The Definitive List of Small Business Resources and Tools
in Small Business Tools on May 18, 2020
Let’s face it. Owning and managing a small business is hard work. In most cases, it takes way more time and mental energy than working a 9-to-5 corporate job—you still decided that life wasn’t for you. We don’t blame you! But with running a small business, comes tremendous personal sacrifice. That’s why we’ve curated a list of 100 resources and online tools in 15 different categories—to help you save time, break less sweat, and take your business to the next level.
Business Mentoring & Assistance
SBA Local Assistance Finder: Running and growing a small business can be tough and time consuming. Sometimes, you just need a little help. The Small Business Administration’s local assistance finder helps you locate a Small Business Development Center near you. They have business advisors and resources to help you as well as events to network with others like you.
SCORE: SCORE started in 1964, so they’ve been helping business for over 50 years. You can connect with a business mentor who will help you navigate the complexities of running a small business. They’ve been in your shoes before. Additionally, you can browse helpful articles, videos, webinars, podcasts, infographics, and more.
JumpStart Business Assistance: JumpStart’s business assistants specialize in areas like sales and marketing, market research, investor readiness, and growth planning. Apply for assistance or download their entrepreneur’s toolkit with worksheets for financial projections, investor pitches, customer discovery, and more.
Website & Marketing
WordPress: 36% of the world’s websites are built on WordPress. It’s powerful, flexible, and affordable. Start from a theme, use a page builder plugin, or have it built completely custom. And because so many people use it, there’s no shortage of online resources to help you set up a website, manage it, or use it to market your business.
Wix: If you’re starting small and want to set up a website quickly, but have no web development skills, Wix is for you. It’s a drag ‘n drop website builder that makes your business’ website look beautiful. Wix gives you complete freedom and is very cost-effective. Setting up an informative or eCommerce website on Wix is a breeze, even for beginners.
Squarespace: We can’t mention Wix without also mentioning Squarespace. Of the two, Squarespace is more for the experienced creative. For a truly professional looking website, this is the way to go. Squarespace makes it easy to sell your products and services, too, with their built-in eCommerce functionality.
MailChimp: In the 21st century, every business needs email marketing, and MailChimp is one of the most cost-effective ways to do it. What started out as a platform for email blasts has quickly grown into a fairly robust marketing tool, with landing pages, ad design, marketing automation, and some cool behavioral targeting and segmentation.
Kartra: We’re a little biased about Kartra. We use it for our own marketing. It’s a TRUE all-in-one marketing platform, including pages, optin forms, email marketing, advanced automated campaigns, eCommerce, membership sites, video hosting, helpdesk, and more. It’s all interconnected which makes setup and management simple.
ClickFunnels: ClickFunnels is the first of its kind – if you want to make your business work for you while you sleep, ClickFunnels’ sales funnels are just what you need. Setup pages that convert your website traffic into paying customers with advanced tools like pop-ups, upsell and downsell offers, automated emails, membership areas, and more.
UberSuggest: Search engine optimization is dependent on your website content, and your website content is made up of words. UberSuggest is one of the best tools for finding what search terms provide the best opportunity and return on investment for you to write about. It shows you how many people search for terms, how competitive they are, how much you’d have to pay to show ads for them, and more.
Google Ads: There’s not a single business that wouldn’t benefit from Google Ads. The best part is that you control the cost, and you know exactly what’s working and what’s not. You can target people when they search for terms related to your business or show ads to your target audience on the websites they’re already browsing. If you haven’t given this any thought yet, now’s the time.
Google Analytics: Have you ever wondered how much website traffic you get? Where do your visitors come from? What pages do they look at, and for how long? Google Analytics makes these questions (and hundreds more) easy to answer. And better yet – these (free) insights help you to make decisions about what to change on your website to get more leads and customers.
Google Search Console: This is similar to Google Analytics, except provides you data specifically about the traffic to your website from Google. From technical website cleanup to determining how high each of your pages ranks in search results, Google Search Console is a great free tool to make improvements in your presence on Google.
Google My Business: If you don’t already have a Google My Business account (also known as a Google Maps listing) and you have a physical location for your business, you need to create one NOW. This is absolutely essential for your customers to find you, leave reviews, and it’s also a great traffic source for your website.
OptinMonster: Everyone says they hate pop-ups, but people do click on them. OptinMonster is a platform that helps you create pop-ups to turn your abandoning website visitors into subscribers. With dozens of templates and resources to help you, your website will be a lead-generating machine. It even integrates with many marketing and CRM tools, so your leads come straight to you.
Canva: If you’re a professional graphic designer reading this, just look away for a minute. We know this isn’t for you. Canva is a great entry point for a small business looking to create some nice-looking print and digital materials from templates. They have a solid free plan to start with, or upgrade for some additional features and inspiration.
Pixlr: Pixlr is the next generation photo editor, with powerful features in a simple-to-use platform. With AI and machine-learning intertwined, it learns your editing habits and makes you that much quicker. If you’re always on the go, they have a mobile app as well. It’s all built to make your photos beautiful in less time.
Envato Elements: Even the most creative people need inspiration and digital assets to start with. Envato Elements has over 2 million assets for graphic design and video editing, including fonts, stock photos and videos, graphics packages, and audio files. One subscription grants you access to all of it.
Adobe Creative Cloud: The ultimate suite of products for the professional creative. It includes Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat, Premier Pro, and XD, which can be used to design literally anything, print or digital, with best-in-class professional quality. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anything like Adobe’s suite of products.
InDesign Secrets: For those that already have Adobe InDesign, this website may be news to you. It’s main goal is to help you become an InDesign master, and does so by offering templates, resources, tips and tricks and articles and videos, and it has a forum where you can learn from other top designers.
Hootsuite: Perhaps the most popular of all social media management tools, Hootsuite does it all. Scheduling, monitoring, content curation, analytics, and even content promotion, all from one place, and posted to any social media platform. It’s quite pricey if you want to have more than one user, though.
Buffer: As Hootsuite’s biggest nemesis, Buffer also boasts many of the same great features for a slightly lower cost. It has a few advantages, including greater control of manual and automated posting schedules. If you’re not wanting to do social media ads through this platform or manage YouTube, Buffer is probably the way to go.
ContentCal: This is similar to Buffer and Hootsuite, but is built on two big strengths – a content calendar and team collaboration. Easily create and visualize a full week or month of social posts, and let ContentCal automate the posting. Collaborate with team members for each post and share ideas to keep the calendar filled.
AgoraPulse: Similar to Buffer and Hootsuite as a robust all-in-one social media management platform, but it also includes some great tools for experienced digital marketers like competitive analysis, UTM tracking parameters, and an ROI calculator..
Post Planner: PostPlanner is a good starter tool for small businesses wanting to get their feet wet on social media. It provides basic post scheduling tools and you’ll have quick access to the best performing posts across all channels, so you can post related content or re-share.
Sales & Customer Service
Keap (formerly Infusionsoft): Keap is a CRM and marketing automation tool bundled together. Their 3 separate plans are built for small businesses in different growth phases. Manage contacts and clients, do email marketing, track and convert website visitors, automate marketing campaigns, build landing pages, and even set up an online store.
Pipedrive: Pipedrive is a beautifully designed CRM and sales pipeline management tool. It has everything you need to move prospects from lead to customer, tracking every interaction, automating repetitive administrative tasks, and giving you reports with insights to help you improve your sales and customer service efforts.
Hubspot: While the full suite of HubSpot sales and marketing features is typically too expensive for small businesses, they have a free CRM that is a great starting point. Manage contacts and companies, get started with basic email marketing, create website forms, manage your sales pipeline and the tasks involved, keep track of all your meetings and scheduled calls, and more.
FreshDesk: For any business that wants to offer support to their clients online, FreshDesk is a great start. Accept email tickets, create a knowledge base, setup automated responses, take tickets over social media, and more. They also have a great free plan which may satisfy all your needs.
Zendesk: Very similar to FreshDesk, Zendesk is an all-in-one customer interaction and support tool. Manage customer interactions over social media, on the website, and through calls or emails, all in Zendesk. It’s also extremely scalable if your company grows as much as you want it to.
LiveChatInc.: Another customer support tool, LiveChat Inc really thrives on it’s … live chat. Setup a live chat bubble on your website so your customers can reach you, or have automated responses ready from a bot. Manage an email ticketing system and always improve your service with agent ratings and post-chat surveys.
Slack: The most well-known team internal communication tool, Slack is built for teams that want to work quickly and effectively together. Break out of the email inbox slump, and set up different communication channels where teams can communicate on separate projects, issues, or anything else important to your business.
Google Meet: Also known as Google Hangouts, this is the easiest tool to add to your repertoire if you’re already using Gmail and Google Calendar. It’s a simple video conferencing tool that allows you to add a meeting to your existing calendar events, or start a meeting with the click of a button and invite team members, prospects, or clients.
Skype: Probably the most well-known video communication tool, Skype is another must-have. It also has messaging and calling features (including international) that may appease some small businesses. It’s a Microsoft product, so chances are, you may already have access and don’t know it.
Zoom: The modern video conferencing tool for business. The free plan allows for unlimited meetings, and meetings can be as long as you want with two people, or up to 40 minutes if you have more than two. Even if you’re communicating with others who don’t have Zoom, they can join in their web browser or dial in on their phone.
Chanty: Chanty is much like Slack, as an internal team communication tool. If you have 10 or fewer team members, you’re in luck, because their free plan is perfect for you. Share files, voice messages, and text messages easily and manage multiple communication channels. For just a small monthly (per user) fee, upgrade to get video call tools as well.
Loom: Loom is a screen and video recording tool. You may not think you need it, but once you have it, you’ll regret why you didn’t get it sooner. The free plan allows you to record unlimited screen recordings and quickly share a link. Use it to provide feedback, make a quick tutorial, pitch to a potential client, help a customer, or send an inspirational video to your team, or anything your heart desires.
Insureon: Insureon is a quick way to compare business insurance plans online. Start with the industry you’re in and the service you provide, and off you go. It will show you which types of insurance are necessary or suggested for your business, and you can complete a short application to compare quotes from top carriers.
HealthCare.gov: If you’re ready to offer healthcare benefits to your employees, this is a great place to start. Find an agent, shop plans, check eligibility, or enroll in the SHOP plan for businesses under 50 employees.
SBA Get Business Insurance: This Small Business Administration area helps you determine the business insurance you need. It provides educational resources to help you make the right decisions about insurance and the steps you should take to buy it. They even have free business counselors who can coach you along the way.
Finder: While Finder can be used for way more than insurance, they have a section of their website dedicated to business insurance, including assessing risks, types of coverage, what it will cost, if it’s worth it or not, and how to compare policies.
CoverHound: CoverHound is another portal for comparing business insurance policies. Starting with a fairly simple application process, it gets you to comparing policies in just a few minutes. However, you have to know what types of coverage you’re after. The program makes recommendations for you, which can make the process less stressful.
Hiring & Human Resources
BambooHR: This is a robust HR platform for small (and medium) businesses. It’s packed with everything you need to manage hiring, onboarding, and managing employees, and has some really cool bonus features like peer assessments, manager reviews, a “who’s out” calendar, and even track employee satisfaction with eNPS (employee net promoter score).
Zenefits: Zenefits helps you streamline onboarding, benefits, payroll, PTO, and more in one platform. It’s an all-in-one HR platform so you can spend less time in different HR systems and spend more time leading and running your business. You can also add-on Advisory Services to your subscription to get help from HR experts.
Indeed: Indeed is the largest job site, so if you want to look in the biggest pool of potential candidates, this is a great place to post your job. You can view and sort resumes, send messages to applicants, and set up interviews all in the system. Even add screening questions or assessments to the application to test candidates’ skills.
ZipRecruiter: ZipRecruiter is one of the quickest ways to hire new employees. You can post a job and one click sends it to over 100 job sites. The software will find resumes posted by users and invite them to apply for your job if they match your ideal criteria, so you get ideal candidates to fall right in your lap.
GoodHire: GoodHire is a simple way to get a background check on a new-hire. Pay per background check, and 85% of them are returned in just one business day. It gives you a simple, easy to understand report that makes your hiring decision simpler to make.
Betterteam: While not a robust platform in and of itself, it’s a simple way to post one job ad to multiple job boards with one submission. Paid monthly, you get a monthly allotment of job postings based on a tier you choose. This is a big time saver if you’re hiring semi-frequently.
Upwork: Sometimes you just need an extra hand to handle an influx of work for your business. That’s where Upwork comes in. You can browse dozens of categories for freelancers with special talents to help you in a crunch, including design, digital marketing, web development, customer service, administrative support, and more. Create job postings and let the workers flood to you, or find a freelancer yourself.
Fiverr: Much like Upwork, Fiverr is another freelancer recruiting platform, with similar categories and pricing. The main difference is that Fiverr freelancers show you exactly the services they offer and how much they charge, so you can browse offerings and choose one that suits your needs.
Lendio: With one simple application, you can get access to and compare loans from over 75 lenders. Lendio makes it easy to choose the best loan for you and see your offers. You can even get your loan in as little as 24 hours. Get a line of credit, business credit card, help with equipment financing, a startup loan, or a term loan.
Nav: Nav has an article with the best places to get a grant for your small business, which is free money, so you’ll want to check out all these options. Additionally, Nav provides services to help you get matched to the right funding sources, whether it be credit cards, a line of credit, or loans. They also have tons of articles to help you understand all your options.
Fundera: Fundera helps you compare small business funding options you never knew you had. They are dedicated to helping small businesses grow, so their website is built to make your life easy and help you make an informed decision. Learn about types of loans, check out reviews, read helpful articles, and compare lending options after a quick application process.
SBA Lender Match: This Small Business Administration resource helps you get matched with lenders who are interested in helping your business. Fill out some details about your business, get matched within 2 days, and you’ll be in touch with one or more lenders, so you can compare options and move to the application process.
CrowdFunder: This is one funding option that many small businesses skip over, but has some big upside. If you’re still in the early stages of your business, crowdfunding is a way to get you business jumpstarted without going into debt. Find investors who are willing to kickstart your business growth journey.
Accounting & Cash Flow
FuelGauge: FuelGauge is a cash forecasting software for project-based small businesses. It’s for those freelancers and entrepreneurs who have a hard time keeping track of all their clients’ projects and managing the chaos that comes up with projects starting, stopping, pausing, or changing scope. It provides financial forecasting so you can gauge the fuel (cash) coming into your business.
FreshBooks: FreshBooks is an all-in-one accounting and invoicing software. Automations save you a ton of time and keep you focusing on running your business. Robust analytics help you make better decisions, and online payment methods make it easier for your clients and you get your money even quicker.
QuickBooks: QuickBooks is another great accounting software. They have several different plans to choose from for all types of needs. Even if you’re just a freelancer looking to track expenses, they have a plan for that. Or if you want to manage accounting and payroll for a fast-growing team, you’ll be set too.
Xero: Xero is a very affordable accounting software catered for small businesses. It’s focused on helping you keep your finger on the pulse of your business, cash flow. Their mobile app also helps you manage receipts and expenses on the go, and online invoicing and reminders make sure you get paid quickly.
WagePoint: If you’re a fast-growing small business, you may have some payroll pains. That’s where WagePoint comes in. It’s an automated online payroll software that helps you handle direct deposits, contractor payments, new hire reporting, taxes, wage reports, and more.
Gusto: Gusto is an all-in-one platform for building your team. It has tools for payroll, employee insurance, onboarding, and even time tracking, which is helpful for businesses billing based on an hourly rate. It has several other cool features, like allowing employees to get a cash advance on their paycheck for unforeseen expenses, and get direct access to certified HR experts.
Neat: Neat is a unique online bookkeeping and account reconciliation tool. Easily scan in your receipts, invoices, bills, and statements. Stream other bank or credit card transactions directly into Neat, and easily reconcile all your transactions for seamless tax preparation.
Expensify: This receipt and expense management tool makes it easy on a busy entrepreneur.. One-click scan-in receipts, and have employees paid back in 24 hours. Set up automated approval workflows so you spend less time reviewing every receipt. Integrate with your accounting software to keep everything in sync.
Productivity, Project Management, & Collaboration
Asana: A sleek and smooth project management tool, Asana helps you schedule and keep track of projects and task deadlines. You can even create automated workflows to do have the system do some of your repetitive tasks for you. It connects to all the other major tools you use, so all your work is in one place.
ClickUp: ClickUp is a very cost-effective and truly all-in-one project management, work management, and team collaboration tool. It’s very modern and flexible for any way you like to work. Keep track of tasks, team members, time spent, workload, event calendars, and more. Create docs and communicate on tasks with team members.
Trello: Another work management tool, Trello is similar to ClickUp and Asana, except that it excels at making organization simpler and prettier. If you like viewing and collaborating on work in KanBan or bucket style, Trello would be good for you.
Evernote: Evernote is a notetaking platform on steroids. Easily take notes as text, voice, pictures, or drawings, and organize your notes however you want. Collaborate on notes with team members and immediately turn them into to-do lists or projects.
G Suite: If you’re not already using G Suite products like Google Drive, Calendar, Docs, or Sheets, you might be living under a rock. Otherwise, I’ve just introduced you to your new best friends. Anything and everything Google-related is easily accessible, simple to use, syncs with everything else you use, keeps you working productively, and helps you collaborate with others.
Podio: This is a work management tool that allows you to collaborate better with your team and use automated workflows to make your business more efficient and productive. Podio can be used for project management, file storage, social collaboration, and even doubles as a simple CRM to keep track of and manage tasks associated with your leads and customers.
Airtable: Airtable is a tough product to categorize, because it is so flexible and diverse. Essentially it is used to organize literally any type of information, and keeps it in a database. Seamlessly collaborate with others on spreadsheets used for project management, event planning, customer relationships, forms, creative ideas, and much, much more.
Microsoft To Do: If you’re a part of a team using a project management tool, then this isn’t for you. But if you’re on a small team or freelancing it, Microsoft To Do is a simple tool for helping you stay on task and keep track of everything you need to do in a day, and set reminders for yourself. It’s nothing fancy, but a free tool for the oft-distracted creative type.
Todoist: Another to-do list and task management tool, Todoist helps you stay organized and on track. Quickly add to-do lists and color code and categorize tasks to your liking. Even set up recurring tasks so you’re always on top of it. If you have a small team, they have a business version that helps with assigning to-do list tasks to others and keeping everyone on track.
Toggl: For businesses billing based on hours, a time-tracking tool like Toggl is essential. Toggl integrates with over 100 other tools. It allows you to enter hourly rates so you make sure you get paid fairly, and has some cool features for the stubborn team members, like one-click time tracking on calendar events, and time tracking reminders.
TSheets: Another time-tracking tool, except this one was created by QuickBooks and is used for hourly employees to clock in and out. It makes payroll, invoicing, and scheduling a breeze. Time can also be tracked against tasks and projects to make reporting simple and billing for your work easy.
DropBox: Easy to use file storage, DropBox helps your business keep all their files organized, and makes them easy to share. DropBox is commonly included as a native integration with all the other tools your business uses, so you’ll have easy access to your files whenever you need them.
LastPass: If you’re using spreadsheets or notes to keep track of passwords, you’re doing it wrong. LastPass hooks into your web browser and saves your passwords for all your websites. Easily populate sign in forms with your passwords with just a click or two. Share important passwords with team members so anyone can access, wherever they go.
Pocket: This is a very simple, but very helpful tool for the fast-moving entrepreneur. It’s an easy way to save all those articles, videos, and important pages you’ve been saving for inspiration, in your digital pocket. It’s better than bookmarking because you can access it across all devices and even save things straight from other apps you use, and easily share with others.
Professional Development and e-Learning
Coursera: Stay ahead of the competition with courses, certificates, and degrees in the latest skills and technologies. If you feel like you’re lagging behind, Coursera helps you find courses that will get you back on track, and give you the extra knowledge needed to take your business up another level.
Udacity: Udacity has online courses for the latest skills like data science, artificial intelligence, and programming. If you really want to be a head above the rest, Udacity can help you be a thought leader in your field. When browsing courses, it shows you how much time each course will take, both in hour commitment per week, and total weeks or months to complete.
edX: edX has thousands of online courses with professional certifications, and many of them are self-paced—perfect for the busy entrepreneur. EdX has courses in just about every field known to man, and many of which are free.
LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda): LinkedIn Learning features online video courses from LinkedIn’s own community experts. One subscription gets you access to hundreds of courses in your field alone. Wanting to learn the latest skill in graphic design, photography, video production, or digital marketing? LinkedIn learning would be perfect for you.
Docracy: If you just need something to reference to create your legal documents, check out docracy. It’s completely free, and you can browse dozens of categories and thousands of public legal documents to help you.
DocuSign: If your business frequently requires signatures, you should consider a DocuSign subscription. Take completely electronic signatures for all your documents. It’s not only a huge time saver for you, but it’s very convenient for your clients and employees as well.
LegalZoom: LegalZoom provides legal advice services. If you are moving from a freelancer to an official business or want to trademark a creative asset, you’ll need some legal advice. They use upfront, flat free pricing, so you know exactly what you’re getting and for how much.
Trademarkia: A simple site for searching millions of filed trademarks. If you have a name or logo to trademark or a product to patent, you can easily verify you’re in the clear and then begin the registration process. Even incorporate your business.
LinkedIn: For obvious reasons, LinkedIn is a good virtual networking tool. Connect with clients and colleagues, participate in forums, comment on and share others’ posts, and even use it to find other businesses like yours so you can learn from them.
Your Local Chamber of Commerce: Joining your local chamber of commerce has many benefits aside from networking, like access to investors and advertising opportunities, but they’re really helpful for networking with other top businesses and professionals right in your area. Events can help you learn new ideas and skills, meet potential clients or lenders, or simply build awareness for your business.
Meetup: Meetup is an online tool to help you meet up with groups of people near you around a specific activity. Of course there’s a small business section, so you can join a group of small businesses in your area and meet them to bounce ideas, learn from each others’ successes and mistakes, or even meet potential clients.
BNI: BNI is the world’s leading referral organization, with nearly 10,000 chapters around the world. Through weekly meetings and exclusive resources, you’ll build a network of relationships that help you grow your business through referrals. Give referrals and get referrals is the name of the game.
Entrepreneur’s Organization: If you are the entrepreneur in your business, you should consider joining the Entrepreneur’s Organization. By joining a local chapter, you’ll have access to events both locally, regionally, and globally that connect you with other entrepreneurs for social or learning events. Their mission is to transform the lives of those who transform the world.
Smart Hustle: Smart Hustle’s website has plenty of articles and videos to help you start, run, or grow your business, but the main value of Smart Hustle is in the free membership. It grants you access to a private Facebook group of other hungry entrepreneurs like you, discounts for conferences and events, and you can even access the membership directory and promote your business.
Thought Leadership – Blogs, Newsletters, & Resources
StartUp Nation: This website has thousands of resources to help you start a business, manage your business, or grow your business. It has everything from short articles and podcasts to videos, eBooks, and even quick links to helpful business services. Subscribing to their newsletter is a simple but very rewarding task.
Harvard Business Review: HBR is another great online resource for keeping up with the latest news in business, including trends, skills to know, and important happenings. Subscribe to their online magazine, or listen to podcasts, watch videos, or read articles from experts that want to help small businesses like yours.
Foundr: Foundr has the blog, podcasts, courses, and magazines you need to grow your business successfully. A majority of the content is created by or features world-class entrepreneurs, so you’re learning from the best of the best. Take their advice to help you grow smarter and faster.
Fast Company: You can’t make a list of business magazines without naming Fast Company. You can subscribe to their print or online magazine or indulge in their email newsletter, articles, and podcasts, all catered for progressive business owners who want to stay innovative, creative, and shape the future of business.
Think with Google: This is Google’s newsletter with insights, ideas, and inspiration. They share the latest trends in digital marketing, business success stories, and videos from other brands doing innovative things. It can spark ideas for your own business or give you inspiration for new things to try to reach more people with your product or service.
Entrepreneur: Another print and digital magazine, Entrepreneur is not solely for small businesses, but if you have your sights on the stars, this subscription can help you learn from the World’s smartest business leaders in areas like leadership, growth strategies, marketing, technology, or even starting a franchise.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce: The United States Chamber of Commerce has a very nice website, with articles categorized first by starting, running, or growing your website, but also by subcategories like financing, human resources, marketing, technology, and sales. You’ll get expert advice from the country’s best and most-accomplished business leaders.