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Updated by Kotive HQ on Oct 26, 2016
Headline for 16+ of the best affordable tools for improving business operations
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16+ of the best affordable tools for improving business operations

Take a look at our list of life-saving business operations tools, and choose one (or many!) that will work for you. Quite a few of the tools below have been included in our Small Business Toolkit - a package of discounts and free trials for some of the best business operations tools out there.

Source: http://www.kotive.com/blog/tools-for-improving-business-operations/

Shopify

Running a shop doesn’t have to purely take place from your premises, in fact, moving your business online is one of the best ways to reach a wider audience of customers. For instance, if your product is very niche-specific (like Pokemon fan gear, for example), you may not have many customers in your area, but would have tens of thousands of customers all over the world.

With Shopify, you can keep track of your stock, receive and process orders, and receive payments through payment portals - all online. The only business operations that would stay offline would be manufacturing the Pokemon fan gear, and delivering it to your customers.

Harvest

If any part of your business relies on hourly billing, Harvest is worth taking a look at. And even if you don’t bill hourly, it’s important to know how much time you’re spending on separate tasks. Harvest is a time-tracking tool that’ll allow you to monitor yourself and your business operations - which means that you can pinpoint where you need to improve in order to speed things up, eventually freeing up more time to focus on new customers.

Grasshopper

If you’re running a small business, especially one that’s run mostly from a home-office, there’s a good chance that your employees will also work from home, or at least away from the office. Grasshopper is a phone system that allows you to run your business from your mobile phone, instead of from a landline. This is also a very useful tool for people whose business operations take them away from the office fairly often.

Sparkpost

Transactional emails (emails that are triggered by specific events, like a quote being approved, or a customer placing an order online) are a modern-day convenience that automatically keep staff and customers in the loop during the operations of your business.

  • Sparkpost offers personalized transactional emailing - but most small businesses don’t have their own developers who can set these transactional emails up properly.
  • On the other hand, Kotive has built-in transactional emailing (without any coding necessary!), although the emails sent from Kotive can’t be personalized with signatures, and are sent from an email address that has nothing to do with your company.
  • Thankfully, Sparkpost is integrated with Kotive, giving you the best of both worlds: Custom emails with your own signatures, sent from your business email address, and set up without the help of a developer.
Mandrill

Transactional emails (emails that are triggered by specific events, like a quote being approved, or a customer placing an order online) are a modern-day convenience that automatically keep staff and customers in the loop during the operations of your business.

  • Mandrill offers personalized transactional emailing - but most small businesses don’t have their own developers who can set these transactional emails up properly.
  • On the other hand, Kotive has built-in transactional emailing (without any coding necessary!), although the emails sent from Kotive can’t be personalized with signatures, and are sent from an email address that has nothing to do with your company.
  • Thankfully, Mandrill is integrated with Kotive, giving you the best of both worlds: Custom emails with your own signatures, sent from your business email address, and set up without the help of a developer.
Clickatell

When customer interaction is constant, but brief, sometimes emails don’t quite cut it in terms of notifications. Clickatell is one solution for this - instead of emailing your customer every time that a minor update needs to be sent, an sms can be sent.

This convenient messaging keeps your customers in the loop, without them having to check their email regularly. Clickatell is also integrated with Kotive, turning their SMS services into transactional notifications.

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Twilio

Twilio

When customer interaction is constant, but brief, sometimes emails don’t quite cut it in terms of notifications. Twilio is one solution for this - instead of emailing your customer every time that a minor update needs to be sent, an sms can be sent.

This convenient messaging keeps your customers in the loop, without them having to check their email regularly. Twilio is also integrated with Kotive, turning their SMS services into transactional notifications.

7

Slack

Slack

Internal business operations rely on one thing to run smoothly: quick, clear communication. When you need to get a team member working on something right away, email isn’t always the best way to let them know - emails can get shunted to spam for no reason, or can simply be ignored in a busy inbox.

Slack is a brilliant messaging tool for internal communication that solves these problems, and when it’s integrated with Kotive, it’s another alternative to transactional emailing.

GoToMeeting

Another useful tool for small business owners who work from home or are out of the office a lot of the time - GoToMeeting allows staff to gather online for meetings, instead of in person, saving travel time and expenses. And these online meetings aren’t restricted to staff alone - you can use GoToMeeting with your customers, too.

Capsule

Keep all of your contacts in the same place, from customers to leads and vendors, and manage your CRM tasks with a calendar and full history of your customers, using Capsule. It also features the ability to track bids, deals and proposals, keeping you constantly up-to-date with where your future income will be coming from.

Close.io

Data entry is a constant pain to anybody who needs to log their calls and emails as they make them. The solution? Close.io. This tool automatically logs your calls as you make them, and your emails as you send them, freeing up time to focus on efficiency and customer relationships instead.

Mailchimp

When somebody new signs up to join your mailing list, you shouldn’t have to manually add them to your contacts. Mailchimp is integrated with Kotive so you don’t have to. As soon as a new person signs up, they’re automatically added to your mailing list. (A tool that uses Mailchimp in this way is ‘New membership’.)

And the great thing about Mailchimp, is the ability to easily create attractive newsletters to send to everyone on that list, with user-friendly templates.

DocRaptor

DocRaptor is a brilliant tool that allows .pdf and .xlsx files to be generated from html templates. Although finances are not the only area in which DocRaptor is useful, it quickly becomes apparent why it is particularly helpful here - by using DocRaptor within a business operations taskflow, you can automatically create quotes and invoices from templates, saving you a lot of time, and making finances easier to manage, too.

Feeling confused? Here’s an example of how DocRaptor can improve a taskflow:

Clone and then update the ‘Billing for gardening service’ taskflow:

  • Simply add DocRaptor to the taskflow, before the ‘Email bill to client’ email, to generate a .pdf invoice.
  • Then, instead of detailing the invoice in the email, place the link to the new .pdf in the email text.

And there you have it: a professional invoice is sent to your customer, without any extra administrative work on your part.

Freshbooks

Freshbooks has everything you might need to make your business’s accounting easy. From creating invoices and capturing expenses, to time-tracking for billable hours and collecting payments online, it’s the full package.

Shoeboxed

Don’t lose track of your receipts - use shoeboxed to scan and organize your receipts as you get them, to generate expense reports, and even to track your mileage.

Freeagent

If you hate worrying about tax (who doesn’t?) then Freeagent is worth your notice. On top of managing your daily admin and keeping track of the bigger picture with an overview, Freeagent makes tax easier to deal with, too, because you can set up multiple sales tax rates for your countries, and all of the countries that you do business with.