12 Must-Have SaaS Tools for Small Businesses

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There’s no question that we have more apps and software as a service (SaaS) tools at our disposal today than ever before. If there’s a function your business does or needs to do, there’s a good chance someone has an app or cloud-based service ready to help you out.

In fact, some business leaders get so overwhelmed by the din of competing voices from service providers, they sit on the sidelines and fail to take advantage of some productivity and profitability enhancing systems.

I want to point out several good apps and SaaS tools, but before I get into specifics, I want to create a simple framework in which you should evaluate these tools. Further, one of the biggest advantages these tools give you is the ability to successfully manage virtual teams. However, you will find almost all of them appropriate for local use as well.

We can generally slice businesses organizations into four pieces:

  • Research and development (R&D)
  • Production
  • Sales and marketing
  • Operations

I suggest that when you’re evaluating any cloud-based tool, you start by slotting them into one of those categories. You should know from your experience which areas need the most improvement in your organization, so you can determine where you will get your greatest “bang for the buck” initially. (By the way, some of the tools I’ll discuss have applications that span two or more of these categories.)

Research and development

Here’s the “think tank” of your organization. If there has been one huge development in business over the last decade or so, it’s the increased premium we place on ideas. Not a day goes by that Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, or some other major influencer doesn’t make a headline with an innovative “big idea.”

Efficient collaboration is the key to creating commercially successful concepts today. I know we’ve all heard the cliché “Think outside the box” far too many times, so let me change it up a bit and turn it into “Think outside the office.”

Enabling your team to share ideas and bounce off one another’s input outside of the office can pay big rewards. This is an area where apps and SaaS shine:

Slack: This app has received a lot of press in recent years. When your team members need to collaborate and their work involves other software platforms, Slack can be the answer. It may look like a chat app, but with file sharing and app integration, it is much more.

RealtimeBoard: Among traditional brainstorming tools, few–if any–top the white board. This is a virtual white board on steroids. It will supercharge your online collaboration with loads of built-in extras, like templates, icons, and Google Drive integration.

File sharing: I’m not going to single out any one service here; they all are good and depend on the online ecosystem you have created for your business. They have come a long way in recent years by allowing multiple users to work on the same document at the same time and see each other’s changes. Microsoft, Google, and Apple all have this kind of file sharing available today in their suites of office applications.

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