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25 Must-Have Tools Every Small Business Owner Will Find Helpful

The challenges for small businesses are too many. They lack resources, manpower, exposure and also experience. But they do not need to consider themselves as have-nots of the business world thanks to an array of speciality tools that make the job of running a business easier. Even a small business startup maintained and run by a couple of people can beat most of the day to day operational challenges ranging from email scheduling to social media posting to expense management and tracking vital metrics thanks to these business tools.

Let us describe 25 must-have business tools that every startup, small business or new entrepreneur will find useful.

  1. Slack

Slack is a communication tool that achieved quick popularity thanks to its unique approach to making group messaging and notifications easier than ever before. Slack never allows blowing up your notification folder with too many group messages most of which are repetitive and irrelevant. Instead of intermingling several groups within the same messaging ecosystem, Slack actively organises group-wise messages to ensure more structured and organised accessibility. At the same time, multiple Slack channels are capable of sharing files, allowing direct calls, searching messages and also an additional option of encouraging a member with a funny “taco”.

  1. SEO Moz

SEO Moz is a complete suite of advanced web marketing and ranking tools popular all over the globe for their hugely effective output and credentials recognised by most search engines and major web brands. The most well-known ranking parameters offered by SEO Moz are respectively Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA).

Both ranking systems, respectively DA and PA measured with a 100 mark scale depends upon several factors such as quality of contents, quality inbound links, social media mentions, presence in bookmarking sites, the frequency of hits in search engine lists, etc. SEO Moz also offers an array of other marketing and page ranking tools. You can get the entire bounty of Moz tools by subscribing the Pro version for $99 per month.

  1. Pixabay

Most startups depend on stock images rather than their in-house photographers to fetch images to fit their web contents. But, most tools offering stock images come with boring repetitive photographs with well-known cliches. Whenever you think of surpassing this generic vibe of so-called stock images and choosing something uniquely contextual, think of Pixabay. All images, gif and videos on Pixabay are released under the Creative Common protocol to allow access to any visual of your preference and need for absolutely free.

  1. Evernote

Whether you need to jostle a few lines that flare up on your mind while on the way to a meeting or you need to save a quick link with an image or you want to take note sitting right inside a training session, in all circumstances you can use this awesomely simple and user-friendly note-taking tool.

Evernote continued to remain one of the most popular and powerful cross-platform note apps for both individuals and small firms. The tool allows sharing notes, file attachments, reminders and voice memos. If you want to use it for multiple employees within a work environment, you should go for Evernote Premium version priced at $5 per month or just $45 per annum.

  1. GoCo

In many small companies or startups often Human Resource lacks a fully developed process or a discipline as such. Because of the severe lack of resources, small businesses deal with human resource needs through outsourcing firms or at best, with a single in-house HR professional taking care of everything in his capacity. This often results in severe lack of talent acquisition and retention over a period of time.

To help such small business startups and entrepreneurs dealing with this issue now you have GoCo.io, the single platform to organise and streamline all your HR workflows through a single platform. The platform is completely web-based and streamlines diverse HR processes such as time tracking, productivity analysis and performance management, employee onboarding process, payroll management, etc. Apart from saving a lot of paperwork for day to day HR activities, it offers a solid platform to deal with all employee related issues in a very effective manner.

  1. Google Drive and Google Docs

These are all too well-known tools from Google that are popular for file and document creation and sharing. The cloud-based file storage and note-taking system of these two tools help you remain in sync across multiple devices in real time. No wonder, both the tools are tremendously popular for projects requiring collaboration from different professionals. It is particularly useful for companies handling several freelance content contributors from different locations.

The best thing is Google Drive integrated with Google Docs offers a 15 GB storage for absolutely free and it is quite a lot for a small startup to begin with. You can go for more storage by opting for the paid version.

  1. Goodhire

In a new company lack of an established HR process often results in the ad acquisition and long-term loss of productivity. To deal with the complexities of hiring process involving identity and background checks, employment history checks, drug and substance abuse screenings, verifying degree and qualification, etc small companies and startups often find themselves in a difficult position. GoodHire is an awesomely simple and rich tool to deal with all these tasks relieving you of the paperwork and workloads while delivering results within the day.

  1. Google Analytics

A website can be the best marketing tool for small business provided it knows the fine art of generating leads from web traffic and converting them into business. Well, this requires knowing where from your visitors are coming, their demographics, their preferences and user behaviour elements while interacting with your business website. All these and many more metrics are tracked and provided with tangible data-centric insights by Google Analytics, the most successful analytics engine powered by Google’s expertise with the web search traffic. It is a must-have tool for any business website now.

  1. Hubspot’s Marketing Grader

How can you be sure whether the voluminous efforts and energy spent on your business website are at all converting business for you? Well, this is what you can check and track through this free tool from Hubspot. The tool will help you get access to most relevant and useful insights and figures corresponding to the performance of your blog, social media and lead generation through various digital avenues.

  1. Upwork

These days most companies try to limit the overhead cost for manpower resources to a minimum. It is particularly true for small businesses and startups who are more exposed to the volatility of the business outcome. So, they prefer hiring quality freelancers to contribute to their projects. This is when the importance of hiring tools such as Upwork comes into view. The tool works with an open bidding system to help you get the best talents onboard with lucrative pricing.

  1. Quora

Quora is too well known a forum allowing us to post queries and get answers on any topic imaginable. The fun side of this all in one source of readymade answers apart, the tool is also awesome to get consistent exposure with most knowledgeable and useful answers to questions of your niche. A small business can easily build a reputation around a profile, get followed by thousands and draw traffic by posting relevant links in context to answers posted in Quora.

  1. CoSchedule

Most business blogs running on WordPress with a rigorous content strategy involving multiple writers often find it difficult to schedule the posts in a timely and organised manner. CoSchedule is a great WordPress addon to meet these challenges. The tool allows you to plan content submission well in advance, send a notification to writers about upcoming posts and streamline the entire process of writing, editing and social sharing of contents. It is a well-equipped platform that takes away the entire concern of content submission, publication and sharing. The tool comes with only a 14 day free trial period and post that period you need to subscribe.

  1. MailChimp

E-mail marketing is necessary for every small time business endeavour and while they have a lot of good tools for creating and sending a bulk newsletter, nothing can beat the merit of MailChimp. This robust tool allows you sending 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers without charging a dime. The tool comes loaded with a rich set of features including a whole range of eye-grabbing templates, sophisticated analytics, great scope of personalisation, etc.

  1. Telzio

Do you need a robust internet calling and messaging system to allow all your employees and freelance contributors across locations to stay in touch constantly? Well, think of no other tool than Telzio. The tool apart from getting a reputation for performance also delivers a very intuitive and visually engaging interface. The tool is not free but the pricing system doesn’t involve complexities like termination fees.

  1. Fundera

Crowdfunding has received phenomenal appreciation and popularity among startups because of the tremendous role it played for creating successful innovative applications and gadgets over the years. Fundera is a great tool to finance your business with a lot of exposure to your contributors and well-wishers. Fundera helps you work with dozens of lenders and get a loan at lucrative rates. 

  1. Kickstarter

Kickstarter is already too well-known as a crowdfunding platform that allows you to keep your equity share for the product intact. Instead of going after potential lenders, the platform helps you reaching a fund target through pre-production sales. To boost the morale of your donors to stand behind you the tool also allows you to offer incentives for them through future products or freebies of any kind.

  1. Hootsuite

Social media comes as the most opportunity-ridden free tool to promote a business or a venture. Startups find it as the only free tool to reach their audience. But given the kind of time and continuous involvement it requires, the cost in terms of time looks no less than an exorbitant fee. This is why tools like Hootsuite became so popular. It allows scheduling posts, tracking social media mentions, evaluating the effectiveness of contents, etc.

  1. SalesLoft

SalesLoft is the tool to give your sales figure a boost by reaching more customers. The tool is more suited for B2B sales and can help the sales professionals to get in touch through an inbuilt sales dialer, a sales-specific email function and integrated tools like Salesforce. The tool is great for boosting business conversion and customer retention.

  1. Trello

Every business involving team-based collaboration will find this task management tool tremendously helpful. The tool is able to come up with multiple boards, cards, set different due dates for respective projects and assign notes as and when needed. Trello comes as free for a small team size but the pricing grows corresponding to the growth in team members.

  1. Canva

The aesthetic appeal of a website and visual engagement largely depends on how you create and incorporate graphics into your website. For this, Canva is the ideal tool to opt for. The tool doesn’t involve a steep learning curve and allows creating beautiful graphics through pre-built templates. For small budget marketers, Canva offers the easiest way to create graphics.

  1. Piktochart

These days, infographics are all in rage as a visual representation of relevant information now draws more traction than mere texts. But high-impact, visually engaging infographics are often summed up as the creations of expert graphic designers. Well, Piktochart can deliver you similarly lucrative and visually appealing infographics through several pre-formatted and customisable templates.

  1. Docracy

Most businesses remain in complete darkness about creating legal documents. Whether it is about employment contracts or creating a basic service agreement for customers, you do not need to go from scratch thanks to the free collection of legal documents provided by this tool. You can further make them reviewed by legal professionals when you need or afford to do so.

  1. Expensify

The accounting staff of every company knows the tumult and trauma involved in delivering expense reports. It involves so minute and granular level tracking of receipts and bills, that the job looks daunting. Come to Expensify and you have the most sophisticated tool to take an entire load of expense tracking, receipt scanning and easy single-click reimbursement. The basic plan comes as free apart from a feature-rich corporate plan with a trial period for 30 days.

  1. Doodle

Coordinating events for a small business firm often involves too many hassles. Doodle helps you in this respect with a well organised calendar-based event coordination platform. Scheduling meetings and parties by raking everyone’s opinions have been made simple thanks to Doodle.

  1. Intercom

Small businesses often suffer from a lack of communication with the customers. Educating customers and spreading awareness is also of paramount importance for many businesses. An intercom is a robust tool with a whole array of functions allowing businesses to communicate through live chat and make user-focused interactions.

Conclusion

Obviously, there is a similar number of tools that missed this list and none of them deserves to be discredited of their effectiveness until and unless businesses find them helpful. At the same time, these tools may help many startups and businesses to know about tools they had no idea about.

 

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What You Should Know About the Perpetual License of the Prototyping Tools

With the fierce competition and the growing demand in the design market, the prototype software developers have resorted to their effort to meet the different user requirement. They launched a series of product service versions, such as free version, professional version, and the perpetual license version. Most of the UI/UX designers may have been familiar with the free version and pro version, but know little about the perpetual license. This article will introduce you about the perpetual license about four prototyping tools.

1. Axure RP

Axure has launched three versions: Pro, Team, and Enterprise. But the support for the perpetual license, that is limited to users who have already purchased the Professional or Team Edition. In the Axure RP 8.0 version, users can purchase license key at the price of $ 495 and $ 895. Moreover, once you purchased the perpetual license, you can have the software update for free in your lifetime.

What You Should Know About the Perpetual License

2. Justinmind


Justinmind provides subscribe and perpetual license for users. Whichever mode is selected, the user can experience all the Pro features. In terms of pricing, the perpetual license edition of Justinmind keeps consistent with Axure, both positioned at $495. But what worth saying is that, the perpetual licenses include minor and major version updates for 1 year. If you want to get new versions after the first year, the maintenance needs to be renewed each year for $99 per user.

What You Should Know About the Perpetual License

3. Balsamiq

Compared with the pricing strategy of Axure, Justinmind, Balsamiq offers more options based on the user’s different requirement. They can choose the volume license or upgrade license, as well as the single user license at the price of $89. According to the website, Mockups 3 for Desktop is a one time purchase; there are no maintenance costs for the license. Licenses are tied to humans, not a particular machine. But the site does not directly tell the user whether an additional purchase fee of upgrading is required. But with careful reading of the document, you can find that the major-version updates will have an additional cost.

What You Should Know About the Perpetual License

4. Mockplus

Mockplus also launched a perpetual license version in its 2.3 version at the price of $399. Users can enjoy all the professional features, such as exporting HTML, cloud sync, 3000+ icons, and so on. Compared with competitors, the advantage of Mockplus’s perpetual license is not only in its cheap price, good quality after-sales service. The most important is that the perpetual license of Mockplus is the only one that has no any additional fees or conditions: once purchase, lifelong use, and free update for the future versions. I think nobody will refuse a good prototyping tool that has no any additional fee with one time purchasing, but you can enjoy all the pro features.

What You Should Know About the Perpetual License

The essence of perpetual license is the commitment of the software developers for their users and the confidence of their future development. The choice of designer for prototyping tool is not only because it’s simple and easy to use, fundamentally speaking, that is because they trust in the software and their manufacturers.

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Prototyping Design Tutorial Roundup: Best Video Tutorials

In general, pen and paper prototyping is most often used to display conceptions in the product development process. Which processes simply and rapidly with a brief sketch. But you still have a lot of work to do, if you want to get the wireframes to be more perfect. On YouTube, somebody shows a paper-based prototype for Daum’s webmail service. All the button clicks and page interactions displayed logically and clearly by two people cooperated with each other. While time is money and everything at this quick tempo environment. Some users wondered how long it takes to rehearsal for the presentation. The more worried is the sequence of the paper pieces, and the problem of documents missing.

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Comparatively, employing with a variety of wireframing/prototyping tools is a more advanced operation. So many introduction or summary of such tools explosively listed. But, do you really know how to use it? Maybe some of you are eager to find out the video tutorial on YouTube or somewhere. It is better to teach you how to do it better than only names. There are some video tutorials of the frequently-used tools. Just take a look.

Wireframing Tool – Balsamiq

Balsamiq Tutorial

Balsamiq Mockups started in 2008 in California. It is the pioneer of hand-drawn style prototyping tool and reproduces the experience of sketching on a whiteboard. It is a simple wireframing tool, which means it cannot use to make the interactive prototype. To help users learn better and faster, a 3-minute video tutorial shows at the home page. More detailed tutorials are available on YouTube, such as this Balsamiq Tutorial with 65K + views, which created in November 2013.


Interactive Prototyping Tool – Mockplus

30 seconds prototyping with Mockplus

Mockplus is a simple and easy-to-learn interactive prototyping tool. Which interaction design is fully visualized, that’s WYSIWYG. It’s unique link points allowing you to create interactions between components and page drag and drop easily. A 10 minutes video tutorial available at the Tutorial page, that is, learning right, using right. Also, you can find more tutorials on YouTube, then you will learn that Mockplus could help you to achieve the more advanced and complicated interaction effects. Its comparative advantage could see from the “30 seconds prototyping with Mockplus”. Mockplus tutorial has accumulated 10K + views within a few months.

Interface Editing Tool- Sketch

Sketch App Tutorials Series Introduction

Sketch is a vector drawing application for all designers. Vector graphics is currently the best way to conduct web pages, icons, and interface design. Experienced designers spend a few hours can use it well with their own design skills in Sketch. If you are a beginner and don’t know how it works, simply follow the tutorial videos. LevelUpTuts’ Sketch App Tutorials Series Introduction, which has 300K + views will teach you well in learning Sketch.


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Collaboration & Presentation Tool – Invision

Invision video tutorial

Strictly speaking, InVision not an interaction design tool, but it can help designers and design teams to do prototyping more efficiently. Creating an online prototype requires only four parts: creating a project, uploading visual design drafts, adding links, and generating online prototypes to communicate with colleagues, users, and get feedback. A 3-minute video tutorial available on it’s website for a quick overview of Invision. Similarly, you can go to YouTube to find more detailed Invision video tutorial.

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