Entrepreneurs have a knack for creative solutions. And while that trait will take you far as a founder, there are aspects of running a business that shouldn’t require a majority of your time and ingenuity.
There’s a whole world of software and tools that help businesses and teams run effectively. And while software can be expensive, the SOAR Innovation team has identified 14 free productivity tools that will save you time and money.
Free productivity tools
Productivity tools help teams collaborate and do their best work. Businesses that use technology to make processes more efficient and clear can count on stronger outcomes.
For example, say a manager wants oversight into their team’s work but doesn’t want to sink lots of repeat hours into the process. They should implement task management software into their operational culture to promote transparency, accountability, and consistency.
The following productivity tools are SOAR Innovation’s top picks for growing businesses in Eastern Kentucky.
What is Airtable? Airtable provides robust project and task management software that serves a variety of business needs.
What makes Airtable different? It offers automated processes and dashboards for advanced use cases and complex e-commerce operations.
What is Slack? Slack is a team chat platform that enables easy communication between remote, in-office, and hybrid teams. It works seamlessly across desktop, web, and mobile applications.
What makes Slack different? Slack allows you to organize conversations by topics or groups, which is useful when team members are handling more than one project at once. It’s also an effective tool to collaborate with vendors, third parties, and volunteers for free.
What is Calendly? Calendly’s meeting scheduler helps you get rid of those tedious back-and-forth email exchanges about scheduling time to meet.
What makes Calendly different? It allows you to share your availability through a link, sets limits and rules for how and when people can book time with you, and issues a calendar invite through the platform of your choice.
What is Loom? Loom is a screenshare recording tool perfect for that middle ground where the topic doesn’t quite warrant a call — but is still too complex for email.
What makes Loom different? Loom reduces the number of meetings on your calendar. By merging on-screen visual cues with your narration about what changes you’re looking for, it’s an excellent tool for delivering feedback.
What is Trello? Trello is a Kanban-style project management tool that uses drag-and-drop columns to visualize in-process project statuses.
What makes Trello different? Its layout supports prioritization, accountability, and timeline management, especially for visual learners.
What is Notion? Notion is a convenient note-taking platform.
What makes Notion different? In addition to note-taking, Notion also provides workspace and project management tools for scheduling tasks, organizing documents, and managing team schedules.
What is Zoho? Zoho offers a suite of office productivity software comparable to Microsoft or Google products, including word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and calendars.
What makes Zoho different? Zoho offers a free version of its customer relationship management (CRM) platform for sales teams.
What is Grammarly? Grammarly helps you become a better writer. It identifies errors and suggests corrections as you type. You can also paste documents into its web application for a more thorough review.
What makes Grammarly different? Grammarly goes way beyond your word processor’s typical spell-check function. It reviews documents based on the criteria you select: whether they should come off as casual or formal, advanced or easy-to-understand, and more.
What is Hunter? Hunter locates the contact information for sales prospects or potential partners. Use it to find email addresses quickly based on a company domain name.
What makes Hunter different? Sales prospecting tools are pricey — in some cases, it takes a 4- or 5-figure contract to access this type of functionality. Hunter offers 25 free monthly searches for teams that are just starting out.
Free marketing productivity tools
Marketing is a cost center for your business. But your marketing productivity tools don’t have to break the bank.
The following 5 marketing tools lead the industry with their best-in-class features — and offer free or low-cost subscription plans.
What is Canva? Canva is a rising star in the graphic design software industry. It makes branding and design approachable tasks for those without formal training.
What makes Canva different? Use Canva to create graphics for social media, presentation decks, reusable templates, logos, and much more. It also provides a number of free, pre-designed graphics, icons, and shapes for a leg-up on your own designs.
What is Mailchimp? Mailchimp has been our email marketing platform of choice for as long as we can remember.
What makes Mailchimp different? It provides drag-and-drop design templates, easy settings, and straightforward list management. The free plan allows you to send up to 10,000 emails per month and 2,000 per day, which is hard to find elsewhere with the same level of customization and features.
What is WordPress? WordPress is a global leader in website content management. It provides an easy-to-use system for SEO-friendly websites, whether a simple one-page site or a complex e-commerce platform.
What makes WordPress different? WordPress offers several themes to choose from if you don’t want to design from scratch.
What is Hootsuite? Hootsuite is one of the original social media platforms. It helps users schedule and manage social media content, track hashtags, and manage conversations with audiences.
What makes HootSuite different? Hootsuite’s limited free plan connects 2 social accounts and permits 5 scheduled posts. This might not be enough for the long term, but it’s enough to get you started with developing a semi-regular social presence.
What is Google Analytics? Google Analytics helps website owners understand who visitors are, where they came from, and how the site is performing. It’s an essential free tool that every business needs to take advantage of.
What makes Google Analytics different? Nothing else on the market quite compares to the capabilities of Google Analytics. SOAR Innovation can help you set it up as one of our free direct services.
Direct services available through SOAR Innovation
SOAR Innovation offers 6 free direct services to help entrepreneurs tackle business essentials.
No matter your age or experience level, these services are available to entrepreneurs throughout SOAR Innovation’s 54 counties in Eastern Kentucky:
- Business planning
- One-page website
- Google services
- Digital media
- Systems for success
Reach out today to learn more about SOAR Innovation’s direct services.
Conclusion: Grow your Eastern Kentucky small business
SOAR Innovation — powered by KY Innovation — is committed to helping Eastern Kentucky entrepreneurs succeed.
Contact us today to request a meeting with a SOAR Innovation representative. We’ll connect you to the assistance that’ll best meet your needs. Whether that’s direct services, downloadable resources, or making connections in the entrepreneurship space, we’re here for you.
The CORI Mentor Network and CO.STARTERS accelerator program are valuable opportunities for our network of small business owners. If you’re interested, please apply today.