8 Helpful Online Tools to Take Your Business to the Next Level

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As the digital workforce continues to grow, more and more services and products are popping up to meet the growing demand of businesses managing remote teams. We may be specialists in content writing, but at the end of the day our clients are business owners and we love to see our clients succeed. 

We’ve personally coached dozens of businesses over the years and one thing always stood out – small business budgets don’t have room for expensive business tools. Even though many of these tools are imperative to grow a business beyond a sole proprietorship.

Rather than give you an exhaustive list of every tool out there (you’ll find many articles with lists of 50 or more), we’ve put together this focused list of eight helpful online business tools that can help boost your business to the next level and beyond

Each of the tools included below is among the best in each of their categories, and each will allow you to improve how you run your business. Even if you may not need some of these tools right now, we recommend saving this article so you can come back when you do. 

Here are our recommendations for our favorite helpful tools for your business:

  • Canva – Design Suite
  • Calendly – Calendar Management
  • FreshBooks – Accounting
  • Slack – Collaborative Team Communication
  • Semrush – Marketing SEO Tools
  • Meet Edgar – Social Media Management
  • Grammarly – Digital Writing Assistant
  • HelloSign – eSignature Software
When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission (with no additional cost to you).

Below we’ll talk about why we love these apps, identify the drawbacks, and discuss the pricing options for each. We know your time is precious, so let’s get right to it. 

Canva – Design Suite

Unless you’re a big corporation, you probably don’t have the budget to hire a professional graphic designer. Canva is one of our favorite online tools for businesses in need of design solutions.

With an easy-to-use interface, Canva makes it simple to produce custom graphics for free. Using Canva’s thousands of included templates, styles, fonts, and images you can create stunning designs for your business.

Whether you need marketing flyers, social media banners, or professional documents like letterhead, reports, and presentations, Canva has you covered.

What We Love About Canva

  • Easy to create even without a background in design
  • Millions of professional graphics, photos, music, videos, gifs, and animation
  • Unlimited downloads of high-quality stock photos
  • Brand kits allow you to save brand colors, fonts, logos, etc
  • Magic resize feature resizes images perfectly to fit custom dimensions (e.g. social media platforms)
  • Easily create online and offline marketing materials
  • Easy-to-use downloading and sharing options available in a variety of file formats
  • Cloud storage for files and uploaded images
  • Team collaboration
  • Free version and free trial for Pro version

Are There Any Drawbacks?

  • Customer support could be better
  • Storage limitations for the free version
  • Not ideal for heavy-duty design work

How Much Does Canva Cost?

Canva is a completely free online design and publishing platform that makes creating visuals easier. For small business owners, influencers, and bloggers who don’t have graphic design experience, the free version of Canva may just be the perfect match.

If your business needs even more features, you can upgrade to Canva Pro. Upgrading to Canva Pro allows you to create, schedule, and publish social media content, and tons more. 

Do you want to learn more about Canva Pro’s features? Check out this post where we break down the reasons you should upgrade to Canva Pro.

Calendly – Calendar Management

As a small business owner, the last thing your day needs is a ton of back and forth emails with the sole purpose of scheduling a meeting. What it could benefit from, however, is a way to professionally and efficiently manage your calendar.

Calendly is a great app that aims to make scheduling your busy work life a little simpler. It’s a good choice for users who need to manage a variety of complex appointments with multiple people or for anyone who wants to save time on repeating tasks.

What sets Calendly apart from other calendar apps is that although it seems to be designed with large organizations in mind, it offers a wide range of options and features suitable to help even small businesses succeed.

What We Love About Calendly

  • Simple to use
  • Create different calendars for different people and different events
  • Team option lets you connect calendars and save time
  • Easily schedule webinars or workshops with large audiences
  • Customize schedule blocking for seamless appointments
  • Can be embedded into your website for ease of client use
  • Integrates with other popular calendar APIs (Google, Outlook, etc)
  • Cross-platform capabilities (Zoom, Salesforce, Slack, etc)
  • Customer support – Email/ Help Desk, Chat, FAQs/ Forum, Knowledge Base
  • API and Zapier support
  • Online training options
  • Free version and free trial for subscription plans

Are There Any Drawbacks?

  • No desktop version
  • Interface can be unresponsive at times on some systems
  • May not be compatible with older versions of Outlook

How Much Does Calendly Cost?

Depending on your individual needs, Calendly offers multiple subscription tiers, including a free basic plan. 

Plans for larger organizations are available depending on the firm size and include advanced functionality, specific use cases, and collaboration between internal teams. For many smaller businesses, the basic plan includes enough features to sufficiently meet their needs. 

Calendly provides the flexibility to automate, integrate, and optimize your organization’s scheduling whether you opt for the free plan or invest in the subscription.

FreshBooks – Accounting

If you’re like most small business owners, you probably dread the accounting aspects of your business. You’re also likely aware of how important it is to keep accurate financial records.

Luckily, FreshBooks makes tracking and organizing expenses, accepting credit card payments, and invoicing clients easy to do from anywhere. FreshBooks is a cloud-based, all-in-one accounting software ideal for freelancers, independent contractors, and small businesses. 

When compared to other accounting software marketed to small businesses, FreshBooks’ customizable invoicing options can’t be beaten. Additionally, FreshBooks does not place limits on the number of invoices you can send on their lower-tier plans.

What We Love About Freshbooks

  • Unlimited invoicing
  • Customizable cloud-based invoicing features
  • Time tracking and mileage tracking on all plans
  • Expense tracking is made easier by simply snapping a photo of receipts
  • Easy to use for small businesses and freelancers
  • Supports seamless project collaboration
  • Generate robust financial reports to simplify the taxation process
  • Easily integrates with Taxfyle
  • Mobile app makes working from anywhere feasible
  • Varied pricing tiers for small and large organizations
  • Superior customer support via phone and email
  • Free trial for subscription plans

Are There Any Drawbacks?

  • No free version
  • Lower tiers have limits on the number of users and billable clients
  • Does not estimate quarterly tax payments

How Much Does Freshbooks Cost?

FreshBooks online accounting offers four pricing tiers and frequently offers discounts for new customers. The premium plan comes with unlimited billable clients and invoices, as well as the ability to track project profitability.

The lower tier plans (Lite and Plus) limit the number of billable clients your business can have, which may not be an issue if your business is very small. Fortunately, these tiers still come with unlimited and customized invoicing.

For organizations with more complex needs, FreshBooks has a Select plan that offers specialized features and customization specific to your needs. FreshBooks offers top-notch accounting solutions with well-rated customer support that won’t break the budget.

Slack – Collaborative Team Communication

When it comes to sharing documents along with conversation, email becomes cumbersome.  Slack is a great instant messaging tool that supplements the use of email for workplace communication and team collaboration.

Slack makes it easy to get quick responses in real-time between two individuals or entire departments. This is an especially useful tool for teams that work remotely or work in different locations.

No matter what size your organization is, Slack can help keep all the important parties on a project in the loop – this includes clients, contractors, other guests, and, of course, your employees.

What We Love About Slack

  • User-friendly interface
  • Easily integrates with over 2,000 apps
  • Great tool for remote teams
  • Real-time chats, messaging, and collaboration with teams
  • Voice and video calls with share screen option
  • Makes document sharing much easier
  • Searchable history allows new hires to get caught up on previous conversations
  • Set working hours and avoid notifications after hours
  • Create custom channels (public or private) to manage teams, departments, and projects
  • Data security within the platform
  • Desktop and mobile apps
  • Free version and paid plans

Are There Any Drawbacks?

  • Cannot manage multiple businesses in one account
  • Notification volume can be distracting during the workday
  • Not ideal for big-picture discussions

How Much Does Slack Cost?

Slack is completely free to use by everyone, including small teams. Some limitations of the free version that should be noted are: search is only available for the most recent 10,000 messages, guests (i.e. clients) cannot be invited into channels, and third-party app integration is limited.

If you’d like to work without the above restrictions, Slack also has paid plans which offer greater controls and more robust features for larger organizations. The subscription plans also come with added security and increased file storage.

Semrush – Marketing SEO Tools

Semrush is an SEO tool that helps you optimize your website for search engines. This SaaS platform improves your online visibility by providing tools for search, content, social media, and market research.

With data from over 140 countries and the ability to seamlessly integrate with Google and other task management platforms, it’s no surprise that Semrush is one of the most popular SEO tools available today.

Semrush started out helping businesses improve their organic rankings and search results. It continues to grow and add new features to its software to stay relevant and keep up with the ever-expanding world of digital marketing. Of course, you may not use or need every tool included right now, but as your business grows these features become more attractive.

What We Love About Semrush

  • Accurate analysis and position tracking of social media effectiveness
  • Monitor and manage organic business rankings
  • Create simplified, custom reports
  • Extensive keyword research
  • Customized and detailed analysis of domains and backlinks
  • Easily perform advanced SEO tasks
  • Obtain key data about competitors’ SEO strategies
  • Generate site audits to identify critical issues
  • Produce compelling, high-quality Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns
  • Multi-domain support and integration with web analytics tools
  • Various pricing plans

Are There Any Drawbacks?

  • No free version
  • Pricey investment compared to other SaaS apps
  • Steep learning curve

How Much Does SEMrush Cost?

Semrush does not offer a free version of its software and the monthly cost may feel like a lot if you’re leading a small business with a few employees. If you’re at the helm of a fast-growing firm or the head of marketing in a large organization, however, the investment is worth it. 

What you’re gaining access to via the monthly subscription is not simply the functionality of the app, but also a very large amount of data. Data that includes quite a lot of competitor intelligence.

There are three different pricing plans with varying upper limits on the number of projects you can manage and the number of keywords to track daily. If you’re serious about digital marketing, Semrush is a must-have SEO management tool.

Meet Edgar – Social Media Management

MeetEdgar strives to make your life easier by optimizing posts, automating posting schedules, and providing in-app tracking. Designed to help maximize post visibility across social media channels, MeetEdgar gives you a leg up so you can highlight your company’s products and services. 

While social media isn’t really a “set it and forget it” form of marketing, MeetEdgar helps entrepreneurs and small businesses maintain an online presence without becoming overwhelmed with the daily management of their accounts.

MeetEdgar is a popular social media automation scheduling tool that outshines the competition due to its unique ability to keep your accounts updated – even after you’ve stopped uploading new content. It’s ideal for small businesses that don’t have the personnel to manage multiple social media accounts. 

What We Love About MeetEdgar

  • Easily manage posts for multiple social platforms with one login
  • “Set it and forget it” function lets you schedule posts in advance
  • Organize content by category
  • Access post analytics
  • A/B Testing
  • Continuous content shared automatically from archives
  • RSS feed integration lets you add content straight from your RSS feed
  • Drive more traffic with the URL shortener feature
  • Generate weekly reports
  • Multi-language support
  • Customer support with a real human connection
  • Free trial for subscription plans

Are There Any Drawbacks?

  • No free version
  • Single person account
  • Must log in to each social media platform separately to engage with posts

How Much Does MeetEdgar Cost?

Compared to other social scheduling tools out there, MeetEdgar pricing stands out because it caters pretty exclusively to small businesses, entrepreneurs, and (according to their website) side hustlers. 

Although the monthly rates are relatively affordable, MeetEdgar offers discounts for nonprofits, veterans, and active military personnel. In addition, you get 30 days to see if it truly adds value to your business. In case you aren’t satisfied at the end of your trial, MeetEdgar offers a money-back guarantee.

Grammarly – Digital Writing Assistant

Often referred to as your “Grammar Assistant,” Grammarly is an app that checks your spelling, grammar, readability, tone, and more in real-time. This digital writing assistant is also available as an extension for browsers, Microsoft Word, WordPress, and Facebook, among others.

As a business owner, drafting formal documents can be time-consuming if you’re the only one proofreading them. Grammarly saves you time by checking your writing as you type, allowing you to make changes as you go or choose to wait until you’ve completed the draft.

Grammarly is designed to work wherever you communicate so you can write more effectively, concisely, and clearly. Whether it’s sending a simple work email, drafting a business proposal, or whipping something up at the last minute – Grammarly can be utilized for a variety of reasons.

What We Love About Grammarly 

  • Highly accurate, easy-to-use grammar software 
  • Focuses more on vocabulary and sentence structure than competitors
  • Real-time grammar correction saves you from accidentally sending a draft into the world
  • Customize language, audience, formality, domain, and intent
  • Easy to understand explanations to help you learn and improve
  • Add new words feature lets you incorporate brand names, slang, and abbreviations
  • Browser integration checks your writing across the internet
  • Human editors can be hired for reasonable rates
  • Plagiarism checker available with paid subscriptions

Are There Any Drawbacks?

  • Only available in one language (English)
  • More expensive than similar writing apps
  • Doesn’t always recognize technical terms and jargon as correct

How Much Does Grammarly Cost?

Grammarly has a basic free option and two paid plans. The free version comes with limitations like no advanced correction suggestions and no plagiarism checker. The good news is that you can upgrade to the Premium or Business plan whenever you want to take advantage of additional features.

Pricing for Grammarly’s Premier plan can be billed annually, quarterly, or monthly for individual users. The Business plan is billed monthly or annually and requires a minimum of three members. It’s priced depending on your team size and comes with a free 7 day trial period.

Would you like to know more about Grammarly? Check out our comprehensive guide for helpful writing apps that might be suitable for your small business.

HelloSign – eSignature Software

Paperwork is one of the constants in business. No matter what size your business is, contracts need to be signed. HelloSign is an electronic signature software that lets you send and sign documents wherever you are, helping you close deals before you even get back in the office.

HelloSign, which was acquired by Dropbox in 2019, helps businesses get orders approved quickly, process applications faster, and allow multiple individuals to sign documents simultaneously no matter where they are in the world. You can affix signatures to documents whether they’re stored in Google Drive, Evernote, or Dropbox.

The platform’s user-friendly, drag-and-drop interface is perfect for users who aren’t as proficient with digital technology. It includes customization and collaboration features with bank-level security that can help businesses of any size. 

What We Love About HelloSign

  • Unlimited signature requests with certain plans
  • Allows for multiple signatures on one document
  • Audit trail, data validation, and reporting metrics useful for compliance
  • Available in multiple languages
  • Supports 15+ file formats
  • Unlimited document templates with certain plans
  • Third-party app integration (Google Docs, Gmail, Sharepoint, and Salesforce)
  • Mobile-friendly documents
  • ESIGN Act Compliant
  • Free version and free trials with subscription plans

Are There Any Drawbacks?

  • Chat support is underwhelming
  • No integrations with payment processing programs
  • Some customers/clients may hesitate to sign contracts digitally

How Much Does HelloSign Cost?

Every HelloSign paid plan comes with unlimited signature requests per month. The main thing that differentiates the plans, other than the expanded available features, is how many different users are included.

There is a free version, but it restricts the number of signature requests to three. This may be suitable if your business doesn’t need more documents within a month.

As a Dropbox company, HelloSign has an advantage over competitors. One of the plans is a bundle that includes Dropbox Professional, saving you about 20% of the cost of purchasing them separately.

How to Choose Which Business Tools to Invest In

In today’s online world, any of the tools we’ve discussed here may help your business rise above the competition. Digital business tools provide the automation your business needs to run smoother, leaving you with more time and energy to do what you’re good at.

Remember, the perfect online business tool doesn’t exist. At least not the same one for everyone. Depending on your specific business, one of these apps will be more beneficial for your business than another. For this reason, we cannot determine for you which of our recommendations will be the most helpful tool for your business.

Whatever your needs are, incorporating online tools will help you keep up with increased digitization and reach greater heights in business. Now is the time to invest in the right tools for your business.

Did we miss any important business tools that your organization has found helpful? Let us know in the comments below.

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