By Steven Macdonald
Running your own business is one of the most rewarding and also stressful and time-consuming jobs you could ever do. Especially when you’re first starting out and growing your business, there is never enough time to get everything done. You need to figure out very quickly how to be productive.
The trouble is it’s tricky to know where to start. Lots of software tools out there are designed for big, established businesses with lots of staff and huge infrastructures. Sometimes, though, you just need some handy tools that will save you time and make your business run more efficiently—without having to spend thousands of dollars or waste days and weeks on lengthy implementation processes.
So, with that in mind we’ve researched 25 of the most cost-effective productivity tools that are available. Many of the tools we found are free to use, whereas others cost a few dollars. However, the one thing they all have in common is they are designed to help you run your business more productively and save you considerable amounts of time.
Planning and project management tools
Regardless of whether you’re setting up a new business for the first time, or you’re preparing to launch a new product or marketing campaign, no smart entrepreneur can overlook the need for some proper planning and project management. The following tools will help you successfully plan, measure, and deliver your next business project.
Simple and flexible project management Kanban boards
Pricing: Starts at $0; Business Class is $9.99/month; Enterprise is $20.83/month
Why should you use Trello? Based on the Japanese business system of Kanban, Trello is a highly visual and intuitive tool that allows you to quickly organize, monitor, and update your projects. Not only is it free to use in most cases, but it allows you to break down your projects into specific stages—(e.g., “Not Done,” “Doing,” and “Done”)—so you can easily see at a glance which stage a task is at.
Online-only, collaborative spreadsheet tool from Google
Pricing: $0 (free) for individual users; starts at $6/month for business users as part of G Suite
Why should you use Google Sheets? Let’s face it, we all use spreadsheets to organize pretty much all our business information, right? They can hold anything from sales records and customer lists to financial plans and reporting data. The trouble is, if you’re using a desktop tool like Excel, you’re missing out on the chance to collaborate with other members of your team. It’s this collaboration, combined with the ability to seamlessly import data from a whole host of other software apps that allows Google Sheets to beat Excel hands down as a tool for the modern, digital entrepreneur.
Simple yet powerful to-do list management app
Pricing: $0 (Free); premium reminder features start at $3/month
Why should you use Todoist? To-do lists are at the epicentre of any business or project. Without them you’ll never remember all the things you need to do to reach your goals. Todoist is a to-do list app that helps you to add new list items, review your lists, and will even send you reminders to keep you on task—all from one central dashboard. Simple, yet massively effective.
Keeps track of the time you’re spending on tasks