Every day, new software pops up that blows our minds. There are countless cool apps and software companies changing how we live, communicate and get things done. From knowing who’s at the door with Ring or ordering food with Favor, technology pushes us further and faster.
For small teams and startups, there’s a variety of tools that transform an idea into the next groundbreaking company. Tesla, Facebook, and Instagram all started somewhere, right? Because there are so many amazing tools out there, it’s important to consider which are the most impactful, but also affordable – especially if you’re a smaller team or a startup.
Beginning with the obvious, Slack is the universal email killer. While there are a lot of great chat tools, Slack has become the ubiquitous go-to for team chat thanks to its privacy, file-sharing capabilities, and ability to plug in about a bazillion other apps including JIRA and Google files. Slack works well with collaborative teams because it allows for “rooms” based on projects, or one on one chats. Plus, you can send gifs, and everyone loves getting those.
For marketing teams, Canva is a low-cost plug and play tool that makes creating posters and graphics simple. Canva works great because everything is drag and drop, but also it’s free to use with graphics only costing $1 each. Creating a last-minute campaign or a timely web banner has never been easier.
MailChimp is an easy way to create and curate email lists for customer interactions. MailChimp takes out all of the work and offers ready-made or custom newsletter templates, allowing teams to drop in their information and ship it off to their lists.
When it comes to keeping track of invoices, PayPal has an easy to use system – if you’re working solo. If you’re a part of a team, Freshbooks features a much more nuanced ability to parse billing down to hours spent, client type and various other tax aspects. Put against other accounting tools, Freshbooks stands on its own because of simplicity and ease of use, which for most small teams, they aren’t looking to get in the financial weeds, but keep the doors open. Freshbooks is an easy way to keep track of accounts payable before growing enough to afford someone in charge of the money.
If the team is a little bigger and expense reports are the norm, there’s an easy way to keep track: snap a photo and forget it. Meet Expensify. Just grab a picture of that business lunch with the app, and you’re done. Everything you upload is tallied up and sent directly to the boss for approvals. After a long business trip, Expensify is a game changer.
If you need to collaborate with a variety of people, there are two options that define ease of use: Confluence or Google Docs. Google Docs is a stable platform because it allows for easy-peasy collaboration between anyone, regardless of who they work for or where they’re at. With simple inline commenting and link sharing, teams around the globe can jump on a project with one another in seconds.
With Confluence, collaborating is just a little different. Instead of a simple link share, Confluence is a team ecosystem that allows for discussion at the bottom of the document, past revision authority, as well as being extremely easy to use. The big difference between the two is easy: Google Docs is a free, primary application that gets the job done if you’re working on a document that won’t require more than inline comments. Confluence is a much more in-depth, detail-oriented tool that’s behind the firewall and set up directly for a team’s needs.
If you’re a constant note-taker and need to access ideas and thoughts on the fly, Evernote is tried and true. It’s a simple enough idea: scribble down a quick idea onto your phone and expand on it when you sit down at your computer. It seems simple enough but coupled with some of Evernote’s internal sharing capabilities; there’s a lot to like with the senior citizen of the app world.
Competing for the coveted role of “easiest to use website” is big business. Wix and Joomla go back and forth with trying to improve their platforms, but no one comes remotely close to the king of website hosting and platform: WordPress. Just about most websites and blogs are variations on WordPress templates and for a good reason: WordPress is intuitive and affordable. Most people can figure the language and backend out in a day or so. And because it’s so cheap, teams can put together a great looking site for well under $200 and a day’s worth of elbow grease.
Instead of putting clients and potential employees through paperwork hell, an easy way to move signing any documents is by adopting DocuSign. Once someone’s loaded their information into DocuSign once, the account is verified and works everywhere, thus saving them time.
If you’re a team that’s struggling with productivity, adopting agile methodology will change the game around the office. Initially implemented as a way for software teams to get work done by establishing smaller goals and marking their weekly successes instead of relying on just the big project rocks, agile celebrate a week’s worth of work, even if it’s the mundane smaller stuff. Born from this methodology came kanban boards, and with kanban, team members move their work along a path signaling work that’s done via three tracks:
- To do
- In Progress
Trello is a free tool that helps teams track their work, but also view analytics in regards to how much work is getting done. If the boss wants to see more tasks managed and how they’re moving out of the door on a weekly basis, Trello does just that. Plus, it’s nice to see the work stack up over time, painting a picture of what the team can accomplish.
If you’re thinking about joining a startup, Github is as essential as it gets. Used as a repository, Github offers version control, branching and merging code into one or many places, just depending on what your needs are. Github crushes because it keeps track of the often messy versioning of overwrites and misplaced updates. Another tool to consider is Pingdom to keep track of downtime and performance monitoring, as well as gain insights into what actual users are doing and more importantly, what they’re trying to do.
There are a lot of social media sharing tools that work across platforms. HootSuite seems to be the most reliable, but also malleable, too. Most Fortune 1000 companies trust Hootsuite and for a good reason: it’s rock solid. Because of simplicity in scheduling and the ability to monitor analytics, the marketing team will know who are reacting to what and what your audience is sharing.
We’d be remiss to not mention Salesforce, the world’s leading CRM. Salesforce is as mainstream as a Justin Bieber record at this point, but for sales teams, it’s mandatory. While other teams will try to adopt other CRM tools to nurture leads and develop new business, Salesforce somehow creeps back into the conversation because of its market dominance. If you’re trying to nail down a stronger sales plan, Salesforce is the way to go. No question.
That’s all for now. If we can think of more, we’ll do a follow-up. What about your team? Is there a SaaS tool that blows your mind? Let us know. We’re always on the hunt for the next incredible way to save five minutes.