Through the years, we have been honored to work with clients at every stage and across every function of their business. Whether it was helping a ‘mom an pop’ write their first letter to a potential client, implementing a new sales funnel for rapid growth firm, or leading new product development/introduction at a global enterprise; we have seen dozens (maybe hundreds) of tools used to accomplish business goals.
In this post, we wanted to share the ultimate list of apps, groups, and sites for every business need. This isn’t a “KPS” list, rather the result of dozens of ‘best app for…’ searches, reviewing dozens of blogger suggestions, interviews with category experts, and so on.
While the following layout may not be exact, we have attempted to share them according to a possible business growth path…from entrepreneur to established enterprise. Wherever you are in business, we believe you will find a business tool (or two) that will help….
Abraham Lincoln said “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” If you couple that with “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience” (Patrick Henry) then you will understand our first category.
- Entrepreneurs’ Organization – A Global business network of 11,000+ leading entrepreneurs in 150 chapters and 48 countries. Founded in 1987 by a group of young entrepreneurs, EO enables business owners to learn from each other, leading to greater business success and an enriched personal life.
- StartUp Grind – Startup Grind is a global startup community designed to educate, inspire, and connect entrepreneurs. It is powered by Google for Entrepreneurs. A few milestones include 79k minutes of free education, 215,977 members and attendees, and 1,903 events since 2010.
- Vistage – Started in 1957, Vistage now has 19,000+ members, in 1,874 cities, hosting more then 16,000 meetings per year.
Now that you will be meeting with other business leaders and striving to become an industry leader, you must stay on top of industry trends, economic influences, and so. Here are a few apps that will allow you to aggregate the data that is important to you, your company, and its market.
- Inside – [INSIDE] curates the best journalism in real time
- Flipboard – Discover stories that impact your life, career and creative path – hand-picked by people who share your passions.
- Feedly – A single place to easily read all the news you rely on to think, learn, and keep ahead
Okay you have the idea/product/experience, you have been meeting with some peers and mentors, and you are staying up with market trends. Now it is time to start sharing it all with the world!
- Ghost – Ghost is a platform dedicated to one thing: Publishing. It’s beautifully designed, completely customizable and completely Open Source. Ghost allows you to write and publish your own blog, giving you the tools to make it easy and even fun to do.
- Medium – Medium’s composing tool is truly what-you-see-is-what-you-get and has just the right amount of formatting to tell your stories without getting in the way. It’s simple, beautiful, and collaborative. There are no gratuitous sidebars, plug-ins, or widgets. There is nothing to set up or customize. When you write on Medium, you’ll know that your words and pictures will look great on any device.
- WordPress – Open source WordPress is the most popular online publishing platform, currently powering more than 20% of the web. The WordPress.com network welcomes more than 409 million people viewing more than 15.5 billion pages each month. Our users publish about 41.7 million new posts and leave 60.5 million new comments each month.
- Blogger – Create your custom home on the web. Design your blog your way, and use it to share whatever’s on your mind. Google purchase Blogger in 2002, making integration with Google+, Hangouts, and AdWords very easy.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Now the world knows (kind of) and clients, vendors, and the rest of your network is going to begin growing quickly. Relationships are key to both the growth and sustainability of your business, so take time to review some of these options. Notice – some are full platforms, while others are helpful apps/tools.
- Salesforce – 16 years ago, Salesforce has reinvented CRM and has become the world’s leading enterprise cloud ecosystem.
- Zoho – Zoho CRM gives you a 360-degree view of your complete sales cycle and pipeline. Identify trends, spot opportunities, increase efficiency and reduce costs with the right answers, right now.
- Nimble – Manage relationships without data entry. Nimble automatically updates itself with relevant prospect and customer information from dozens of data sources
- Streak – CRM, inside Gmail. Streak was born out of the frustration of constantly switching between our inbox (where we do our work) and external systems.
- Contactually – gives sales teams the best of both worlds… the CRM-like features they need to organize prospects and generate new leads, with the simple user interface and one-click email and calendar integration they want.
Charlie – Charlie combs through 100’s of sources and automatically sends you a one‐pager on everyone you’re going to meet with, before you see them.
Content & Idea Generation
Alright, let’s shift back to your blog/website. If you can become the industry leader or provide interesting content, your customers/clients (potential and current) are more likely to keep coming back to your site.
- HubSpot Blog Topic Generator – Fill in the fields with terms (preferably nouns) that you’d like to write about, and we’ll come up with a week’s worth of relevant blog post titles in a matter of seconds!
- Hemingway – Makes your writing bold and clear. The app highlights long, complex sentences and common errors. Identify long, difficult sentences, correct word usage, etc.
- Readability Test Tool – The Readability Test Tool takes the text on your web page and gives a score for the most used readability indicators
- Word2CleanHTML – Word to clean HTML is a free converter tool for documents produced by Microsoft Word and similar office software. Word to clean HTML strips out invalid or proprietary tags, leaving clean HTML behind for use in web pages and ebooks.
- Sometimes you are just too busy…hire someone to research and write content!
- Zerys – Zerys is a comprehensive content strategy planner, content production platform, and professional writer marketplace… all rolled into one! Zerys makes it easy to plan your content strategy, create engaging titles, and plan your editorial calendar. Then, use SmartPost, our patented crowd-sourcing technology, to name your own price, find top writing talent, and build your team of trusted writers.
- MuckRack – Public relations and communications software built for the digital, traditional and social media world. Identify and contact journalists, bloggers and freelancers around the world, monitor the news and build reports on your PR efforts. MuckRack is trusted by top-tier journalists, global PR agencies and Fortune 500 companies, in addition to many boutique agencies and entrepreneurs.
- Sometimes you are just too busy…hire someone to research and write content!
Design & Graphics
You have taken the time to build a great site and develop solid content, don’t lose potential customers because your site looks dull. Unless your business in in the creative space, you are going to need some help with visuals, graphics, and so.
- Canva – Design shouldn’t be hard. Canva gives you everything you need to easily turn ideas into stunning designs. Create designs for Web or print: blog graphics, presentations, Facebook covers, flyers, posters, invitations and so much more.
- Pablo by Buffer – Engaging social images in 30 seconds
- PicMonkey – makes creative tools for photo editing and graphic design because we want you to rock the universe. We want your images to show your creativity, your style, your spot-on brilliance.
- Unsplash – Free (do whatever you want) high-resolution photos. 10 new photos every 10 days.
- New OldStock – Vintage photos from the public archives. Free of known copyright restrictions. Recapturing history,
- Fancy Crave – Royalty free high resolution images for your personal and commercial projects. Two new images every day!
- Pix Tellar – Make easy a bunch of powerful image quotes, banners, greeting cards or any amazing design you wish.
Social Media Management
“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” If you have a great site, with solid content and no one knows about…You get it.
- Buffer – Buffer is the best way to drive traffic, increase fan engagement and save time on social media.
- Hootsuite – Manage social networks, schedule messages, engage your audiences,
and measure ROI right from the dashboard.
- Socialoomph – Twitter, Facebook (profiles, pages, and groups), LinkedIn (profiles, groups, and company pages), RSS feeds, blogs, Plurk, and App.net! Easily schedule updates, find quality people to follow, and monitor social media activity!
- Sprout – Create an Exceptional Experience Across Networks. Sprout’s collaborative platform ensures smarter, faster and more efficient social communications.
- A few Twitter specific-focused tolls..
- Crowdfire – Manage your Twitter accounts far more effectively by find inactive followers, those who have unfollowed you, etc.
- IgnitWit – Natural follower finder, it’s (mostly) free…we do not sell followers
- Tweepi – Make sense of your Twitter account
- SocialBro – The SocialBro Platform enables advanced segmentation and audience insight into Twitter users – not just based on what they say or who they are, but how they think.
- A few Twitter specific-focused tolls..
Your meeting, Tweeting, and a regular social butterfly. Let’s not forget that we all have work to do…
- Office365 – Whether you’re working in your office or on the go, you get a familiar, top-of-the-line set of productivity tools. Office applications—always the latest versions—let you create, edit, and share from your PC/Mac or your iOS, Android™, or Windows device with anyone in real time.
- GoogleDocs – With Google Docs, you can write, edit, and collaborate wherever you are. For free.
- Evernote – From inspiration to achievement, Evernote is where your work takes shape. Write, collect, discuss, and present, all from one workspace. Plug-ins with Office365 and GoogleDocs.
Now that your delivering on customer deliverables, you need to be more diligent about storing that data. Leave your laptop in the cab….trouble connecting to your company’s VPN…or a crashed hard drive the day of your big presentation? Sure. You might as well tell them you dog ate your homework! Make sure your data is secure and accessible across devices and platforms. Consider other apps on this one…does it sync with your CRM, Project Management, and other tools?
- Google Drive – Your files in Drive can be reached from any smartphone, tablet, or computer. So wherever you go, your files follow.
- Dropbox – Get to all your files from anywhere, on any device, and share them with anyone.
- OneDrive – Keep all your files in OneDrive, your free cloud storage. Access and share them from your phone, tablet, or computer
- Box – Secure, effortless collaboration from any device. Box makes it easy to manage and share files across your business.
Email Insight & Optimization
Look at you! Rubbing shoulders with other business leaders, managing your relationships, and publishing great content. As much as we want to automate and leverage various apps, the dominant business tools is still email. Leverage one or more of these to get the most from email.
- Banana Tag – Schedule, track, and analyze email. Gmail templates, CRM integration, etc.
- Sidekick – Supercharge your email. Know who opens your emails, when, how many times and from where. Always be in the know and communicate the smart way, by having data at your side.
- Cirrus Insight – Your inbox perfectly integrated with Salesforce. Email tracking, templates, calendar sync and more for Gmail and Outlook.
- Mailbox – Redesigned the inbox to make email light, fast, and mobile-friendly. Quickly swipe messages to your archive or trash and scan entire conversations in a chat-like view. It’s a whole new inbox.
- Sanebox – SaneBox works on top of your email account. It prioritizes important emails and summarizes the rest. Nothing to download, install or learn – it just works.
Email & Marketing Automation
Even with a great website, you will have special offers and exciting news you want to share with your contacts. Marry your great content with your CRM platform and start automating some of your messaging, with some wisdom behind it.
- Constant Contact – Email marketing is the most effective way to drive people to your door. And with Constant Contact, you get the #1 tool for creating beautiful emails that drive real business results. From customizable templates, to drag-and-drop editing, to automation features—we make it easier than ever to send the best email fast.
- MailChimp – Send better email. Join more than 9 million people who use MailChimp to design and send 600 million emails every day
- InfusionSoft – We are transforming sales and marketing for small business. Our software, services and educational content help small businesses get organized, grow sales and save time. By combining sales and marketing tools in one system, we help entrepreneurs save time and simplify operations.
- HubSpot – You want to nurture your marketing leads to sales-readiness. But how do you streamline your efforts when every lead is different? With HubSpot’s interconnected tools, you can use real-time marketing data to provide relevant, contextual marketing experiences to every contact in your database.
- Pardot by Salesforce – B2B marketing automation by Salesforce Work Together. Win Together. Create a Marketing and Sales Super Team.
Your business is operating on all cylinders and your initiatives are shifting from simple checklists, to all out projects! Stay organized, track all the workstreams, and keep your team in the loop.
- VivifyScrum – Easy to use! Easy to configure! Scrum Compatible! Kanban Compatible!
- Trello – Drop the lengthy email threads, out-of-date spreadsheets, no-longer-so-sticky notes, and clunky software for managing your projects. Trello lets you see everything about your project in a single glance.
- Asana – Communication re-imagined from the ground up. Conversations and tasks are in one place, so everything is actionable and transparent. When less of your time is spent in email, you’ll have more time to get work done.
- Basecamp – Basecamp keeps people on the same page. No matter what your role is, everyone works toward a common goal: finishing a project together.
- Smartsheet – Instantly familiar, so everyone on your team “gets it” and hits the ground running. With one centralized, always-available tool. Attach files, set alerts, automate workflows, view Gantt charts and more.
Most businesses will move past basic project management and require much more robust Portfolio and Project Management. Managing resource utilization, running reports across various departments, and so on. This is when you will wan to kick-up a bit from a Project Management tool, to a Portfolio Management tool…
- Workfront – The only project management software that expertly manages all of your work, not just projects. We call it Enterprise Work Management—a proven, cloud-based solution that manages all your projects in one place..
- Clarizen – From one cloud-based project management system you can ask for input and brainstorm ideas; approve initiatives; build a roadmap…and more.
- Innotas – A 100% Cloud Portfolio Management Software for IT Management, PMOs, and Agile Development Management. A Gartner PPM Magic Quadrant “Leader” – 4 Years In A Row!
Just as things pickup, along comes a lull. It isn’t uncommon at any stage of business or for any size of business. Even with a full pipeline, you may come up against the need for a someone with specialized skills or someone to support a short-term project. The ability to secure reliable, top talent is crucial to getting that next client or having a valued customer remain a customer.
- Clarity – A marketplace that connects entrepreneurs with top advisers & industry experts to conduct market research, get strategic business advice, or learn a specialized skill to help them grow their business.
- Space Chimp – An exclusive network of over 500+ elite creative and technical gurus built to help startups, brands, and local businesses consistently create great work.
- Upwork – Find freelancers to tackle any job, any size, any time.
- Us…Kelly Project Solutions for all of your Project Management needs! (Sorry, we had to!)
All of the apps to this point are great, but many cost money! Just like the various providers, you are also in this to make money1 And the specialized contractor you just hired will expect to get paid. Check these out…
- Harvest – Trusted by 35,000+ businesses in over 100 countries, Harvest lets you track time and expenses, connect with your favorites tools, and create/send/accept payments easily.
- Freshbooks – Find Out Why Forbes Magazine Calls FreshBooks “Incredibly User Friendly.” FreshBooks makes your accounting tasks easy, fast and secure.Start sending invoices, tracking time and capturing expenses in minutes.
- Hiveage – An online billing service for freelancers and small businesses, designed and developed by Vesess. Being a small business ourselves, we’re well aware of the difficulties they face in managing finances, and Hiveage is our take on how to simplify the process.
- Quickbooks – Online version used globally, by over 1 million paying customers. Whether you’re an independent contractor, small business, or enterprise; Quickbooks has a solution for you. QuickBooks helps you keep track of the money coming in and out of your business, all in one easy-to-use place.
Website & SEO Analytics
Now that you have a full sales and marketing strategy underway, it is time to really optimize your efforts. Don’t let great content get lost in a Google search or your customers get lost in your site. Understand who is doing what and how you can help them find it quicker!
- Segment – Segment is one place to collect customer data and send it to your tools for analytics, marketing automation, and raw data access with SQL.
- Google Analytics – Turn insights into action. Improve performance across your sites, apps, and offline marketing. Google’s analytics solutions can help you turn customer insights into action for your business.
- MOZ – Products to power your online visibility. Online marketing is complicated. Moz software makes it easy. Moz started in 2004 and has 35,000+ customers today.
- Crazy Egg – With heatmaps, see how people really use your site. Build a site that your users and customers love. Once you know what they use and what they don’t, all of your changes will make a difference
- Hotjar – From startups to million-dollar companies…50,774 Organizations in 174 countries improve their sites with Hotjar.
Social Media Analytics
Social media has proven to be a phenomenal tool for businesses to reach customers, but that is just one part of social media. The real power happens when companies learn to listen to their clients and market! What are customers saying about you? What is your competition saying?
- Simply Measured – The most complete social analytics solution designed for the world’s biggest brands.
- SumAll – The tools you need to make you the best CMO, online seller, digital marketer, etc. Analytics, Reports, Insights, and more.
- SocialReport – Social Report is an all-in-one social media management and reporting solution that efficiently allows you to track and also manage all of your social network accounts from one place
- Zuum – You’ll be amazed at how easily you can create an impressive social media Benchmarking Report with Zuum. Determine how your brand ranks against your competitors across numerous KPIs and social networks.
- Crowbooster – Have the right tools to help you make data-drive decisions. Measure & Optimize your social media marketing.
- Commun.it – The world’s top brands trust Commun.it, the Easiest Way to Manage your social community – It’s Magical!
- Bottlenose – offers the first unified solution that provides flexible and secure business intelligence for stream data we call it Stream Intelligence™
Again, we come back to money. All your efforts are starting to pay off and client demand is through the roof! Unfortunately, you need additional funds to implement another manufacturing line, purchase more materials, etc.
- Fundable – We’ve built the largest business crowdfunding platform dedicated
exclusively to helping companies raise capital.
- IndiGoGo – As the largest global fundraising site, we help individuals, businesses, and non-profits raise money online.
Now that the pipeline is full and your client base is growing, the workload is also more consistent and requires full-time staff. Leverage these to recruit top talent.
- ZipRecruiter – As your qualified candidates roll in, we make it easy to screen & rate them, allowing you to make the best hiring decisions for your business.
- JobVite – Hiring a coveted candidate is like winning a new customer. You need to think like a marketer—and you’ll need the right tools, too. Unlike a traditional Applicant Tracking System, Jobvite Hire is part of a complete recruiting software platform, offering the intuitive features you need to seal the deal easily.
- Smartrecruiters – Our Talent Acquisition Platform enables enterprises to transform their recruiting into effective talent marketing and sales machines
- Trainual – Reduce ramp-up time. Increase productivity. Increase revenue.
- Square Payroll – Square Payroll imports your employees’ time cards, calculates overtime, and handles taxes so you can pay your team faster.
- Gusto – Gusto lets you pay employees and contractors, obtain workers’ comp and set up health benefits. Entirely online.
You have more employees, more projects, and more clients…that means meetings! Bring value back to the meeting with one of the following…
- Lucid Meetings – Run excellent meetings. Exceed expectations with online meetings that showcase your professionalism, engage your clients and make things happen.
- Minute.io – Have you ever faced the situation of agreeing on decisions and task assignments in a meeting and it takes days before the minutes are written and sent to everyone—if they ever are? minutes.io allows you to use your browser, offline, to create elegant minutes and in a simple manner. You don’t need to sign up. And it’s free!
- Less Meetings – It can be difficult keeping track everything you have to do, let alone the people you work with. Set agendas and simplify meeting minutes for an average of 18% less time spent in meetings. Real-time collaboration and keyboard shortcuts allow your team to instantly capture and share important meeting minutes, actions, and decisions.
- Meetin.gs – The service keeps everyone up-to-date and on the same page and sends beautiful meeting notifications and follow-ups. Meetin.gs integrates with your calendar, address book, and existing meeting communication tools…Lync, Skype, Salesforce, Google Apps, etc.
Yes, the productivity tools have presentation software…but we want to kick it up a notch and help you create more dynamic presentations that will impress your potential clients and intrigue employees.
- Customshow – All your company’s media right at your fingertips. Presentations, videos, logos and other collateral is on brand and in one place. Marketing can update anything in the library with the push of a button and know that every sales person will receive the new version.
- ClearSlide – Pitch, sell, and close with ClearSlide’s all-in-one suite of products that help you focus more on the end user and less on technology.
- Prezi – Be a great presenter. Step up to a whole new level of “Nailed it!” with the bold reinvention of presentation software.
Regardless of the stage your business is in or the size of your business, travel will most likely involved. Whether you are a road-warrior or occasional traveler, you need to organize everything and maximize your spending.
- MileIQ – The smart mileage tracker. Smart drive-detection captures and logs drives automatically, categorize, and report miles automatically.
- TripIt – You handle the booking. We take care of the rest. All your travel plans, in one place…Get a master itinerary for every trip.
- Shoeboxed – Turn receipts into data. Join the 1,000,000 businesses using Shoeboxed to scan & organize receipts and business cards, create expense reports, track mileage and more.
- Uber – Your ride, on demand. Reliable pick-ups, clear pricing, and cashless.
- Workfrom – Use Workfrom to discover the best coffee shops, bars, co-working spaces and other work-friendly places in cities and towns everywhere.
- GateGuru – Security wait times, flight delays, gate changes, airport maps, …it’s all here and more.
- AwardWallet – Keeps track of your reward programs such as your frequent flyer miles, hotel and credit card points.
- TPG To Go – Spend Smarter, Travel Better. “One of the coolest features is Pay with This in which the app tells you which credit card to use at every place so that you’ll earn the most points”
With so many great apps (more popping up every day) we couldn’t organize everything into the buckets above. A few may have been a stretch for the respective bucket as is. Below are some very cool tools that we simply didn’t have a spot for, but feel they can provide some value to you and your business.
- Riffle by Crowdriff – Free Chrome plug-in. Get Twitter engagement, interest and activity analytics in real time to make interactions more personal and more meaningful.
- f.lux – makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.
- Every Time Zone – Bookmark it…Never warp your brain with time zone math again!
- Poll Everywhere – Live audience participation. Poll Everywhere lets you engage your audience or class in real time.
- Opinion Stage – Opinion Stage is a powerful & easy-to-use engagement toolbox (polls, surveys, quizzes & more) for publishers and brands. Publishers use Opinion Stage to boost engagement, generate revenue, drive traffic and discover insights.
- Postagram – Send your photos as real postcards. Get the Postagram app on your iPhone or Android device to send your photos around the world.
- Wistia – Professional video hosting with analytics and video marketing tools.
- Attendify – A private social network for your event! Leverage the power of a private networking app built just for your event. Boost attendee engagement with profiles, photo sharing, messaging, polls and more.
- CoverItLive – Real-Time engagement solution…Design and produce live, highly interactive social experiences on your own site.
- UberConference – Conferencing is a pain. We’re the stress-free conference call.Never need a PIN. Never ask “who joined” or “who said that?” Share your screen, view social profiles, mobile apps, an pick your hold music!
As long as the above list might be, this space is constantly evolving. Even as we write this, there are great firms publishing new apps and tools. Every few months, we will revisit this post and update the list with our continued research. Check back! Also, if you have an app/tool/service that you feel should be listed, let us know!