Best Tool To Run A Business With — Experts Weigh In

Running a business is a full-time job. Thankfully, there are a lot of really useful tools out there to help entrepreneurs run things smoothly. We asked our small business experts what their favorite tools are for running their businesses.

Here’s what they had to say…

“Without a doubt, our business would not be able to function without Google Drive. It’s free and we are able to share our documents with our business partners in other countries. We can even work together simultaneously on the same document. We use documents, spreadsheets and templates for invoices and other forms. It’s easy to insert our logos, signatures and other proprietary information.” –Jacquie Whitt, Adios Adventure Travel

“Crm, a contact relationship management software is vital. For three reasons, one to be able to share data about clients obtained by different employees. This way each employee can use the data as if they had the conversation first hand. Second as a central place to track other data specifically related to my business such as events registered for and membership information. Third is being able to schedule appointments and send emails to clients and prospects in one place.” –Scott Eisenberg,

“As a design agency, we built an internal tool called CuePin– a design collaboration tool that shaves off hours of design revisions that we used to write through email and chat programs like Skype. Now our team members, clients, designers and project managers, leave quick notes and feedback directly on the designs.” –Gabriel Kuperman, Huge Impact

“I would be lost without my project management software: Teamwork PM. Teamwork allows me to organize all of the different tasks into larger task buckets, create sub-tasks, dependencies, assign a priority to the task and assign to the person who has to get it complete. This is especially helpful during a large launch where we have multiple people working together: everyone knows exactly what’s expected of them, can see who’s assigned which task, and can arrange their own schedules based on the priority and due dates of tasks.” –Dawn Martinello,

“My favorite tool I use to run my business is definitely Dropbox. My business relies mostly on digital content to function, so I need a platform to store my files on the cloud. Dropbox works as a secure backup for all my data and as a very powerful tool to share files when developing projects with my clients. It also comes in handy when I work on different devices while traveling and need my content available on all of them without having to transfer data via external storage.” –Cristina Castro Moral, Sombras Blancas Art & Design

“The one thing I absolutely can’t live without with regard to running my business is Dropbox. This one resource makes it so easy for me to save anything and everything to one location and I can access it from everywhere. I work from two different computers and my phone so having access to documents and photos from wherever I may be is so valuable! I can also share folders with others and we can both utilize the location to update documents/projects without having to send a million emails back and forth. It is something a use every single day and can’t imagine not using it in my business!” –Cinnamon Wolfe, Cinnamon Wolfe Photography 

“I cannot imagine running my business without Microsoft Excel. Like most small businesses, the agility necessary to move quickly to capture opportunities does not align well with a large, cumbersome Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or inventory management infrastructure. For the small business with a mantra of fail fast, fix fast, Excel allows for quickly storing data in an organized spreadsheet, manipulating it through a myriad of ingenious formulas, visualizing trends and patterns through Pivot Tables and Charts, and later saving as a comma separated file (CSV) to upload to a more robust system. Most small businesses do not leverage Excel to its fullest analytical potential, which gives those that do a distinct competitive advantage.” –Derik Timmerman, Spreadsheet Sherpa

“I can’t imagine running my business without Slack, a task management software that enables our virtual team to communicate under ‘channels’ ie Projects/Assignments. With Slack, all of the many moving parts within our startup are easily categorized and followed up on- nothing to be lost in email any more. On slack, we communicate, collaborate, assign tasks, & upload documents all in one place. We can access it all online, any time….oh and it’s free!” –Makenzie Marzluff, Delighted By Hummus

“One of my roles is to manage our sales team, and I cannot imagine doing that without the help of the LilyPad Sales app. This user-friendly app has helped us optimize productivity, and best of all, our team loves to use it! LilyPad allows me to see where my team is with their accounts at any given time, making communication with my reps a breeze.” –Sara Daye, NoMo Nausea

“My favorite tool as an entrepreneur is Honeybook software. Honeybook is a client management system that helps keep track of everything from initial inquiries all the way through the booking process. It handles invoicing, billing, and even sales tax. The reports allow me to see exactly what my income and expected income is, and it will even send automated payment reminders to clients with my own branding.” –Maria Grace, Maria Grace Photography

“I couldn’t imagine running our business without Google Apps. It’s simple and straightforward. There are very few quirks and they don’t go over-the-top with unnecessary features. It’s always available and very fast. We use it for everything.” –Dayne Shuda, Ghost Blog Writers

“Revenue growth is the single most important aspect of every successful business so many businesses can greatly benefit from sales and contact management software such as CRMs. Considering most CRMs are clunky, overly complex, and high maintenance, it’s critical to choose one that eliminates manual data entry and works seamlessly with the tools your business uses every day. 

ProsperWorks is a zero-input CRM that was built for Gmail and the rest of Google Apps, which are tools that I rely on to run my business. It not only helps me track and manage all of my contacts including potential leads and existing clients but also allows me to easily view my deal pipeline. Best of all, it’s available as a web app, mobile app, and Chrome extension, so I can access it wherever I am.” –Mark Lee, Hokku PR

“One of our favorite tools is Hootsuite, a social media management system. As our client base is international, this tool allows us to get everyone engaged on social media, by scheduling our postings. The best part is that Hootsuite gives you the option to auto schedule their publishing and chooses the best time each one should be posted.” –Eirini Kafourou, Megaventory

“When working from home, Facebook and Twitter can be a major distraction. StayFocusd helps avoid these distractions by restricting the amount of time you can spend on them. The Google Chrome extension lets you set specific time restrictions on certain websites with a 10 minute default option. Once your time has been used up, the sites you have selected to block can’t be accessed for the remainder of the day.” –Lori Cheek, Cheekd

“Tools include Quickbooks Online (accounting), HipChat (for team chatting), Asana (for task, team and project management) and Google Apps (docs, sheets, calendar). The most important tool thought is Asana allows us to project, task and team manage our projects and ongoing activities. 

As a small company facing growing pains, Asana was the light at the end of the tunnel. It increased workflow in our organization along with accountability for tasks and projects. There are so many great online tools to help run your business, but Asana is a tool that almost any business could use to be more productive and organized overall.” –Lysa Miller, Ladybugz Interactive Agency and

“My favorite tool in my arsenal? Discernment. I can have all the spreadsheets, reports, apps, balance sheets and a powerful team around me, but what it always boils down to is discernment. The ability to make sound judgment and the right decisions. the tough decisions that need to be made. Start seeking some inner truth and practicing ways to sharpen your decision-making ability using discernment and let it become your most important tool. one you can’t run your business without.” –Kornel Kurtz, WebTek is a resource every small business owner should use. It has incredible content and business advice from executive thought leaders. It gives you the ability to filter content by category (ex. Forecasting & Budgeting, IPOs, M&A, Raising Capital, Technology, etc.). The content comes from a wide variety of leaders, including Jeff Bonforte (Yahoo), Jay Gruden (Redskins), Lee Iacocca (Chrysler), Larry King, Chris Nassetta (Hilton), and Bill Novelli (AARP). Users must register to see all the content, but everything is free — which is exactly what small business owners need!” –Elizabeth Venafro, Konvergent, LLC

“My favorite tool is undoubtedly LinkedIn. No other tool gives you the insight into another organization like LinkedIn does. It’s basically an unofficial org chart which can help you target the correct individual in the organization. If you’re doing any type of outbound sales, LinkedIn is a goldmine!” –Paul Chittenden, Bad Ass Work Gear

“I honestly couldn’t imagine running my business without Microsoft Excel. Yes, there are tons of web based services to automatically keep track of certain things, but nothing beats custom built excel dashboards designed for your exact needs. We use excel for everything from tracking Marketing efforts, to inventory management and financial projections. When designed the right way excel can automate all the calculations you need to know to have a pulse on your business.” –Michael O’Donnell, Cave Tools

“I’m always looking to squeeze more out of each hour so tools that let me automate manual tasks jump to the top of my list. I lean heavy on tasks set up in IFTT  and Zapier for everything from accounting to marketing.” –Ryan Ruud, Lake One, LLC

“I can’t imagine running my business it without Google Analytics, especially since we are online only for the time being. GA s an amazingly versatile free tool that allows us to see what sections or the website are doing well and what section aren’t. Plus, Google keeps on expanding features to include demographic details, where people are coming from, etc. Honestly, I can’t imagine running my business without it, but don’t tell Google as they might start charging for it.” -Ian Wright,

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