10 of the Best Online Tools for Busy Business Owners

Running your own business can keep you pretty busy. From payroll and staff to marketing and PR, you’ll sometimes feel like you’re spinning plates.

Thankfully, thanks to digital transformation, it’s become easier for business owners to automate tasks and save valuable time thanks to clever tools. Whether you are running a small operation, or have a big team behind you already — here are some great online tools you might want to consider to help you out.

Recommended reading: Is It Time for Your Business to Try Out AI? 

1. Xero + Chaser + Receiptbank

Everyone knows how convenient Xero can be as an online accounting app, but it’s actually the cool integrations and add-ons that make Xero so useful for the busy business owner. By being able to automate dreary financial tasks like chasing unpaid invoices, you will be able to save time and decrease stress levels.

Finances are at the core of any small business, so it makes sense to invest time and effort into their smooth management. Without a good financial framework, you will quickly fall behind and stagnate as a business — never take your cash flow for granted!

Let’s have a look at what Xero can do for your business:

  • Chaser allows you to send out personalized invoice chasers and manage your debtors — an essential task for any small business. Xero itself also has a pretty good invoice reminder function — customize your chasing frequency and messaging. You can easily turn off chasing for certain clients and customers.
  • Receiptbank is the ideal app for business owners who make a lot of small purchases for their business. It’s basically a receipt and purchase invoice manager, that also integrates with PayPal. You can install the app on your phone and quickly scan receipts into the system, tagging them up and posting them into Xero at a click of a button.

2. Evernote

Meeting notes getting lost? Can’t keep track of your creative ideas? A tool like Evernote can help you sync up your notes and ideas, and share them with key members of your team.

There are a lot of cool Evernote functions you may not have known about:

  • Instant note-syncing means you can have Evernote on all your devices at the same time (you need to pay for a premium account if you want to connect more than a couple though). It’s a great tool for business owners on the move who work in dynamic environments where you frequently switch from tablet to phone.
  • You can quickly share individual notes or notebooks with people, so everyone is kept in the loop.
  • Evernote also manufactures purpose-built notebooks so that you can scan in handwritten notes!

3. Slack

Modern business is all about communication, so make sure you spend time fine tuning your business communication strategy (both internal and external).

Slack is one of the easiest ways to manage internal and external comms. Whether you need somewhere where all your team can discuss training insights, or a way to bring disparate freelancers or groups together, Slack is a brilliant and user-friendly way to chat and collaborate.

The best thing about Slack? It’s very easy to use and won’t baffle people. The #’s used for channels are easy to follow, and once you’re in Slack, you’ll love it. And if that wasn’t enough, there are also a slew of tools that you can integrate your Slack account with to get even more out of it. Slack will change the way that you communicate at work for the better.

4. SurveyMonkey

Do you need to gather information quickly and easily?

Data is a super powerful business asset and a tool like SurveyMonkey will help you gather and organize data better.

Whether you want to get in touch with staff, follow up after an event, check in with clients, or gather data for marketing purposes, SurveyMonkey is a really user-friendly survey tool.

5. MailChimp

Sending out beautiful email newsletters no longer requires hours of painstaking HTML design — MailChimp makes it so easy even a ‘chimp’ can do it! With drag and drop templates and loads of advice on how to get your emails opened and read, MailChimp is a great business lifeline. Organize your email lists to reflect people’s interests, and you will find it a lot easier to get real engagement from your email marketing.

MailChimp is also a great thing to use for event marketing, and can help you follow up with a big group of people quickly and easily.

6. PeopleHR

Are you a good manager? Everyone likes to think that they are, but part of being a good manager is having access to the right toolsets and data in the first place. You can’t make the right staffing decisions if you haven’t got full visibility on what’s happening in your organization from an HR perspective.

From booking holidays to monitoring performance, PeopleHR makes things easy for staff member, manager, and business owner. Easy to use, clear, and bursting with reams of useful data, this budget HR app is a good find for anyone who cares about staff experience.

7. Trello

Trello makes project management look fun and easy. With a very visual UI that is made up of colored cards, many people use Trello just for fun!

But Trello is not just a pretty face: thanks to it being so easy to use, Trello is a great way to organize teams and projects and make sure that everyone is on the same page. Trello boards are easy to share and can be a quick way of getting people up to speed with a latest project.

8. Shopify

Your company website is crucial to the success of your online business; it’s the medium through which your customers place orders, making it the master of revenue for your company. However, as a busy business owner the last thing you want is to have to spend hours building your company website. That’s where Shopify comes in.

It makes the process simple for you, comes loaded with a host of themes (along with managing the hosting of your website), and has an in-depth support system comprised of physical meet-ups, podcasts, and tools.

Once you’ve set-up your website, you can gain insight on how to market your business, and access ongoing data that lets you see who is buying your products, where they’re buying them from, and how they’re buying them. Not only does Shopify make it easy to set-up your website, it makes it easy for you to grow your business.

9. Buffer

Scheduling social media can help you save valuable business time. You shouldn’t just click a button and automate your social feeds (that’s actually surefire way NOT to get followers), but you can save loads of time with strategic scheduling.

Buffer is ridiculously easy to use and will help busy managers and teams save time and scale. Queue up a load of posts for the holidays or the weekends, and share your content with your network at different times of the day.

10. Insightly

A friendly small-business CRM, Insightly is a good alternative to CRM market-leader Salesforce. Compact and managed by a friendly customer support team, Insightly can help your business run a tighter sales and customer experience ship.

From following up with leads, to updating contact details, being more organized with a small business CRM will make a big difference to your sales figures.

Owning and running your own business is a real labor of love. You want to create a business environment that you’re proud of — somewhere where both staff and ideas can thrive. Use online tools to help you save time and money, and create a great atmosphere that makes people want to work hard. What online business tool do you rely on the most?

Guest Post: About the Author

Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, she looks at how business owners can use developments in technology to improve their efficiency and drive up their revenue. She is passionate about using her experience to help fellow business owners succeed.