20 Tools Every Startup and Small Business Needs

Explore the top 20 indispensable tools every startup and small business should leverage, designed to streamline operations, enhance productivity, and drive growth in the digital age.

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Entrepreneurs start with a great idea that they try to make into a great business. Along the way, they need all the help they can get. One of the best ways to boost your chance at success is to take advantage of the wide range of proven startup tools.

There are a variety of tools out there that can help you with some of the important aspects of your business. From financing and marketing strategy to  human resources, sales, and project management, there is help out there if you know where to look.

Though there are many more, some of the best startup tools for startup founders  include:

  • InDinero
  • Online Invoices
  • Expensify
  • Hootsuite
  • Marketo Engage
  • Mangools
  • MailChimp
  • HubSpot
  • Google Analytics
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator
  • Spotio
  • Proposify
  • BambooHR
  • Gusto
  • Freshteam
  • Zoho Projects
  • Teamwork
  • Trello
  • LiquidPlanner
  • Google Workspace

When launching or running a business in these challenging times, it’s great to have the kind of competitive edge and wide range of functionality these startup tools provide. Here is a breakdown of what each of these tools offer a business owner.

Finance Tools

Keeping track of finances can be a matter of life and death to small businesses, especially those that are just starting out.  The right startup toolkits for entrepreneurs can help with accounting, invoicing, payroll, expense tracking, and much more. Some of the best startup tools that can keep you on track include:

  • InDinero: The cloud-based solution enables you to grow and scale your startup with the right accounting, tax management, and CFO help right away. InDinero allows users to consult an on-demand CFO whenever needed, access cloud-based financial data, get real-time accounting insights, and receive useful tax help.  If you’re wondering whether it’s time to open a new location for your restaurant, for instance, you can quickly look at your recent trend in cash flow through the app. A basic service is available for $300 a month and estimates for customized packages are available on request.
  • Online Invoices: The right invoice software is critical for anyone who works with clients on a per-project basis, like graphic designers and general contractors. Online Invoices not only lets you easily create and track branded invoices — accepting payments through PayPal, Stripe, and other methods — it also offers sales and inventory management, online accounting and CRM, and income and expense tracking. Online Invoices has plans that range from free (15 clients and 15 invoices per month) to the $39.95 platinum plan, which includes unlimited everything. 
  • Expensify: This startup toolkit makes it easy to track expenses, with receipt scanning, automatic approval workflows, and next-day reimbursement to workers who claimed expenses. Expensify also automatically syncs with any changes in your small business’s accounting system, offering constant visibility into your finances. Prices range from $4.99 a month for individual users to $9.99 per user per month. 

Marketing Tools

Even if you have a great business idea, you can’t make any sales if potential customers don’t know about you. In addition, if you can’t easily track results so you can constantly fine-tune performance, you are wasting precious capital. Whether it’s to schedule and measure the impact of posts across social media, automated marketing campaigns, or use search engine optimization (SEO) tools, these tools will help you get the word out while also improving your conversion rates.

  • Hootsuite: Widely used and well priced, Hootsuite lets you easily manage and track posts across different social media marketing channels. It also allows you to schedule posts, so if you’re an interior designer who finds yourself busy on job sites, it’s a great way to continue to post on your social channels without being glued to your computer. The free plan permits up to 30 posts while measuring the ROI of your campaign and keeping track of your posts’ impact through an all-in-one dashboard.  Hootsuite paid plans include professional (one user, 10 social profiles) for $29 a month, team (three subscribers) for $129 a month, and business (five-plus users, 35 social profiles) for $599 a month.
  • Marketo Engage: With this software, you’ll have access to tools that help with marketing automation, as well as optimizing and tracking tasks that include mobile ads, digital campaigns, customer insights and data, and email marketing campaigns. Created by Adobe, Marketo provides all this data from a single, easy-to-use dashboard. If you’re running your own marketing agency, for instance, Marketo would be a great tool to monitor the performance of specific CTAs for services on your site. For more information on pricing, contact Adobe directly about various packages.
  • Mangools: You are promised to receive “juicy SEO  tools that you’ll love.” These include ones that will help you find the best keywords, get detailed information on search results for marketing strategy, track your rankings, locate powerful backlinks, leverage useful metrics,  and check out competitors’ website authority. If you’re a small player in a larger industry, finding the right keywords to rank for can be a game changer for your business. After a 10-day trial, Mangools pricing plans are available for $37 to $97 a month (although specials drop prices lower).
  • MailChimp: Email marketing is still the cornerstone of many businesses’ efforts to acquire new customers and drive sales, so anyone from a plumber to an architect can benefit from having an organized email system. MailChimp lets you import contacts, segment customer databases into shared traits, automate deployment of email campaigns, and see detailed metrics on how deployments are doing. Monthly plans include free, essentials ($9), standard ($14), and premium ($299).
  • HubSpot: A name synonymous with inbound marketing, HubSpot is a great choice if you’re a small business owner looking for software that offers a little bit of everything. With four separate hubs for marketing, sales, service, and CMS, their software allows you to do everything from timing follow-up emails to potential customers to optimizing your site landing pages for conversions to customer support. They offer free tools for each hub, as well as bundles of the four core hubs, which start at $50 per month.
  • Google Analytics: The most effective marketing teams live on data. Hard metrics can reveal everything from effective messaging to whether covering trending news topics on your newly launched financial planning blog, for instance, is driving traffic to your site. One of the easiest ways to get started with website monitoring is through Google Analytics. You can get started with Google Analytics for free to use some of their basic features. 

Sales Tools

One of the most important parts of the entrepreneur’s journey is trying to convert an interested user into paid business. Today, a lot of this is done on e-commerce sites or landing pages. Small business owners can use these tools to help find new leads, locate customers on sales territory maps, or electronic payment processors.

  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator: This tool offered by the massive business networking platform lets you target the right buyers, keep track of key lead and company changes, and reach and engage with promising prospects — something that is particularly useful if you’re a small business owner in a niche market. LinkedIn Sales Navigator also provides real-time sales updates, organizes your leads and accounts with tags, and lets you see an expanded list of who has viewed your profile in the last 90 days. Plans range from professional ($64.99 a month) and team ($103.33 a month) to enterprise (contact LinkedIn for costs).
  • Spotio: Optimized for use on smartphones, Spotio is a  field sales engagement platform that shows exactly where leads are geographically located inside specific territory maps. Sales teams can save time with the startup tool and get help managing sales territories, planning routes, prospecting, and managing leads. This is a great tool if you’ve recently launched a specialized beverage and are looking to get it into specific markets. Free demos are available. Prices include team ($39 per month), business ($69 per month), pro ($129 per month), and enterprise (contact Spotio for pricing).
  • Proposify: This platform enables business people and marketers to create proposals, have documents signed remotely, and process payments, including those done through Stripe. With Proposify, customers you are targeting can view proposals on computers or with Android and iOS mobile apps, check out embedded content, do one-click signing, and even pay with the app, making the sales conversion process fast, easy, and efficient. This can be a particularly useful tool for those who are in the business of generating proposals and quotes constantly, like landscapers or website developers. Following a free trial,  users have a choice between a Tall plan (one subscriber, five proposals) for $19.99 a month or a Grande plan for teams (unlimited proposals) for $49.99 per user per month. 

Human Resource Tools

If people are a company’s biggest asset, then it’s a good idea to have startup tools in place that allow you to better manage and treat them. By taking care of HR processes and providing invaluable insights into new and potential hires, you can focus on people rather than paperwork and administrative formalities. 

  • BambooHR: This “software with heart” enables you to focus on people, not processes.  BambooHR makes hiring, onboarding, compensating, and building culture easier with capabilities that include comprehensive people data and analytics, an applicant tracking system, vacation-tracking software, and much more. After a free trial, you can contact BambooHR for a price quote.
  • Gusto: With Gusto, you can get a range of automated HR and payroll functionality, including help with end-of-year taxes, time tracking, and hiring and onboarding staff through an all-in-one interface. You can also build benefit packages for teams, create health insurance packages,  enable teams to control their finances with the Gusto Wallet app, get help with worker’s comp administration, and use a salary comparison tool to build effective employment offers.  Monthly plans range from basic ($19) to concierge ($149).
  • Freshteam: A dashboard gives a hiring manager insight and control over the recruiting process, managing several job candidates at once. Freshteam also handles onboarding, managing time off, and securely organizing all employee data and files. The monthly plans include Sprout (free), Blossom ($50),  Garden ($100), and Estate ($200).

Project Management Tools

Digital project management tools can help you plan, organize, assign personnel, collaborate remotely, assess progress, manage resources, and do much more. With more people falling into project management roles without specific training, the process is made easier with all-in-one online project management platforms.

  • Zoho Projects: This is a great cloud-based collaboration tool if you’re a small business owner who works with a remote team. Zoho Projects allows you to plan projects, automate routine tasks, manage resources, assign work, and easily work collaboratively with team members located anywhere. After a free 10-day trial, pricing plans range from $3 per user per month to  $6 per user per month, depending on your needs.
  • Teamwork: As the name suggests, Teamwork is a great tool for organizing teams in projects. Aimed at general users, it helps with task management, collaboration tools, resource management and reporting, and key project updates. Time tracking and deadline management are included. If you recently launched a baby food business, for instance, this can help all of the team members responsible for product launch stay organized in one place. Pricing includes free, pro ($10 per user per month), and premium ($18 per user month) options. There’s also enterprise pricing, with estimates available on request.
  • Trello: If you run a marketing agency where you need to keep projects organized with clients, for instance, Trello could be the project management tool you’re looking for. You can collaborate with team members in real time and even color code projects to enhance organization. Packages range from a free version to the enterprise level at $17.50 per month. And the bonus: all of the integrations the software offers, including Slack, Dropbox, and Salesforce. 
  • LiquidPlanner: This is a powerful solution for managing complex project workflows. It helps teams track and manage not only work but resources and staff availability, as well. Claiming that it is the “only automated scheduling and forecasting solution on the market,” LiquidPlanner has functionality that allows you to “plan and prioritize hundreds of projects and track how changes to one project will impact others — as well as analyze the associated resources and risks, all within a single powerful application.” After a 14-day free trial, pricing includes a $45 per user per month professional package and an enterprise package (contact LiquidPlanner for costs).
  • Google Workspace: Formerly known as G Suite, Google Workspace is a great first option for those who have a tight budget. Each plan provides access to popular programs you likely already use, including Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and Google Meet. If you recently started a personal training business, for instance, this could be a great platform to use to start organizing your different client appointments and emails. Starting at $6 per month, there are different plans that allow you to customize Google tools based on your business needs. 

Find More Resources and Tools for Your Startup Today

Whether you use the free version or the premium version of the tools listed above, the right startup tools enable you to run your business more smoothly and profitably. ZenBusiness also offers a full range of tools and services to help freelancers, consultants, tradespeople, and others launch, operate, and scale their business. Whether you need to register a domain name for an e-commerce site or require additional services to grow (e.g., business bank accounts, credit cards, and business plan templates), ZenBusiness should be your startup service of choice. 

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

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Written by Team ZenBusiness

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