox for Outlook and Gmail.
- Starter Plan ($59/Month). Send 500 emails daily, and take advantage of the additional features like email tracking, A/B testing, auto-follow-ups, and personalization.
- Pro Plan ($79/Month). Send 1500 emails per day, and add Zapier integrations, additional reporting features, and conditional steps for your emails.
Quickmail works with Gmail, Outlook, and any other inbox.
For Project Management: Asana
Asana brings project planning and management into one tool that can be used easily by business owners and their teams.
The tool can be used both on desktops and smartphones.
It works as a reminder, calendar, to-do list, and notes app. It integrates with programs like Mailbird, Calendly, and dozens of other apps.
Create tasks and sub-tasks, visualize projects on mind maps, and monitor deadlines and project progress, and team members’ tasks progress.
Asana provides four main subscription plans based on the team’s needs and size:
- Basic (Free). Create unlimited projects for a team of up to 15 members.
- Premium ($13.49/mo per user). Invite unlimited guests into projects, use the Admin Console, and more.
- Business ($24.99/mo per user). Build custom automation and integrate with Adobe Creative Cloud, Tableau, and Salesforce apps.
- Enterprise (pricing on request). Maximized security and a “full suite” of work management.
Asana is accessible through its web version and iOS or Android devices.
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For Sensitive Data and Employee Monitoring: EmpMonitor
For businesses that handle sensitive information, security protocols are paramount.
A product that monitors employees ensures that no exceptions are made to a single one of the company’s data-related policies is worth considering.
EmpMonitor is an employee monitoring tool to help employees show accountability for their work and provides actionable data for leadership teams to use when assessing security, progress, and performance.
The tool equips teams with special alerts and notifications for potential breaches of confidentiality, automates hours tracked to payroll, and has several other features for monitoring employees should productivity be a concern.
EmpMonitor caters to all businesses through five plans, and their costs are based on the size of the team:
- Free Trial. The free trial plan available for 15 days gives a taste of the app (limited from 1 to 5 users).
- Bronze ($4.59/user/month paid yearly). Equipped with custom onboarding and VIP support besides basic features, this plan is adapted for teams of 5 to 10 members.
- Silver ($3.75/user/month paid yearly). Including all the twenty features in the Bronze plan, it has an increased capability of serving teams of 11 to 50 users.
- Gold ($2.92/user/month paid yearly). Serving large teams of up to 200 members with all the Silver package features.
- Diamond (price on request). Teams larger than 200 members should contact their team for a custom package.
EmpMonitor is a web-based software that can be used on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
For Time Tracking: Buddy Punch
Perhaps the organization doesn’t need to monitor remote employees with the “Big Brother” idea potentially looming over their heads but does want to free up some time dealing with payroll.
Buddy Punch is a time tracking software that records employees’ working hours, covering PTO accruals, geofencing, and overtime tracking.
When payday comes, employers can simply forward the reports to the payroll providers with which Buddy Punch integrates and other services like QuickBooks, ADP, & SurePayroll.
All its features are packaged into three plans (all of which include a free trial):
- Standard. $2.99 per user/month billed annually ($3.49 if billed monthly) +$19 base fee per month.
- Pro. $3.99 per user/month billed annually (or $4.49 if billed monthly) +$19 base fee per month.
- Enterprise. Pricing is available on request.
Available on browsers and their respective Google, Android, and iOS apps.
For Communication: Slack
Slack is acclaimed as one of the most effective communication tools for business, significantly improving its users’ productivity.
Based on a client’s needs when using Slack, it is possible to create separate communication channels dedicated to a project or department or to offer customer service. It’s not just for company communications either. One can join community slack channels outside their organization to get second opinions or network with other industry go-getters.
Slack significantly reduces the number of phone calls and emails.
Features such as calendar management and real-time synchronization, as well as integration capabilities, make it a must for teams.
Slack provides its users with three plans:
- Pro. $6.67/person/month (billed yearly) or $8/person/month (billed monthly).
- Business+. $12.50/person/month (billed yearly) or $15/person/month (billed monthly).
- Enterprise Grid. Custom pricing is available on request.
You can benefit from Slack functionalities on Android, Mac, iOS, and Windows platforms.
On a Final Note
These apps are easy to include in a stack for small teams seeking to amp up productivity but aren’t looking to break the bank.
A word to the wise, it’s prudent to always consider the features, integrations, cost, and availability of the product before signing on the dotted line.
Free trials are an excellent way to make sure the features will actually contribute to your productivity. Some apps offer demos, support, or a knowledge base for easy onboarding.
Hopefully, this list sparked some ideas for avoiding distractions and having a custom-built productivity stack.