(Flickr photo via Chris Samuel)

If you’ve ever been part of a startup, then you know how much hard work it involves. And you usually don’t have enough people to get all the work done!

That’s why entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to cut down on distractions and work faster and smarter. The following is a list of eleven productivity tools that can help you be more productive and efficient with your time.

Productivity Tool #1 TaskRabbit

One thing that is really great about TaskRabbit is you can find anybody to do anything. So often the people who work for a startup or small business tend to do lots of different things. They might code, do some networking and then put a desk together.

But startups are so starved for time that lots of things don’t get done and sometimes more profitable tasks don’t get the time and attention they deserve.

With TaskRabbit you can hire someone to move boxes, research a proposal, design a logo or run and grab lunch and dinner for your team every day. It’s even great for personal stuff, so if you’re like me and work 80 hours a week, it’s great to have somebody else do your laundry or grocery shopping.

Productivity Tool #2 Batchbook 

Batchbook is a great cloud-based contact management for sales and social media. It allows you to keep track of your communications, create contact lists, manage to-do lists, and using the Super Tags feature you can customize your data for reports and research.

On the sales side of things, you can see all your sales, even the closed deals. I personally like how beside each contact I can see their social media activity. It allows you an opportunity to jump in and contribute to a discussion, possibly picking up some business along the way. BatchBook integrates nicely with Google Contacts, Mail Chimp and FreshBooks.

Productivity Tool #3 MailChimp

Staying connected with your prospects and customers is so important for a startup, but it can also be very time-consuming since there is a lot that goes into proper communication.

MailChimp helps you create email newsletters that look professional and don’t cost a fortune. It’s got everything you could think of in one place.

You can choose from templates and design the look of the email using your own logo and colors, send it with a few clicks of your mouse, integrate it with your social networks and track your results!

I recommend you set up an autoresponder email series so you can automate the early stages of email communication. The A/B testing feature is great for finding that message that really connects with your readers.

Productivity Tool #4 DropBox

Ever been out to a business meeting and wish you had that one document, photo or video that would really get across your point? Well, with DropBox you’ll never be without the information you need because you can access it anywhere.

You start off by downloading the DropBox desktop app and start storing important content in it. Then you’ll want to get the free phone app, which is available on all phones. Now you’ve got your information with you at all times, no matter where you are traveling.

The free service has up to 2 gigabytes, so if you think you’ll need more than that you may want to upgrade to the paid level.

Productivity Tool #5 Yammer

If you want a communication tool for your startup, Yammer is a great tool to use. It’s basically a private microblogging tool like Twitter that only your company sees and uses. By adding names and email addresses you can even invite partners outside of your company to join.

It’s a secure network that also archives all of the conversations. That’s a great feature since people can then search that archive to see if someone else might have answered their question.

It’s also great for project teams, so if you’re a writer and you’re working with a designer and a coder, you three can create a private discussion area. And just like Twitter, you can send private, direct messages. Fast communication is a great time saver!

Productivity Tool #6 Jing

I really like Jing because it cuts out unnecessary phone calls and emails by showing people exactly what you are seeing, even if you are thousands of miles apart.

The way Jing works is as a desktop app that allows you to capture your screen as an image, crop it to the way you like it and then send it someone else. You can draw arrows and make notes on the images, too.

This is great if you are collaborating with someone because you can send them a picture of a website to help explain an idea.  Jing even lets you create a video, which allows you to explain to someone how to do something. Maybe it’s a customer who is having trouble signing in to his account. You can take a video of you doing it on your screen and then send it to him or her.

Everything you create can be stored on your computer, online at screencast.com, a clipboard, FTP server or Flikr.

Productivity Tool #7 Google Docs

Google Docs makes collaborating with another person or a team on a document or spreadsheet super easy. No more back and forth with emails and multiple documents that only leads to confusion.

Once you create a document, all you have to do is invite everyone you want to see the document, which is really easy to do inside Google Docs. There are two different levels of permission: viewing or editing.

When you have a document open you can see who is viewing it and then look at the revision history to see track changes to the document.

The most current version is always the most up to date, but if there is a version in the history you prefer, you can choose that version and Google Docs automatically makes that the current version.

Productivity Tool #8 Square

For some small businesses like mobile food trucks or tattoo artists, taking payment by credit card can be hard and expensive, but with Square you can take and make payments anywhere. It even accepts American Express.

The nice thing about this tool is that everything is tracked electronically, so you don’t have to enter data, saving you time.

It keeps track of your sales and your expenses. When you take a payment it always stores an electronic receipt.

There is also a feature that allows you to calculate taxes and even allow a customer to add a tip. It works for iPhones, iPads and Androids.

Productivity Tool #9 Rescue Time

I do not know where I would be without Rescue Time! It easily saves me four to five hours every week because it just helps me focus on tasks that I need to get done and helps me avoid those distractions that come at me all the time.

The cool thing about Rescue Time is that it tracks all your activities. So if I’m working through my inbox and then jump on Facebook to answer a couple of questions and then move to review a proposal and finish out the morning writing a blog post, Rescue Time keeps tabs on what I’m doing. I don’t have to enter any data. Ever.

Then I can look at the reports and see if I’m using my time wisely. And if I move away from my desk I can tell Rescue Time to track my activity as a phone call or meeting or tell it to stop tracking.

The feature I like most is called Focus. You tell it how much time you want to spend on a task and then it starts to count down the time. It will even block certain sites that you choose to block during this time in case you are tempted to check your email or Google+ account.

Productivity Tool #10 Evernote

If you’re the kind of person who is constantly collecting ideas from online, people you talk to and things you see, then Evernote is perfect for you.

It’s got an iPhone and Android app that allows you to sync your notes with your cloud account and desktop app with one click.

You can save entire web pages or just a sentence or paragraph, type in random thoughts or record ideas with the audio recording feature, then share these ideas with friends or co-workers. John Henshaw wrote an in-depth post on all of Evernote’s features. I recommend reading it!

Productivity Tool #11 FreshBooks

Bookkeeping can be one of the most time-consuming and least fun parts of running a business. But it has to be done! Enter FreshBooks.

This tool organizes all your accounts, like bank, credit card or PayPal, into one place, keeps tabs on your sales and expenses and updates your profit and loss number so you know where you stand at all times.

If you like to dig into reports, FreshBooks lets you do that, too, with a handful of really easy to understand graphs and reports. It also helps you stay on top of estimated quarterly taxes, which can be difficult to remember and painful if you don’t pay on time.

Conclusion

Starting a business is hard work and takes a ton of time. Anyway you can figure out how to be more productive so you can focus on the profitable tasks will help you grow!

I hope these tools help you do just that. What productivity tools do you use to help your startup work faster and smarter?

Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics, an analytics provider that helps companies make better business decisions.

Comments

  • Joe

    The number one tool (TaskRabbit)….. doesn’t support Seattle. 

  • http://twitter.com/moniguzman Monica Guzman

    Evernote is my second brain. Helps me remember those little ideas that fly away if you don’t trap them.

  • http://slworrell.wordpress.com Sherree W.

    I’m using a few of these but there are others I need to look into, like now! 

    I use Springpad – works just like Evernote (just a matter of preference). TaskRabbit is also not available in Sacramento area (that I know of).

  • http://www.goalsontrack.com Harry @ GoalsOnTrack

    Great list. You may also check out a goal tracking and motivation tool http://GoalsOnTrack.com

  • http://CameronPlommer.com Cameron Plommer

    I put together this Evernote Tutorial series.  Hope it helps!  http://bit.ly/pppl9v

  • http://kerika.com Arun Kumar

    We build and use Kerika, which is great for startups particularly when your team is distributed across multiple locations (e.g. people working from home, offshore, etc.).  Unlike other collaboration tools, Kerika focuses on sharing project context and project content: it turns your browser into a big whiteboard that you can use to sketch our your plans and also share your content in a very visual way.  Any content that you upload gets stored in your Google Docs automatically, plus you can “cut and paste the Internet” in terms of grabbing content from third-party sites to use on your project pages.

  • http://twitter.com/plumagram Plumagram

    Thanks so much for sharing! I use most of these for years now, but Yammer, TaskRabbit and Jing were new to me. I’m also using Xoom for transferring money to my admins in Philippines, Wistia for video hosting & tracking, EchoSign for electronic document signing, Squarespace for fast website building, Moo for biz cards printing, HootSuite for all social media managing and Mint for money tracking :)

  • http://www.carenovate.com Lola

    Love love this list. As a working mama, busy family, caring for parents & young kids, love the idea of ww.CareNovate.com…an online marketplace/database for care seekers & care givers such background check nannies, pet walkers, senior care givers, personal assistant, office helpers, etc.

  • http://www.tatango.com/blog Derek Johnson

    Wunderlist needs to be on this list for sure.

  • http://www.tatango.com/blog Derek Johnson

    Wunderlist needs to be on this list for sure.

  • http://twitter.com/Buzzmodo Buzz Bruggeman

    In terms of adding productivity to your team, I challenge anyone reading to do the things start-ups need to faster than what our product does, e.g., ActiveWords, http://www.activewords.com/ . And we are the only product that quantifies the the economic impact of our product on your time. But at the risk of starting a firestorm, we only run on Windows.

  • http://twitter.com/Buzzmodo Buzz Bruggeman

    In terms of adding productivity to your team, I challenge anyone reading to do the things start-ups need to faster than what our product does, e.g., ActiveWords, http://www.activewords.com/ . And we are the only product that quantifies the the economic impact of our product on your time. But at the risk of starting a firestorm, we only run on Windows.

  • http://twitter.com/paulbz Paul Murphy

    Great list.  I would add Highrise – super simple CRM, exactly what you need in a startup and Easy Insight for simple reporting.

  • http://twitter.com/paulbz Paul Murphy

    Great list.  I would add Highrise – super simple CRM, exactly what you need in a startup and Easy Insight for simple reporting.

  • Anonymous

    HyperOffice (http://www.hyperoffice.com) is for companies which was fully integrated email, document management, project management, workspaces, workflows and web forms.

  • http://www.wegolook.com Lisa

    Great post.  I would like to mention WeGoLook.com which has a unique crowdsourcing business model. WeGoLook is an innovative online service that taps the power of crowd to get all types of physical onsite inspections done (product, person, place, property or thing).

  • http://www.wegolook.com Lisa

    Great post.  I would like to mention WeGoLook.com which has a unique crowdsourcing business model. WeGoLook is an innovative online service that taps the power of crowd to get all types of physical onsite inspections done (product, person, place, property or thing).

  • http://twitter.com/jmecantrell Jamie Cantrell

    You should add PBWorks to this list.  Great for wikis.

  • Tom Elliot

    Thanks a lot for this very helpful article. Yes, starting a business may seem a bit complicated at first, but with the right tools, everything will turn out smoothly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jo-Loas/100003256874938 Jo Loas

    Thank you for your post. I would like to add http://www.kanbantool.com – virtual board for organizing tasks.

  • chrism2671

    Ever seen TeamTodoList http://teamtodolist.com – great for managing small teams and remote workers with minimum hassle.

  • http://www.spark-labs.co/ Spark Labs

    Thank you for your list, it’s awesome. If you want to have a broader list for startups, check out 1300 links list: http://www.spark-labs.co/startup-tools-and-resources .

  • Albert pinto

    For startups and small businesses there is only one appropriate tool which I want to suggest you is Proofhub.com. Take a tour.

  • http://www.foundersuite.com Hilde Haustreis

    Great list! I would also mention https://foundersuite.com/ – five productivity tools for startups, and 80+ startup docs and templates for nuts-and-bolts. Worth a look!

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