11 of the best productivity tools for small businesses

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March 24, 2020

best productivity time management tools

There's some truth to the old adage ”time is money”. As a small business owner, you constantly need to protect your time or look for ways to find more of it.

Ideally you will be able to outsource the tasks that aren't the best use of your focus so you can save your energy for those that are. This might mean passing tasks to your team or even a virtual or in-house assistant who can support you for a few hours a week.

For everything left on your plate, it's your job as a small business owner to do these tasks as productively as possible.

This is where productivity tools come in. Here are some of our favorite productivity tools for small businesses to streamline manual tasks and get more done in a day. (With no burning out or late nights required.)


Communication and collaboration

1. Slack

The refreshing alternative to email that makes it simple for small companies to talk business.

slack homepage productivity tool

Slack’s “smart alternative to email” seamlessly organizes communication with channels to streamline and minimize confusion between the various conversations going on in your small business.

It’s easy to get set up with a free Slack account and upgrade to a paid plan as your team scales. After getting set up, you’ll find communication with your team is quicker than ever, no matter where you are in the world.


2. Trello

Trello organizes and prioritizes your projects in a fun, flexible and rewarding way.

trello homepage best productivity tools

Millions of users worldwide rely on Trello to organize their projects, prevent things from falling through the cracks and get more done.

You can get set up with a standard Trello board in minutes, organizing your tasks to different lists and adding due dates, assigned people and labels.

With Trello’s Power-up feature, you can easily integrate your business’s other tools with your board for a bigger productivity boost, including Google Drive, Slack and Dropbox.

It’s also fun to get help from Trello’s virtual assistant Butler to trigger automatic actions on your cards, such as assigning the right colleague for a task or adding comments and labels based on rules.


3. Asana

The popular productivity and task management tool for team projects and organization.

asana homepage best productivity tools

Asana brings some much-needed zen to project management. Use the platform to manage workload, build timelines and even automate some of your processes to save you time and effort.

Many small businesses rely on Asana to keep their focus on the most important work by ranking tasks in order of priority and due date, and the platform also offers a quick overview of team progress with a single click.

If your project management has more complex requirements, Asana will keep things straightforward but sufficiently detailed via its task-assigning, sub-tasks and dependency features.

Keep your eyes peeled for Asana’s team morale-boosting features. Use a Like to quickly confirm, approve or praise your teammate’s work. And look out for one of the four celebration creatures flying across your screen when you check off a task (spoiler: one’s a yeti).


Time-tracking and scheduling

4. Toggl

Toggl makes time tracking simple and efficient, just like it should be.

toggl best productivity tools

Toggl is designed to deliver “time tracking so easy you’ll actually use it”. Alongside its core time-tracking functionality, Toggl includes reminders and idle detection for when the timer’s working and you… probably aren’t.

Basic features including one click-timers and app integrations with tools like Google Docs, Xero and Slack. The Chrome extension is also a no-brainer for time tracking and monitoring if you’re using Toggl.

Advanced features from Toggl include data insights, such as Profits vs Labour Costs, to track your most profitable clients and projects. When you first log in, your Team Dashboard clocks how much time your team is tracking so you can immediately identify if you’re taking on too much or little.


5. Google Calendar

A simple and sleek way to keep track of commitments, meetings and deadlines across all devices.

google calendar best productivity tools

No matter what device you’re using, Google Calendar’s easy-to-use interface makes scheduling and planning easier than ever. It also seamlessly links with other Google apps including Gmail, Drive and Docs, making it simpler to find and organize the right information.

If you are one of 1.5 billion Gmail users, events from your emails will automatically be added to Google Calendar to help you stay organized. Smart suggestions for calendar events save you time when setting up meetings, while Schedule View brings your calendar to life with interactive images and maps.



6. FreshBooks

Cloud accounting software to help you spend less time on accounting and boost productivity elsewhere.

freshbooks homepage best productivity tools

FreshBooks is a 100% tax compliant software that’s fantastic for increasing productivity in an area that is known to be a drag: accounting. With price plans starting at $15 a month, FreshBook’s innovative layout and love for simple efficiency means that staying on top of your books has never been easier.

With a tool like FreshBooks, a virtual bookkeeper does the work for you at a fraction of the cost of an in-house hire. Built-in time-tracking software also helps client-focused small businesses to track where they’re spending time, cut procrastination and bill accurately for every project.

If you use FreshBooks, make sure to set up automatic expense tracking by syncing your bank account. There’s also a handy mobile app in both the Google Play Store and App Store.


7. Xero

Another online accounting top-choice to help you stay on top of your finances while boosting productivity.

xero homepage best productivity tools

Like FreshBooks, Xero is one of the top accounting softwares on the block. If you’re looking to finally take control of your business finances, Xero will do just that. Its features allow you to run many crucial aspects of your business with zero hassle, all the way from managing stock to paying staff directly.

After connecting your bank accounts to Xero, you can access an easy overview of where your cash is going and when, while managing expenses, paying bills and keeping track of time spent on projects can all be done on the move via Xero’s impressive mobile app.


Contact management

8. Google Contacts

A simple and easy way to manage contacts that works seamlessly with other Google apps.

google contacts

If you use Google products, you’ll likely have a lot of contacts in the Google Cloud. You can organize all of these with Google Contacts and sync contacts two-ways between Google Contacts and your other tools, like your mailing list.

Among other handy shortcuts and features, the frequently contacted tab and labeling tools decrease time wasted sifting through contacts and make it easy to find customer information. For very small businesses that want to keep things simple, Google Contacts is one of the most accessible productivity tools available.


9. PieSync

A simple but mighty two-way data sync for all of your favorite business apps, from your CRM to your email marketing tool and beyond.

piesync homepage best productivity tools

To enable the most productivity in your small business, you can’t just keep adding more tools to your tech stack. You need to ensure your apps work well together, otherwise you run the risk of wasting time exporting data, searching for accurate numbers, and figuring out how to fix duplicate contacts.

PieSync boosts your small business’s productivity with a two-way sync that keeps your tools connected. After signing up for a free trial, choose which apps you want to sync first and how to configure your connections. Your contacts will then automatically fly between the right tools in real time, with the most up-to-date information attached.

This means your team is always looking at the right data, with zero duplicate contacts, messy CSV exports, or data silos in sight.


10. HubSpot

HubSpot combines marketing, sales and service on a single platform for one of the easiest ways to grow your small business.

hubspot homepage best productitivyt tools

HubSpot’s biggest value for small businesses is their free CRM, which brings order to contact management within minutes. The platform makes it super simple to access customer insights, track deal status and even enable live chat on your website.

The real value of HubSpot comes when you integrate their Marketing, Sales and Service Hubs with the core CRM. These come together to boost small business productivity and help biz ops run like clockwork across every department.

Start with the free CRM for some instant value and decide whether to invest in the three Hubs as you scale. HubSpot also integrates beautifully with your other favorite business apps.


11. ActiveCampaign

Automation tool with a wide range of extra marketing benefits for your small business.

activecampaign homepage best productivity tools

With ActiveCampaign’s marketing automation, smart CRM and website messaging features, it’s easy to tick a lot of boxes with one software subscription.

ActiveCampaign effortlessly removes some of the headaches of running your business and goes to show that automation can transform your productivity.

To enable your small business apps to work together and instantly exchange the right data, get set up with a free trial of PieSync now.

Try PieSync for free

About Lucy Fuggle

Lucy Fuggle writes for PieSync, the two-way contact sync tool for hundreds of apps. She also works with her clients to make their brand matter with a content-rich marketing strategy.