Small businesses by their nature are always short on time and resources. Your finances are going to be tight, and most of your profits will be invested straight back into the business to help it grow.
You have a small team that is highly invested in your business and they give it their all, but sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day or enough hands on deck to get everything done. Your team might work remotely, or in a small space, and with multiple projects and a number of conflicting priorities, it’s easy for things to get overlooked or neglected.
As a small business, it’s essential to optimise your process and workloads to maximise your productivity. However, this is easier said than done, and there are hundreds of productivity software options that all promise to transform your business.
So how can you tell which ones are actually going to help you? To help answer this question, this guide takes you through the best productivity software for small business.
What is productivity software?
Productivity software is a tool that’s going to improve how your business runs by helping with organisation, collaboration, or automating repetitive tasks. It’s software that’s designed to save business’ time and work more efficiently to get more done without spending a lot of money on additional staff. These tools include anything from to-do lists, project management, and communication, to more specific tools that can help you to optimise your sales and marketing.
How will productivity software help your small business?
Small businesses need to be focused on using productivity software and tools that are going to make a real difference. With the right software your team will be able to automate repetitive processes and reduce time-consuming admin. It’ll allow them to work more efficiently and give them more time to focus on the important tasks that can’t be automated.
When you’re deciding what productivity software is going to be suitable for your small business you need to consider your existing setup, skills, and any areas where things get held up or neglected.
Productivity software for task management
Workiro is a lifesaver when it comes to productivity and can be your hub for keeping track of tasks, team members, visualising project progress and sharing files securely, both internally and externally. It’s one of the best tools for increasing productivity in small businesses because it simplifies team task management and ensures that everyone is always clear about exactly what they need to be working on.
It’s easy to break down large projects, goals, and workloads into the individual tasks required. You can then set task deadlines, and assign them to a team member who will get automated reminders until it’s completed. Workiro also allows you to share files securely and collaborate effectively with internal and external contributors (they don’t even have to sign up to access conversations and files).
As a small business it’s important that everyone is working efficiently but you can’t afford to spend too much of your time checking up on everyone’s progress. By making it clear exactly what each person needs to be doing, you’ll minimise wasted time and maximise your productivity.
Workiro also integrates with lots of other productivity software and business tools (including all the ones listed in this guide) that you might already be using so it means it can easily fit in with — and enhance — your existing workflow.
See Pricing for up to date information.
Trello is a project management system that can be used to improve productivity in a whole range of different ways. You can create boards and then add cards to each board that can be placed into different columns — this could be to indicate their status, their category, or a team members to-do list. Each card can be assigned to individuals, include comments, documents, and checklists, plus you can set deadlines.
And when integrated with Workiro, tasks and actions can be automatically added to someone's to do list and they’ll get reminders from Workiro until it’s completed so not even the smallest things get forgotten about.
It’s useful to create separate boards for different projects or aspects of your business. For example, you could set up a board for marketing that has columns for your different marketing channels, upcoming events and important dates, brand guidelines and other important documents, and useful resources, so that everything you need to keep track of your marketing is in one place. Trello could also be used as content or editorial calendar, for event planning, or product development.
Trello’s free plan allows you to create an unlimited number of personal boards, and up to 10 team boards, which should be enough for small businesses.
Best productivity software for communication and collaboration
The starting place for improving productivity is ensuring that you are using the best small business software and tools to communicate and collaborate effectively across your team.
While email is a useful tool for more formal or external communications, when you’re working in a small team it’s good to have a more instantaneous way of discussing work. Email conversations can quickly get out of hand, but an instant messaging tool like Slack allows you to send messages in real-time.
Conversations can be separated into channels, so you can keep the company, team, project, and individual communications organised. All of your conversations are also searchable, so you don’t have to scroll through endless messages to find something important.
Plus it’s a good way to quickly share images and files, and it integrates with lots of other tools such as GetBusy so you can create tasks directly from your conversations and make sure nothing gets overlooked or forgotten about.
Slack’s free plan is perfect for small teams and gives you access to your 10,000 most recent messages. For full access to your business’s message history, you do have to upgrade to the Standard plan for £5.25 per month.
If you’re already set up with Microsoft 365 then Microsoft Teams is an ideal tool for instant messaging, arranging meetings, and video calls. You can also store and share Word documents, Excel files, and Powerpoint presentations so that everyone can access and edit them from anywhere.
Easy access to files and straightforward communication is essential to taking your small business’s productivity to the next level. You don’t want to waste time trying to get everyone looking at the same version of a document, or locating an old file stored on someone's computer.
To use Microsoft Teams for instant messaging only is completely free. To access additional functionality you need to use it as part of Microsoft 365, prices start from £3.80 per month per user plus VAT.
Another great setup for teamwork and collaboration is Google’s collection of apps, G Suite. It includes one of the most popular email clients, Gmail, plus access to shared file storage, a calendar, note-keeping tool, and video calls.
With Google Drive, you can create and share documents and spreadsheets that can be worked on by multiple users in real time, which makes it great for collaborating across a small team. The Calendar tool also allows you to set up multiple calendars so you can have one for your overall company to show holidays, events, and meetings, as well as separate calendars for specific groups, and individuals.
By having all your key business tools in one system that work seamlessly with each other, it allows you to streamline the admin side of your small business and increase productivity. G Suite also integrates with GetBusy so any tasks highlighted in emails or meetings can be set up as a new task to be completed.
Prices for G Suite start at £4.14 per month per user for new customers, which includes 30GB cloud storage.
Dropbox is one of the simplest but most effective productivity essentials for small businesses. It makes it quick and easy to securely share large or multiple files with anyone, anywhere. You can just upload the files and share the link with team members or even clients and customers, files and folders can be password protected as well.
While it’s function is straightforward, it’s surprising the amount of time that is wasted sharing files back and forth via email, so uploading them to one easily accessible location is going to increase your team's productivity.
Dropbox’s cheapest plan costs £10 per month per user for a minimum of three users.
Time tracking productivity software
Time tracking is an important part of improving productivity in small businesses. It gives you a clear idea of what everyone is working on, how long things typically take, and areas that are taking up too much of your team’s time. It can also help you to stay focused and avoid wasting time on distractions.
Toggl offers time tracking productivity software that allows you to monitor and report on how long each task takes throughout the day. You can install it as an extension on your web browser and set times for the whole day to keep on track and meet deadlines.
Toggl is free for up to 5 users with all the features that a small business will need.
The key to increasing your productivity as a small business is using the right software that can streamline your processes and keep your team focused and working efficiently.
The most effective productivity software will work together with the other tools you’re using in your business. Workiro is a straightforward, essential piece of productivity software that seamlessly integrates with thousands of different tools and apps.
Find out how Workiro will benefit your team and increase your small business’s productivity by signing up for a short demo.