Increasing business productivity is becoming more challenging for many entrepreneurs all around the world today. Globalization continues to be among the greatest contributors to the growing difficulties of many commercial groups in various industries when it comes to optimizing their business productivity. This has been going on for the past couple of decades and is predicted to continue as new trends and technologies emerge.
This has allowed new overseas product manufacturers to be able to suddenly gain massive popularity across target local buyer markets. You can lose significant market share and traction if this hits your locale. It’s also more straightforward for them to do this because of social media, digital advertising, internet marketing, drop-shipping, and affiliate enterprising. Global logistics providers are also making it quicker, easier and more affordable for them and your ideal local customers to get their products from international online stores, suppliers, retailers and distributors.
A good way to mitigate if not avoid these negative effects is by cost-effectively increasing your business productivity. This can also allow you to spot new trends and technological breakthroughs before it hits mainstream markets and significantly changes the behavior and habits of your target customers. This can, in turn, enable you to put these trends and technologies to good use. We’ve compiled 10 of the best free business productivity tools today to help you do this:
10 of the Best Free Business Productivity Tools
This task management software is a 100% free-to-use business productivity tool. Remember, knowing the exact tasks for you and your team to focus on is one of the most important things you should be doing. Next is completely avoiding things that won’t contribute anything of value to the success, growth, and expansion of your business. What comes next is ensuring that you can quickly, conveniently and seamlessly delegate and manage tasks that need to be done for the good of your business, your ideal prospects, and target customers.
That’s exactly what you’ll be able to do with the help of Wunderlist. You’ll be able to develop lists of tasks and share each list to the appropriate departments of your business and to the members of your executive, managerial, support and production teams. You’ll also be able to set priorities and review team output, updates and changes whenever you want.
This tool allows you and your team to instantaneously see priority lists of tasks. Updates, changes and additional comments from any of your employees, managers, and executives are also available for everyone in each task list as soon as it’s saved.
Managing Customer Relationships
This is a 100% free-to-use email management software. It provides customer relationship management (CRM) features for your email. This business productivity tool also allows business communication, customer conversation and sales tracking features. You can also set this software to send follow-up alerts and reminders after a designated amount of time has passed from your most recent conversations and business communications with your customers, clients, partners, and suppliers.
This is an ideal business productivity tool especially if large numbers of your sales are generated from your email marketing campaigns. You can use this to augment your mailing list management activities for your segmented lists of first time buyers, prospects, existing customers and repeat buyers.
Managing Social Media
Social media is essential for keeping your brand’s online presence relevant and up-to-date. You can automate your social media management process by using Hootsuite – a tool that lets you organize, curate, and schedule posts automatically across several social media platforms. Hootsuite is incredibly useful for monitoring and listening to mentions of your brand or organization across various social media streams without having to leave the platform.
Managing Meetings and Tracking Time
Partnering Streak up with another 100% completely free business productivity tool called Boomerang Calendar will also further optimize your email management requirements. That’s because this business productivity tool can provide you with helpful automation features for your task and appointment scheduling requirements straight in your Gmail account. Many of this software’s features are similar to Calendly, which is another auto-scheduling tool. But the big difference is, Boomerang Calendar is free, while Calendly isn’t.
So this can also complement your profit-generating strategies, especially if your sales team mainly relies on appointment setters. This enables your sales staff to easily monitor and efficiently manage their phone and face-to-face appointments with prospects and repeat buyers.
Toggl is especially useful for tracking time spent on various tasks. It is flexible, lightweight, and available for use as a desktop app, mobile app or browser extension. Its key feature is its simplicity – all it takes is one click to start a new time entry, or you can use keyboard shortcuts for easier toggling. Adding and editing time entries are quite flexible and can be done manually and in bulk. You can carefully manage your tasks with the help of tags, project colors, and reporting tools that lets you export detailed summaries or weekly reports for all users in your team.
The timeline view is also pretty handy if you want to see an overview of all your tasks and time spent on each. Toggl also lets you set reminders so you don’t forget – especially useful when you want to make sure billable hours are tracked.
Last but not least, Toggl supports over 100 integrations and is pretty robust. You can use it with Google Apps online or offline.
Note-taking, Documentation, and Archiving
FreeTranscriptions is an online automated transcription platform that can transcribe your audio or video files into text for free. Instead of employees note-taking during a meeting, more and more businesses turn to simply record their meetings and then having them transcribed afterward. This way, participants can fully turn their attention to the agenda at hand. By having a meeting transcribed, no detail is left forgotten and action items can be carefully noted and distributed to key team members after the fact.
While automated transcription is yet to be 100% accurate, anyone, who has experience in transcribing knows that it can be cumbersome and time-consuming. A free automated transcription tool like Freetranscriptions enables productivity by allowing employees to attend to more pressing matters and important tasks instead of inefficiently figuring out notes taken hurriedly that are prone to inaccuracies. The best part is it can transcribe your audio into text in real-time and you can get your transcript almost instantly. If you want to make sure your automatically transcribed files are 100% accurate, you can opt for their premium proofreading or editing services and your files will be handled by experienced human editors.
Simply put, Grammarly is an editing tool that can aid in making your writing correct and concise. Using Grammarly is like having an efficient writing coach – it can detect grammar, spelling, and style errors instantly. It points out your mistakes and explains how you can improve them. You also have the option to set the tone and the purpose of your writing so that it’s carefully contextualized for the type of written content you want to churn out. Grammarly is perfect for quickly editing copies, website content, and even emails. With Grammarly, you can rest assured your emails are typo-free and convey a clear message. You can use Grammarly as an online web app, a browser extension, as a Microsoft Office extension, as a separate desktop app, or as a mobile app.
Communication and Collaboration
Slack is a cloud-based collaboration platform where you and your team can communicate on projects. While it is mainly a chat platform, its integration capabilities make it a powerful tool for collaborative work. You can pull reports, share documents, start calls and even file tickets all within the platform by integrating all the necessary apps. Slack supports over 1,500+ integrations which makes it pretty flexible and adaptive to all the tools you’re currently using, instead of forcing you and your team to learn new apps altogether.
Having everything in one place is extremely beneficial for teamwork and staying on top of all deliverables. You can create a specific channel for a particular project to make sure your collaborative process is focused and involves just the relevant team members. Additionally, you are not limited to using it for internal processes only – you can also use it for sales and customer support. You can use Slack on your web browser, as a separate application on your computer, or as a mobile app when you’re on-the-go.
OneNote is a free information gathering tool where you can save all your ideas in one place. This tool enables users to organize, curate, and annotate freely, much like using a whiteboard online. Using OneNote, you can create freeform notes that can include text, tables, pictures, and even drawings. OneNote automatically saves your edits in real-time like Google Apps and also provides various sharing options for user collaboration.
It also offers a large number of integration features for other software products and business productivity tools. Thanks to integration platforms like Zapier and IFTTT (If This Then That), OneNote can be configured to work with third-party apps like Dropbox, Google Drive, Gmail and so on.
You can even integrate OneNote with Office Lens, another free business productivity tool. This enables you to capture photos of your documents that can then be saved as scanned files. By integrating Office Lens with OneNote, you’ll be able to quickly and easily build a database of searchable scanned files.
You can even convert scanned files into text documents for more manipulating capabilities in terms of record-keeping and archiving. You can also save transcriptions of your meetings in OneNote.
Making Your Tools Work Together
As mentioned earlier in this list, IFTTT provides integration features for lots of third-party business productivity applications and devices. You can use Alexa, a digital assistant program from Amazon, to set a reminder. Your reminders are automatically added to your task management lists in Wunderlist.
IFTTT is one of the all-time favorites of many entrepreneurs today. This is because it does more than just provide you with a set of business productivity-enhancing benefits. You can combine, test and optimize different applications and web tools to work together and provide you with seamless, automated functions that can help you better monitor, track and improve your business systems.
Keep these free business productivity tools in mind as you’re tweaking your back end workflow systems and front end customer-facing processes. You’ll also be able to discover new productivity solutions as you begin to use these tools and services for improving your team’s productivity and work efficiency.