Ask any entrepreneur and he or she will tell you that they keep a couple tricks up their sleeve to help keep their business running smoothly. We asked our small business experts what their favorite tips, tricks, and tools were for running their business. These are the top 53:
1.“My favorite tool is Google Keep: it’s amazing and always comes in handy while making a to do list, writing down a thought that I want to expand on, categorizing different lists, etc.
Categorizing different lists is very important for me and it’s what I want to tell you about . For example, we’re building an Android app, so there’s a whole list of things I need to take care regarding that and then there is another long lost of investment related aspects I have to get on. Most to do lists are one dimensional and don’t allow categorizing.
Also, Keep gives space for a lot of collaboration. If I’m busy with an
investor, my co-founder can start checking off urgent work from my list.” -Anurag Bhatia, Minance
2.“Linked & Facebook – they are the answer to zero budget marketing, branding, networking, connecting, and growing!” – Felicia Seedorf, Chapman & Associates
3.“There is no way that my life, and business for that matter, would survive and thrive without TrackMaven for iPhone. Not only does the app allow me to see how we’re doing against competitors, but it provides me with real-time, actionable analytics that help identify opportunities and threats. TrackMaven is the modern SWOT analysis for marketers and entrpreneurs without the headache. What is more, having the data in a customizable, personal alert at my fingertips, frees me up to focus on the areas of my business that need my attention the most, like top line revenue and business development.” – Hussain Manjee, DHD Films
4.“My favorite entrepreneur trick is… going to lunch! I get away and try to work a crossword puzzle, the old fashioned way, with a pencil and paper. It totally clears my head.” – Molly Dye, CareZips
5.“One of my go-to apps is a simple Chrome browser plugin called Strict Workflow. In addition to being a pomodoro timer, it also blocks certain distracting websites (which you can set) for the pomodoro period. This helps me get in the zone and focus on tasks in 25 minute bursts all while eliminating distractions.” – Sandy Sidhu, Sandy Sidhu Media
6.“Our favorite tool is a zendesk plugin; channelreply.com. It is a marketplace CRM system that lets us easily answer ebay and amazon questions within zendesk. This saves us time, boosts customer service rating which in turn boosts sales.” – Mike Dash, CarPartKings.com
7.“My favorite entrepreneur app is called Relaxing Sounds Of Nature Lite. It’s a neat little app that plays soothing relaxing sounds. When I’m faced with a difficult decision I get tense and stressed. Listening to his app helps me relax one muscle at a time. It clears my mind and helps me make a smart informative decision.” – Lisa Chu, Black N Bianco Children’s Formal Wear
8.“Our favorite tool is Buffer: It excels at automating all of our social media posts by setting up proper posting schedules and allows us to appear extremely active… increasing our engagements and exposure.” -Tam Pham, StudentHero
9.“I use HoursTracker on my iPhone. Even when I’m working on projects that are not billable. Every minute to me is valuable and I want to know where I’m spending my time. I want to make sure I’m taking every moment to move toward my goals. It’s also great for encouraging discipline because staying on the clock keeps me aware of potential distractions.” –Matthew Turner, Boston Turner Group
10.“We operate our business almost exclusively from our Palm 3.0s while running only the Netscape browser and playing Snake in our downtime.
But seriously, our business wouldn’t operate without Slack for daily communication and Asana for task management. Used together, these tools make our remote-working relationship highly productive.” – Sander DiAngelis, mojagear.com
11.“We absolutely love Wunderlist. It keeps us organized and gives us a platform where we can not only share ideas, images, or whatever else but it also gives us an all-in-one way of commenting on those ideas/images/etc too. We love it when planning out our monthly goals and the status or progress of our current projects.” – Evin Charles Anderson, Waverley Knobs Entertainment
12.“One thing that I use to keep my head on straight is sleepyti.me, a website that is as simple as it is efficient. It helps keep my sleep cycles in check, and helps me plan my days around the times when I will not be interrupted from deep sleep if my alarm goes off. This prevents having unproductive days, where you feel drowsy and unmotivated due to breaking your sleep cycles. Ever since I started tracking my sleeping, I find I wake up more alert, and even found that its not how long is sleep, its how much quality sleep I get that’s important. That being said, my productivity, planning and overall foresight has tremendously improved.” – Thomas Brierton, Bryer Leather
13.“*TINYpulse*. Employee engagement is the backbone of our company so we use our own tool. By using TINYpulse, it has kept me on a constant rhythm of receiving and responding to my team’s feedback. For example, I discovered through TINYpulse that our onboarding process left a lot to be desired. I stood up and took accountability and pledged that we’ll go from “zero to hero” and that others will write case studies on our onboarding process in the future as we strive to improve.” – David Niu, TINYpulse
14.“I’m a list junkie. Between managing a growing online jewelry boutique, a family with young children, and a husband, my list of to-dos never end. In order to feel productive and organized I can’t live without my Notes app on my iPhone. I’ve used Trello and various other list management apps and tools but I always come back to the basics. Sometimes simplicity helps provide clarity in a crazy day.” – Elissa Spektor, Love & Pieces
15.“The essential app I use as Co-Founder of Projective Space – a techincubator & co working space: I swear by it. And so do Projective Space’s start ups. It is the simplest antidote to the most common affliction (and embarrassing) trait of the entrepreneur: inability to finish what you set out to do.
Launch Clock. I have this prominently displayed in front of my team’s workspace. It is everything. Nothing is more important at the office than this: It humbles, it inspires, it focuses you and your team.” – Timmy Wahba, Projective Space
16.“My hidden secret tool as an entrepreneur is Crossfit. I start the day with an intensely challenging workout that forces me to take my mind and body out of its comfort zone. This helps me to think outside the box as an entrepreneur and not to play it comfortably. I also use a meditation app several times a day to center myself right before or after a challenging situation.” – Wendy Muhammad, Minimally Invasive Vascular Centers
17.“My favorite entrepreneurial tool is Smartbrief.com. They compile an email of timely, quick read teasers from top publications. You chose your preferences – industries, topics, frequency, etc.; SmartBrief sends you an email containing the latest information being written about them. If you want to know more, open the links, and read the full article. If you feel the article can help your network, there are easy to use posting links.” – Cheri Zandlo, ZandBear.
18.“I am a professional proofreader of legal transcripts for court reporters, and the iOS app iAnnotate has helped me proofread more transcripts faster, skyrocketing my clients from just a handful to over 30, earning me $3000-$5000 a month. I’ve also created an online course to show others how to proofread like I do, and include screencasts of me using iAnnotate — the app is helping me draw in more students to my course and helping them make more money, too. I don’t know where I’d be without iAnnotate!” – Caitlin Pyle, Proofread Anywhere
19.“My favorite tool is Hashtag Startup. It’s an online community of fellow small business owners that are communicating in real time, answering each others questions, and sharing valuable resources and strategies. If I need to know the best tool for the job, ask for feedback on a design decision, or simply commiserate with a global community of fellow entrepreneurs facing similar struggles, I know I can rely on the #Startup channel to be there with enthusiastic, vetted advice.” –Nick Teeple, Skyline Servers
20.“Awhile back I spent some time learning the basics of google script, the coding language that allows you to write programs for google programs, like google docs, spreadsheets, and presentations. I’m by no means a technical person, but learning the fundamentals of the programming language was not all that time consuming and it has saved me countless hours of repetitive work with things like mail merges, automatic uploads, and maintainingconsistency between documents. Pairing the skill with the pre-built automation apps on Zapier (www.Zapier.com) drastically increases the number of use cases.” -James Fayal, Zest Tea
21.“My favorite app is focusatwill.com. The site plays music which is specifically designed to keep you in the zone. It’s especially powerful for getting me through the post lunch afternoon lulls!” -David T. Waring, Fit Small Business
22.“My favorite trick is waking up early and making a to-do list of things that I can finish that day. It helps start my day right and figure out what’s important.” -Luciana Torous, 3 Leaf Tea, LLC
23.“Clarity.fm, which offers on demand business advice, has been an invaluable tool for me in building my business. When I am stuck on a problem and looking for a solution, it is one of the first places I go. With just a few clicks I can have a call scheduled with an expert to ask for advice in whatever aspect of the business is giving me trouble.” -Max Galka, Revaluate
24.“My favorite tool in running our business and that of our clients is LiveChat– it’s incredible, allows us to stay in touch with potential clients and communicate rapidly with them. We’ve used it for over 1 year now and our customers love it. Great support and ticketing system as well for existing clients.” -Aalap Shah, SoMeconnect.com
25.“My favorite tool is the DropBox app because now I can share my files with business partners, and I can also edit documents from anywhere. I feel like my work is always with me whether I’m using my computer, phone or tablet.” -Paul Etienne, 1Branch
26.“The tool that has saved my business and sanity is FreshBooks. FreshBooks is an easy way to bill clients, track hours and manage clients. Billing used to be something I completely dreaded, but now what once took me hours every week now takes maybe 15 minutes.” -Shannon Palme, Shannon Palme Design
27.“My favourite entrepreneurial tool is ODesk and similar freelancing websites. It’s been an indispensable tool for hiring freelancers for short-term or long-term related work. It speeds up the process of finding and hiring someone to do the task, which can be done in a day or two, and offers tremendous savings since freelancers offer lower rates than businesses offering the same services. I also regularly hire freelancers to do the tasks that I really hate doing, no matter how big or small the task.” -Hasmik Petrosian, UNI-Prep Institute
28.“My favorite tool is my guitar tuning app. When I’m feeling stressed or need a break from the business, I tune up and play for a little while. I also tend to come up with some of my most creative ideas for the business while playing.” -Dylan Murphy, SuperHealos, LLC
29.“My favourite tool of the moment is an app called Inspectlet-The video playback tool allows me to watch live sessions of people on my website. I use the app to study one page at a time to understand the issues that people are having with that page and to then fix them. The tool has helped us really understand the questions people have but do not ask.” -Joel Chudleigh, Made to Last
30.“Learning to say “no” is probably the best productivity hack. But I recently started using Evernote and really like it. It gets better the more you use it and it helps me keep track of everything.” -Sam Rosen, MakeSpace
31.“Hootsuite for scheduling and managing social media accounts. Also, Followliker for growing our social media followers, but I’ve found that this is kind of frowned upon by most people.” -Steve Mara, Ho Stevie!
32.“One of the things I do to help run my small business is read a motivational quote from the app DailyQuote each morning. It’s amazing what a simple, yet effective, quote can do to jumpstart your day. As a business owner, you always have to find ways to keep yourself energetic and excited about your product and more importantly excited about the people you are serving.” -Cody McGraw, SCOUT Military Discounts
33.“The tool or trick is using social media websites for prospecting and marketing. Using social media websites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., I have unlimited access to targeted people that will benefit from my service. Also making connections to people that need assistance in buying or selling a home, whether with my company or another.” –Andre Harris, American Lending Inc.
34.“I like Zoho Mail because of its simplicity and convenience. It has many of the same features of Gmail and the price points are better. I also like that my information is not sold to other companies, unlike Google. Zoho Mail is by far the best alternative to Google.” -Kallen Diggs, Reaching The Finish Line
35.“My favorite tool is hootsuite.com. I can schedule my posts for the week on all my social media accounts on one platform. It’s a life saver! Now, I can invest those saved hours into other things needed for my online store.” –Melissa Mamelli, GAMEDAY GODDESS
36.“I believe the best way for me to be at peak performance is to have a solid morning and night routine. To do this, I created lists using Scribbless.com. Every morning, my list is the first thing on my computer screen, and it keeps me disciplined to stick to what I need to do to be at my best, while avoiding things like Facebook and emails. And at night, I start my routine to end my day, which helps me get to sleep faster and wake recharged to start again.” -David J. Bradley, Primal Digital Marketing
37.“My favorite tool that helps me run my business is Unroll.me because it takes all my ”subscription” emails out of my inbox, then sends me ONE email at the end of the day with summaries that I can click on to read the full email if I want. I don’t spend my whole day clearing my inbox anymore and when I go through the Rollup, I can glance at the emails and only open the ones I really want to read. Plus, I can one-click unsubscribe from any of them. I no longer fear my inbox!” -Laura C George, Business Consultant for Artists
38.“I spend the first five minutes of workday looking at the financials of the business. I check each bank account & the debt accounts, and reconcile them with the cash flow plan in YNAB.com. May seem weird for the CEO to do the books herself (especially since I have a bookkeeper), but this way I know the *exact* status of the cash of the business, and I’m never surprised.” -Elizabeth Potts Weinstein, EPW Small Business Law PC
39.“I joined Entrepreneurs’ Organization San Francisco chapter almost 2 years ago, and after 12 years in business I can say that what I’ve learned in my forum and through the organization has made the biggest difference in my business in terms of staying focused, setting big enough goals and getting peer-input to help solve problems. That and getting a personal trainer so I go to the gym.” -Lee Caraher, Author of Millennials & Management: The Essential Guide To Making it Work at Work
40.“My favorite tool that helps me to run my small business right now is IFTTT(www.ifttt.com). The full name is If This Than That, which allows you to set up rules online, that if one action occurs, triggers another. This makes it easy for me to do things like, keep track of mentions on social media, post to social media automatically, keep a log of articles I want to read later / or love, and even save songs to listen to while I work.” -Ezra Rufino, NYMB.co
41.“Working continuously actually makes us less productive. Forcing yourself to take a break every 90 minutes might not seem like much, but it helps keep you working at your best by better syncing with our natural energy levels. I love 30/30 because it’s free, has a lovely interface and reminds me to take a break every 90 minutes.” -Lark Ismail, Lark’s Virtual Solutions
42.“One of my favorite entrepreneurial tools is Trello.com. It’s a great way to manage projects with multiple teams and create to do lists. I use it with my consulting clients as well as with my team when we’re working on larger projects.” -Joseph R. Sanok, Mental Wellness Counseling
43.“I find the Pomodoro app invaluable because it gets me on a roll. It’s basically a timer but when I need to concentrate on a task with no distractions, it’s the perfect motivation. It gives you 25 minutes to do one thing…just the right amount of time, not too long, not too short. And I don’t allow anything to take my focus…no email/phone/text, just work.” -Kirsten Goede, Statement Design
44.“In today’s ever changing social media climate marketing sometimes becomes very complex. When our company adjusts it’s social media marketing I found it very helpful to go to www.Alexa.com. By searching our competition’s websites this gives us a very handy and user friendly way to see what the main search terms are for the other sites. We then move our social marketing terms to incorporate the top five competitor’s terms to draw down their business and increase our own.” –Rick Tresnak, Innovative Rescue Solutions
45.“I have a voice recording app that lets me take notes out-loud when a good idea comes to mind. The name of the app is Voice Record Pro.
Since I’m on the go so much and there isn’t always time to write everything down, this is a great way to record ideas. At the end of the week, I go through my recordings and jot down the best notes from the week and put them in a journal.
This has helped me be the best entrepreneur I can be!” -Jason Parks, The Media Captain
46.“I’ve been an entrepreneur for almost a decade and the only tool I haven’t changed is a black moleskin pad and a quality fountain pen. I use them both to make priority lists in the morning and note taking in the evening. There is simply nothing better.” -Jonathan Gibaud, EmergencyFoodStorage.co.uk
47.“I use an online scheduling system called Time Trade so clients and prospects can schedule our appointments right into my calendar. This means there is no back and forth via email or having to spend my Assistant’s time on making appointments. It’s a money and time saver!” – Meredith Liepelt, Rich Life Marketing
48.“Go on a Listening Tour! Politicians do it all the time and it is great for business too. Make a list the movers & shakers, people you admire and prospects, ask a few smart open ended questions then sit back and take notice. They will be more than happy to tell you what is on their mind. If you listen to what they share with you there will be plenty of opportunities to help them. I did it when the recession started and picked up several new clients. It is a great way to connect and a lot of fun too. Start listening with no strings attached, you’ll be amazed what you find. It does not cost much, for the price of a few coffees and meals you will get an earful. I had no idea what to expect and got a lot of work as a result. I run a marketing firm and I did my listening tour the old fashioned way by sending out e-mails & picking up the phone then brought a pad & pen, asked a few open ended questions then shut up and started taking notes.” – Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls
49.“I love using SumAll. This little app and website connects to your Twitter account and instantly monitors the effectiveness of your social media efforts. Now I know which tweets convert into sales, what my audience wants to read about and how my different social media channels are performing compared to historic figures. Best of all, this tool is completely free.” -Jordhy Ledesma, Information Providers
50.“Like many entrepreneurs I use many apps, but one I can’t seem to function without is Evernote. Not only does it save writing ideas and resources, research, and lists, but I modified my GTD schedule so that Evernote has my daily to-dos, activities and projects. Because Evernote is web-based, I can access, modify, add to or delete, items from my phone, tablet or Kindle wherever I happen to be.” -Leslie Truex, WorkAtHomeSuccess.com
51.“My favorite tool is the old fashioned hourglass on my desk. When I feel distracted or have a project that is overwhelming I use the hourglass. While the sand flows I commit to the task at hand 100% knowing that its only an hour. It really helps me stay focused and productive.” -John Olson, Graystone Industries Inc.
52.“In response to your query for the favorite business tool/app to run a small business, I use this cool app Cam Scanner. After a couple business meetings or events, I usually end up with a stack of business cards that are very useful but not immediately sometimes. So, I use the app to scan the business cards & store them all in one place. Not just the cards, its also handy to scan my invoices, receipts, and in my business-designs, and I never have to worry about losing them again! It’s a real time saver for my business!” – Jyotsna Vasudeva, Govinds Grove LLC
And lastly, our own CEO Deborah Sweeney chimes in:
53.”I like to take at least one 10-minute meditation break during the day using the Omvana app. It clears my mind, recharges my energy, and gets me ready for whatever the rest of the day brings. I try and do it around lunch-time- right after the morning rush and before the afternoon slump.” -Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation