When it comes to starting your own business, having the right tools can make the difference between success or failure. From drafting professional contracts and taking meetings with clients, to staying on top of your inbox and all the day-to-day administrative tasks involved with running your own business, ensuring you have the right tools in place will not only help you manage your workflow, it can also help you maximize profits.
But, not all tools out there are created equal. Some are better than others for a particular type of task, while others are better for solopreneurs as opposed to teams. And, not every business will need every particular type of tool. When it comes to choosing the best tools for starting your business, here are some things to keep in mind.
Type of business
As mentioned above, not every business will have a practical need for every type of tool. Before investing in a particular tool, consider carefully if what you do is a fit for the function of the tool. For example, a small brick-and-mortar shop is less likely to need for an email marketing tool than an ecommerce website(opens in a new tab). A service provider may not need an expensive camera to take product shots. And a one-person-shop may find a complex project management system to be overcomplicated and overwhelming for their needs. Keep in mind the type of business you’re starting when looking around at tools.
Size of business
The size of your operation will also impact the types of tools you may use. If it’s just you, you might find you can skip many of the tools that are best for collaboration. And maybe you don’t need a payroll tool with all the bells and whistles. On the other hand, it might also be worth checking out their features and functionality just in case you have plans to scale your business.
One final, yet very important, consideration when shopping around for the best tools to start a business is the cost. After all, you don’t want to be shelling out too much money on all these various tools before you’re bringing some in. Many of the tools on our list have free versions or free trials, to let you get a sense of the tool before investing in a paid or premium version. Oftentimes, the free version of these tools is more than sufficient for most people just starting out in business. Sure, some features may be limited, but it’s often worth the trade-off for an affordable option.
From creating your business plan and building your brand, to engaging with your clients and keeping track of sales and inventory, having the right tools can help entrepreneurs increase their productivity, free up time, and even offer a better experience for their customers. Using the right tools for your small business to the fullest can sometimes be the difference between success and failure.
With all of that in mind, here are 20 of the best tools for starting your own business.
Best For Task Management
- Add files
- Add checklists
- Stay on top of due dates
- Free trial of premium option
- Standard: $5 per month
- Premium: $10 per month
- Enterprise: $17.50 per month
Staying on top of your to-do list is crucial when starting your own business. Trello(opens in a new tab) is a free tool that allows you to create boards, lists, and cards to keep track of all your tasks. Similar to a kan-ban board, Trello looks like your post-it notes on your whiteboard converted to digital. You can drag and drop cards from one column to another, great for laying out workflows or multiple projects. It’s also easy to collaborate with other members of your team as your business grows. Intuitive features make it easy to quickly set up and customize workflows for just about anything.
Best For Document Creation And Analytics
- Real-time collaboration
- Shared drives for team
- Intuitive interface
- 24/7 online support
- Connects to other Google apps
- Personal Plan: Free
- Business Standard: $12 per month
Google Docs(opens in a new tab) lets you create and collaborate on online documents in real-time and from any device. It’s free to use through your Google account, or you can upgrade to their Workspace service designed with businesses in mind. It seamlessly connects with other Google apps, for a convenient, all-in-one productivity solution.
Google Analytics(opens in a new tab) gives you essential customer insights to understand the customer journey and improve marketing ROI. Analytics offers built-in automation, intuitive and flexible reporting, cross-platform attribution, and so much more to help new businesses succeed. It’s an industry-standard tool that many companies use for their reporting, so knowing how to use it is a benefit in and of itself.
Best For Team Organization
- Workflow builder
- Real-time reporting
- Desktop and mobile apps
- Sync tasks across projects
- Basic plan: Free
- Premium plan: $10.99 per month
- Business plan: $24.99 per month
Similar to Trello, Asana is an online to-do list and project management tool for businesses of all sizes. They layout is similar, with cards you can drag and drop, but it builds from there into a high-powered productivity management suite. The basic plan is free for up to 15 people, and is perfect for individuals or teams just getting started with project management, and offers more than enough features for those just starting out. Asana also boasts more than 200+ integrations(opens in a new tab) (including Microsoft Teams, Gmail, and Google Calendar), so you can bring together everything you need to communicate, collaborate, and coordinate work.
Best For Designing Professional Graphics And Images
- Social media publishing integration
- Hundreds of thousands of free photos
- Collaborate and comment in real time
- Easily save and apply custom brand colors
- Secure cloud storage
- Free plan: Free
- Enterprise plan: $30 per month
- Pro plan: $119.99 per year
Canva(opens in a new tab) is a free online graphic design tool that allows users to create visually engaging social media posts, presentations, posters, videos, logos, and more. It’s easy to get started and use. There are thousands of professional templates, images, and other content to choose from – ideal for a budding business with a tight marketing budget. Most of them are free, so you can get high-quality graphics on a budget. The tool offers folders to keep you organized, as well as real-time collaboration with built-in commenting. You can even plan, create, schedule, and publish your social media posts directly from Canva.
Best For Staying Connected
- Huddles and clips
- Accessibility features
- Workflow builder
- File sharing
- Data encryption
- Free plan: Free
- Pro plan: $6.67 per month
- Business+ plan: $12.50 per month
Slack(opens in a new tab) is an online messaging platform that helps unclog your inbox while keeping you connected to your team. It’s a feral cross between AIM of yore and reddit – with all the delight, distraction, and usefulness that entails. Slack uses a system called channels to help you stay organized and focused, with the ability to share files, tools, and conversations. It connects with over 2,000 apps and integrations (on paid versions) like Google Drive, Office 365, and others. The free option gives you access to 10k searchable messages, 10 apps and integrations, 1-to-1 video calls, and two-factor authentication. Slack’s handy AI assistant, named Slackbot, can be used to set reminders, link with other services, and cause mischief if you’re so inclined.
Best For Sending Large Files
- Desktop and mobile apps
- Store and sync passwords across devices
- 30-day file recovery
- Available remote device wipe
- Access to HelloSign e-signatures
- Plus plan: $11.99 per month
- Family plan: $19.99 per month
- Professional plan: $19.99 per month
- Standard plan: $18 per user per month
- Advanced plan: $30 per user per month
When starting your own business, chances are you’re going to be sharing a lot of files back and forth with teammates, partners, and even prospective customers. Dropbox(opens in a new tab) makes it easy to share files that would otherwise be too large to attach in an email. No one likes to get the dreaded file-too-big alert from Gmail. Dropbox is easily accessible from any device, so you always have access to files while on the go. The free version gives you up to 2GB of cloud-based storage, while Plus offers 2000GB and Professional gets you 3000GB. There’s quite a jump in storage from the free to the paid version, but the former should do OK if you’re only sending documents back and forth and you can clear them out of Dropbox when you’re done.
Best For Video Conferencing
- Host virtual experiences
- Marketplace integrations and bots
- HD audio and video
- Advanced background noise suppression
- Share files and search content within groups
- Basic plan: Free
- Pro plan: $149.90 per year per license
- Business plan: $199.90 per year per license
- Enterprise plan: $240 per year per license
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve all become a lot more familiar with Zoom. It’s a secure video platform that allows you to take meetings, chat, lead webinars and online events, and more from wherever you are. The Zoom phone app gives you the same functionality as the desktop app. The free Zoom Meetings plan lets you host up to 100 participants in unlimited meetings, for up to 40 minutes (Google Meet, in contrast, gives you an hour-long meeting for free). If you need more time than 40 minutes, either for a meeting or team trivia, paid plans(opens in a new tab) start at around $150 per year.
Best For Web Browser
- Search across apps, tabs, and workspaces in seconds
- Multiple workspaces
- Built-in ad blocker
- Reduces memory consumption up to 80%
- CPU usage monitoring
- Free plan: Free
- Pro plan: $12 per month
- Pro team plan: Customizable to your business
SideKick is a browser that brings together every web tool you use for easy access. It also blocks ads and trackers to help you stay focused. Its AI-based tab suspension system helps save memory by automatically suspending tabs that you don’t need at the moment. You can give your most-used apps a home in the sidebar for quick access, and all the alerts from your various apps are in one easy-to-spot place. The SideKick search bar is the real standout feature – it lets you search across all your apps, tabs, and workspaces in seconds. There’s a free version with enough features for any starting business, but the paid versions(opens in a new tab) offer further functionality.
Best For Email Marketing
- Audience management with marketing CRM
- Ability to import your own templates
- Multiple integration options
- Access to a MailChimp domain
- Forms and landing pages
- Free plan: Free
- Essentials plan: $11 per month
- Standard plan: $17 per month
- Premium plan: $299 per month
Growing an email list is an important goal for many new businesses, and MailChimp(opens in a new tab) makes it easy, whether you’re sending newsletters or marketing emails. You can create, send, and track your emails and campaigns from within the platform. MailChimp offers easy-to-use design tools and flexible templates, so your business’s emails can really shine. There’s even an AI-powered Creative Assistant that will generate custom designs for your business in just seconds! The free plan offers access to MailChimp’s marketing CRM, creative assistant, website builder, a MailChimp domain, forms, and landing pages, so you can manage your website and email marketing all in one place.
Best For Building And Hosting A Website
- Integration for e-commerce and appointment scheduling
- Access to Experts who can help at any stage of development
- Free custom domain
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Promotional pop-ups and banners
- Personal plan: $19 per month
- Business plan: $33 per month
- Basic Commerce plan: $36 per month
- Advanced Commerce plan: $65 per month
Squarespace lets you create a customizable website or online store, offering an all-in-one solution for those looking to start their own business and need an online home. There are plenty of flexible templates that let you customize your look and feel, and they offer integration for e-commerce and appointment scheduling. When you create a website with Squarespace, you get free unlimited hosting, security, and 24/7 support to help you succeed. For those who don’t want to go the DIY route of building their own website, Squarespace offers access to experts who’ll handle it for you. They also offer integrations with major email service providers like MailChimp, so you can easily convert site visitors to newsletter subscribers.
Best For Accounting
- Desktop and mobile apps
- Free unlimited support
- Free trial for 30 days
- Capture and organize receipts
- Maximize tax deductions
- Self-employed plan: $15 per month
- EasyStart plan: $22 per month
- Essentials plan: $44 per month
- Plus plan: $66 per month
- Advanced plan: $140 per month
QuickBooks products are geared mainly toward small and medium-sized businesses, and allow you to easily create invoices, track your cash flow, accept payments, and more. Plans(opens in a new tab) start at around $5 per month, which covers the basics of getting paid, tracking expenses, and small business accounting. It’s compatible with a number of apps including Square, Plooto, and Dext. The companion mobile app allows you to get work done on-the-go and have access to your financials right at your fingertips. If you decide to hand things over to a paid bookkeeper or accountant later on, they’ll likely be familiar with QuickBooks already.
Best For Preparing Legal Documents
- Documents based on a flat fee
- Money-back guarantee
- Legally recognized in all 50 states
- Extensive service offerings
- Affordable business advisory plan
- Plans: Customizable to your business
You’ll want to protect your budding business by ensuring that you have solid contracts in place, and all your startup documentation is in order. But hiring a lawyer can be awfully expensive, so many people turn to online legal filing companies to handle basic contracts and legal documentation. LegalZoom allows you to create legal documents without having to hire a lawyer independently. You can create documents such as business formation documents, copyright registrations, trademark applications, and more. Documents are based on a flat fee depending on complexity, plus any filing fees. The company’s documents are accepted in all 50 states.
Best For Getting Documents Signed
- Contract lifecycle management
- Incorporate payments within contracts
- Capture consent in a single click
- Electronic notarization
- Desktop and mobile app
- Personal plan: $15 per month
- Standard plan: $45 per user per month
- Business Pro plan: $65 per user per month
- Enhanced plans: Customizable to your business
If you’ve gone through all the trouble to get your legal house officially in order, you’re going to need a way to keep those contracts organized and easily accept electronic signatures, That’s where a DocuSign(opens in a new tab) account comes in. While you can sign electronically in most PDF management software, DocuSign puts your most important documents in one place. It also automatically emails countersigned copies to the signatories, preventing the risk of having outdated, unsigned versions hanging around. Plus the platform easily integrates with more than 350 other tools. There’s a 30-day free trial, with no credit card required, after which you can upgrade to a paid plan for about $25 per month.
Best For Filing Taxes
- Searches for over 350 tax deductions
- Mobile apps for Apple and Android
- Refund advance
- Comprehensive reporting
- Access to free tax planning resources
- Free plan: Free
- Deluxe plan: $59
- Premier plan: $89
- Self-Employed plan: $119
- Basic plan with advice: $79
- Deluxe plan with advice: $119
- Premier plan with advice: $169
- Self-Employed plan with advice: $199
- Basic plan with tax expert: $199
- Deluxe with tax expert: $249
- Premier with tax expert: $359
- Self-Employed with tax expert: $389
Once you start bringing in some cash from your business, don’t forget to report it come tax time. TurboTax(opens in a new tab) makes it easy with their guided tax filing software, or you can opt to have one of their professionals handle the details for you. The software searches for deductions to maximize your return, and offers a 100% accuracy guarantee – or they’ll pay any IRS penalties. You’ll get free guidance from a trained tax professional in case you’re ever audited, and e-file gets you your return faster. As mentioned, there is a free option, while the full-service solution starts at $389.
Best For Phone Number
- Unlimited team messaging
- Unlimited meetings for up to 100
- CRM integration
- IP deskphone capabilities
- 50+ business phone features standard
- Mobile plan for four employees: $19.99 per month per line
- Premium plan for four employees: $29.99 per month per line
- Advanced plan for four employees: $39.99 per month per line
- Mobile plan for 18 employees: $17.99 per month per line
- Premium plan for 18 employees: $27.99 per month per line
- Advanced plan for 18 employees: $37.99 per month per line
- Mobile plan for 50 employees: $14.99 per month per line
- Premium plan for 50 employees: $24.99 per month per line
- Advanced plan for 50 employees: $34.99 per month per line
A VoIP (voice over internet protocol) service provides an enhanced version of what you’d expect from a standard business phone provider, often at a fraction of the cost. This way you and your team are always available to connect. There are many VoIP options for small business owners, but we think Vonage Business VoIP(opens in a new tab) is great because it’s simple to use. It might not be the cheapest if you want plenty of features, but the simple user interface and budget-friendly price point make it stand out for businesses just starting out. There’s also a mobile app, so you can stay connected while out and about.
Best For Powering Online Business Tools
- HDMI and USB-A ports, as well as Thunderbolt 4
- Available 4G or 5G mobile broadband
- Clever, sanitizing-friendly Quick Clean function
- Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor
- Weighs just 2.49 lbs
It goes without saying that in order to use many of these software tools, you’ll need a laptop to power them. But we’re going to say it anyway: You need a computer to run your business if you don’t already have one. (Not to mention stay connected, process sales, and so, so much more!) Depending on your business, it may be worth having a dedicated work laptop. Fortunately our sister site, PCMag, has a rundown of the best business laptops for 2022, with the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 taking the cake. It’s ultra portable, has a world class keyboard, and offers outstanding battery life for the price.
Best For Staying Connected On The Go
- Durable design with Ceramic Shield
- Up to 28 hours of video playback
- Pro camera system with new 12MP Telephoto, Wide, and Ultra Wide cameras
- Industry-leading IP68 water resistance
- 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR display
When you’re starting a business, it’s important to be connected and accessible. A smartphone not only lets your team and clients stay in touch, it offers access at your fingertips, literally, to all the apps necessary for you to run your business. The iPhone 13 Pro Max is a solid choice for those starting their own business, as most business software offers apps that are iOS compatible. The large screen makes it easy to go over documents or check specs from the palm of your hand. Upgrade to the 1TB of storage and you’ll never have to worry about running out of storage space.
Best For Taking Better Cell Phone Photos
- Includes TruView 0.45x Wide Angle Lens, Clarus 15x Macro Lens
- GlowClip Mini Rechargeable LED Light
- Storage case included
- Compatible with all brands of smartphones
- Integrated USB charge port
If you want to make the most of your smart phone’s camera abilities, a lens kit can help. It’s the difference between the mobile phone photos you’re taking right now and the ones you see all over Instagram. Yes it’s technically the same device, but with some important differences. The Xenvo Pro Lens Kit is compatible with both iPhone and Android devices, and comes complete with a TruView 0.45x Wide Angle Lens, Clarus 15x Macro Lens, TruGrip Lens Clip, GlowClip Mini Rechargeable LED Light and Charging Cable, Quick-Release Lanyard, DuraCase, EasyClip, Cleaning Cloth, and a lifetime warranty. It’s ideal for getting wide angle shots and ultra close ups.
UBeesize 10″ Selfie Ring Light with 50″ Extendable Tripod Stand & Flexible Phone Holder
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Best For Video Call And “Live” Lighting
- Tripod extends from 16″ to 50″
- 3-way pan head with a convenient handle
- Integrated phone holder
- Includes 3-year replacement service for any part
- Soft storage pouch included
A ring light (with tripod) lets you easily look your best on video calls, and other business uses such as Instagram or Facebook lives. Without good lighting, you can appear grainy when engaging on camera. It also gives you the ability to make professional-looking videos with just your cell phone! The UBeesize 10″ Selfie Ring Light with 50″ Extendable Tripod Stand & Flexible Phone Holder gets rave reviews, is easy to set up and use, and comes in at under $50. For those who don’t have access to consistent natural light, or don’t want to invest in a full lighting setup, a ring light and tripod is a good starting point.