As a small business, being nimble and getting things done quickly is crucial to your success. The right tools allow you to punch above your weight and compete with other companies in your space. We've spent a lot of time carefully assembling our toolkit.
We're always reviewing to check that our software is helping us really do what we need. We've learned that choosing the right software stack takes thoughtfulness and care. The wrong tools can actually hold you back. So we've put together our top considerations when evaluating tools for your small business.
Getting Your Software Right: What to Think About
How do tools really make the difference? When HubSpot rolled out a new CMS tool, it helped Campman to unify their website, blogging, and e-commerce quickly. This increased traffic and subscriptions by 10%.
Similarly, Red Door Realty can easily personalize and track email campaigns at scale thanks to Mailshake. Using the tool increased their lead conversion by 25%. And tools don't always just improve your revenue, many support staff productivity, and your bottom line.
So there's real merit in choosing the right ones. Start by considering how well a tool is likely to align with your business. That includes your goals, brand values, and target workflows.
Adoption and Evolution
We've learned that you shouldn't be bending to the will of another process, but crafting one that works best for your business. The best tools adapt to your needs rather than dictating how you work.
Your choice shouldn't just be based on the now, either. It's also important to consider how scalable and future-proofed a tool isif you're going to make a sizable investment. For software that's going to run your entire business, keep an eye out for how well it can serve your medium-term goals.
Having a Clear Vision for Your Software Needs
Prioritize your must-haves versus nice-to-have features. It'll stop you from overspending on capabilities you don't need. Focus on the critical stuff that'll give you the most return on investment. You can always expand functionality later.
In the meantime, there's always the ability to automate workflows through tools like Zapier. We use it to connect many parts of our business together and reduce repetitive manual work where we can.
When rolling out new tools, be sure to involve team leaders and users in the testing and decision process. Getting buy-in from the people involved in a process drives more successful adoption. Plus, there'll be greater understanding from both sides about what the software actually needs to do.
"With the right tools, a distributed team can move faster than colocated teams. Speed comes from focus, not proximity." - Jason Fried, Founder of Basecamp
As a distributed company, we lean extremely heavily on the right tools to get results. We use a combination of tools that create a powerful stack by doing specific things really well. It helps us to accelerates workflows and keeps communication smooth in the business.
We found some of the tools we use through common knowledge, previous experiences and resources such as G2 and Capterra. But some of the smaller, nimble tools cropped up in places like ProductHunt and beyond.
designstripe - Supercharging our Social Output
Our Smart Layouts tool was born out of a need to get more from our social efforts at scale. Being active and engaging on social is critical to any business’ success, and we decided that any business should have access to designer-approved quality social posts without paying the earth for it. Whether you’re a small business owner, ecommerce store or service-based business, creating for social should be quicker, slicker and visually stunning. That’s how Smart Layouts was born. We’re live, in beta and we’re using our own tool every day to tell the world what we’re doing, whilst growing our community.
Notion - Our Central Knowledge Base
Notion is the hub where all of our key documentation lives. We use it to organize projects, store research, manage our internal policies, and more. Having everything in one searchable place makes us more efficient. We can quickly reference important info without having to hunt across multiple tools. Notion's flexibility also allows us to customize it to our evolving needs as a startup.
Loom - Unlocking Asynchronous Communication
With team members across timezones, Loom is a gamechanger for async communication. We use it to record quick video messages that provide context and clarity. The ability to convey tone and personality in a video message makes Loom more effective than simple text for complex discussions. It allows us to have meaningful conversations without scheduling unnecessary meetings. You wouldn’t believe how much time this saves until you try it.
ChatGPT, Claude, AudioPen: AI-Powered Creators and Accelerators
This incredible trio of AI tools has completely transformed our content creation workflows. We can narrate a draft blog post or social media caption using AudioPen, then refine it using Claude. ChatGPT helps us brainstorm fresh angles and expand on outlines in seconds.
These tools allow us to rapidly ideate, write, refine, and collaborate on content. We’ve seen at least a 3x increase in output and creativity. And that’s not just across our marketing. It directly supports our operations and tech, too.
Figma - Enabling Seamless Design and Creative Collaboration
In Figma, we not only design our product UI and UX, but also wireframe blog posts, create social media post templates, design marketing emails, and more. Having a single visual collaboration hub makes it easy for our distributed team to provide feedback and iterate quickly.
The ability to turn around high-quality visual content in Figma accelerates all of our design efforts. It’s a truly collaborative experience, even for non-designers in the team.
Asana - Keeping us Coordinated Across Multiple Projects
Asana has the versatility for us to create projects, assign tasks, set deadlines, and track progress seamlessly. We rely on Asana to stay coordinated across multiple workstreams and ensure nothing falls through the cracks. It's the source of truth for who is doing what, and when.
Asana's flexibility also allows us to tailor views and workflows to each team's needs, whilst staying on the same page.
Slack - Streamlining Team Conversations
Slack is where ongoing conversations and collaboration happen. The ability to create topical channels cuts down on distractions and noise. We also rely heavily on Slack bots to automate reminders, triggers, and notifications. This keeps communication organized and lets us dial in the right cadence between a synchronous and asynchronous workflow.
With good discipline around Slack, it’s an invaluable tool for a distributed team like ours.
The Right Tools Will Significantly Impact Your Business
By embracing this powerful stack of modern tools, our small team can achieve incredible productivity. We get more done in less time without compromising on quality. Adopting the right tools allows any small business to level up, move faster, and drive growth.
An investment in productivity pays exponential dividends. The technology landscape evolves quickly, so keep evaluating new solutions as they emerge.
Which business tools couldn’t you live without? Reach out to us with your recommendations, or if you need any advice on building your digital toolkit.