TOP ONLINE TOOLS FOR BUSINESS
One of the great things about the web is the number of useful tools that can aid you in keeping track of all that you have to do and manage.
More importantly, many of these tools can be used to save time, increase productivity, and earn more money.
Perhaps the only downfall is the sheer number of tools that are available. It can be overwhelming.
Thankfully, I’ve done most of the work for you.
Below you’ll find a list of the absolute best online tools. That said, I’d still like to give a fair warning about this massive list of tools: look through them, pick a few that work for you, and ditch the rest.
You don’t need to use all of them. And you certainly don’t want to end up wasting time by using too many time–saving tools.
So without further adieu, here’s the list…
Table Of Contents
You can jump to any section by clicking the links below or just scroll down to view all of the online tools.
Project Management Tools
Time Management Tools
Social Media Tools
Browser Extensions and Addons
Project Management Tools
MindMeister allows your team to be more innovative by providing a shared collaboration and brainstorming environment using the proven mind mapping technique. Plan projects, manage meetings and sketch out business plans online with partners and colleagues, all in real time!
Freedcamp promises to be a free project management tool without restrictions on how many users or projects you can manage. Until now there haven’t been too many worthy competitors of 37signals’ Basecamp if you ask me, so it will be interested to see what Freedcamp will have to offer besides being free.
Campfire is like instant messaging, but designed exclusively for groups. Share text, files, and code in real time, and save transcripts so you don’t forget anything you covered. This is a product from 37signals, and while the fully featured version costs money, there is a free version available on the product page.
Backpack is an easy intranet for your business. Store, share, discuss, and archive everything that is essential for your team. Safe and secure. Backpack Pages are Backpack’s secret weapon. You can add any combination of notes, to–dos, files, photos, and dividers to a page. Pages just take seconds to create and can be used to organize, share, and discuss anything. This is a another product from 37signals, and while the fully featured version costs money, once again there is a free version on the product page.
Basecamp is the top choice for entrepreneurs, freelancers, small businesses, and groups inside big organizations. Basecamp tackles project management from an entirely different angle by focusing on communication and collaboration. Basecamp brings people together. This is also a product from 37signals, and while the fully featured version costs money, there is a free version on the product page.
Teamly is a tool used by hundreds of businesses and thousands of individuals to improve their performance in the workplace. Teamly aims to help people move beyond their mile–long to–do list and focus instead on what is truly important.
Evernote lets you capture ideas, images, or audio clips from your PC or phone, and then sync them to the cloud for easy retrieval and organization. It even works with handwritten notes, turning your chicken scratch into searchable text. Use it if you want a better way of saving all the information you come across.
8. Google Apps
Most of these really need no introduction, as you are probably already familiar with them. From messaging and task apps such as Gmail, Google Talk, Google Calendar to collaboration apps such as Google Docs, Google Sites, Google Reader — Google Apps is the go–to place for those looking to be productive.
9. Focus Booster
Going hand–in–hand with the Pomodoro Technique (check it out, it’s a killer technique for getting things done!), this is easily the best timer on the web for implementing said lifesaving productivity technique. Simple and great looking, with all of the necessary features, check out Focus Booster and find yourself being more productive in just 25 minutes!
10. Teux Deux
TeuxDeux is a simple, “designy” to–do app. If you like making to–do lists, you will love TeuxDeux. The idea was to build a bare bones, but visually compelling and highly usable to–do app. Use the free browser–based TeuxDeux at work and home, and then take your to–dos on the road with the iPhone app.
Toggl is a time tracking app which aims to help you track time with a single click, and to switch easily between different tasks and create reports so that you can get things done and turn that precious time into productive time.
RescueTime is a comprehensive web–based time management app. After an install, it gives you an amazing analysis of the time you spend on your computer everyday. It works in the background so it’s not reliant on you entering any data. You just need to install their app and it does the rest.
One of the better task managers out there, with benefits of being extremely simple and additional aspects that might aid you including it’s support for hierarchical lists and it’s cool keyboard shortcuts which let you edit tasks in a snap.
You are probably already familiar with this one, but I find it surprising that so many people ask about the student discount for Microsoft Office when they could be using OpenOffice for free! OpenOffice is promoted as being available in many languages, working on all common computers, storing data in an international open standard format and being able to read and write files from other common office software packages, as well as being available for download and use completely free of charge for any purpose.
15. WriteRoom (Mac)
The original Mac app for creating a full–screen writing space. While you may think you are staying productive in a more standard word processor such as Microsoft Word, wait until you have tried a full–screen writing app like WriteRoom. No distractions, no buttons to click on, and a blank page on which to spill your ideas.
16. DarkRoom (PC)
Basically, DarkRoom is a clone of the original WriteRoom that is an OS X exclusive application. It was a child of necessity, as there were no viable alternatives in Windows to produce the same behavior. The goal of the project is to capture the essence of WriteRoom, while keeping it simple and just as free.
17. Zen Writer
Not a fan of the Matrix looking DarkRoom or the pure white WriteRoom? Try Zen Writer, the full screen writing app which has a soft background, and can be accompanied by soothing music, typewriter noise, or no noise and distractions at all. Spell check, print from the screen, and save as multiple file types, this is one of the best free full–screen writing programs available, and I personally use it quite often to write great material without distractions.
18. Text Expander
Sick of typing the same thing over and over, especially in emails? Check out Text Expander, the awesome little tool that you can program to autofill and autocorrect to a variety of customizable templates, allowing you to send out emails that you send often in half the time, if not less.
19. Logline App
While it positions itself as an app for writing screenplays, I’ve found it is also extremely useful for anyone writing extremely long documents, such as an ebook. It lets you manage the structure of your writing into useful segments and gives a general overview of where the piece is going and how it is laid out, a much better solution than having a ton of Word or OpenOffice documents.
Time Management Tools
Helium is a dead simple task management tool to implement Getting Things Done (GTD) and Inbox Zero. Helium connects to your email (IMAP and Exchange) and Evernote to transform information you’re already processing into actions. Delegate tasks to anyone whether they use Helium or not.
Most of us have a lot of accounts (somewhat ironic that this list could create a few more?) so it is fitting that a number of password manager applications have come about. I would argue that none are more simple and effective than LastPass at keeping track of your passwords in a safe and secure fashion, while keeping them easy for you to access when needed.
22. Now Do This
A very minimal site that allows you to create a list of things to do, in order, and click off when you accomplish them. Ever come home to multiple objectives? Now Do This helps you tackle them one at a time and allow yourself to confirm when you are done, helping you stay focused on single objectives and putting your best work into every task.
23. Oh Don’t Forget
Text messages queued up with Oh Don’t Forget will be delivered at the date and time specified, unless you specify “now”, which will send the message instantly. Remind anyone about an event at a specific day and time queue up birthday reminders for the next several months have your to–do items sent to you throughout the day.
24. Remember The Milk
An always–on, always–available reminder system set for access from any online accessory. This is a great tool for personal productivity to supplement your team–based project management system. Definitely one of the more recognizable tools on this list, and now with it’s Gmail addon you can get even more use out of RTM!
Are you forgetful… or perhaps just super busy? BetterBuzzer helps you stay on top of important tasks by setting personalized reminder calls for yourself. They will keep calling you until you pick up. A message from their site: “We’re annoying like that. And you’ll love it!”
HiveDesk provides anyone with remote workers a platform that makes it easier manage the outsourcing process. Workers can check in remotely and HiveDesk will log their work sessions. Never worry about wasted time again!
DeskTime shows you who’s working and who’s not. It’s like Google Analytics for your employees. This can be especially useful for service business, as in reality your employees are your product, since they are the ones typically providing the service.
It’s been making waves recently for it’s simplicity and ease of use. DropBox allows you to set up a folder that you can drag and drop files to, which will then be automatically stored on your Dropbox. The cool part? You can access your dropbox from anywhere, and files stored in your dropbox become available from any medium that you’ve connected to the program, including other laptops, computers, and mobile devices.
Shoeboxed simplifies vital business tasks like expense reporting, accounting, tax prep and contact management. How? By digitizing your paper documents, unlocking the data trapped on them, and organizing everything neatly in your secure online account.
For a complete and free set of financial tools, try Mint. This fantastic money manager automatically syncs with your bank accounts, tracks your spending, and gives you detailed graphical reports that show you where your money comes from, where it’s going, and how you can save more.
StreamerApp is a hosted, highly customizable, do–it–yourself activity stream and dashboard giving you a quick and fancy look at all the business data that matter to you.
iPaper (from Scribd) hopes to eliminate the headache of different document formats on the Web. iPaper is a rich document format built for the web. Built with Adobe Flash, iPaper will display documents in the same way regardless of whether you’re using Windows, MacOS, or Linux. Your readers no longer have to download files or extra software to view your documents.
The one who remembers always has an edge. Whether you’re resolving a dispute or reaching out to clients, it pays to be prepared. Highrise keeps a log of notes so you can recall details from past conversations. Have the whole back story when you walk into a meeting. Highrise is like an always available cheat sheet. Once again, you can find free and paid versions on the product page.
ContactMe lets you consolidate all of your contacts and the business information that relates to each one into one convenient, online system. ContactMe keeps you on top of tasks, deadlines, details, correspondence, and appointments. Being organized has major benefits: you save time and effort and run a more professional and profitable business.
A free place to get legal documents and templates which can drastically help reduce your legal fees (and the time you spend creating the templates) and in some cases allow you to do some legal stuff yourself (although it is always advisable to consult an attorney for most things).
Social Media Tools
Bundlr lets you select the best content on the web into public theme pages. Cover real time breaking news, wrap up an event or research on your favorite topic. Using Bundlr, organizing the web is easy.
Timely helps you schedule tweets for maximum impact. What it does is analyze your past 199 tweets to figure out the best time slots. Timely then use this info to auto–schedule your tweets for prime timeslots, and it also learns as your followers grow!
Want to update your Twitter status as well as Facebook, LinkedIn and other sites all at the same time from one place? Ping is great for this. Ping has the ability to update over 40 different social networks. This is a major time saver!
Despite the ugly design, SocialOomph allows for some great social network automation, but don’t fear, I’m talking about the good kind. Instant thank you DMs to followers, instant follow–backs, and lots of other scheduling features, SocialOomph can save you a lot of time on Twitter.
The first part in a one–two punch for Twitter updates that you just have to check out. Tweriod allows for you to get a free, detailed report of when your followers are online the most, and when they are interacting with other tweets the most. Using this information, you can tell which are the best time periods in which to tweet, and send them out perfectly using…
…the BufferApp, the second part in the Tweriod/Buffer combo. After you’ve gotten your free report of when your Twitter followers are online, use Buffer to set up time periods in which your tweets will post every day, making sure they align with when your Twitter followers are online the most. This will maximize each tweet’s impact!
FullyFollow.me lets you connect your social profiles into one, and be followed across all of them with a single click. No more sharing of tons of social media accounts, share one link and let people fully follow you!
The big dog of social media (and recently acquire by Twitter), TweetDeck is your personal browser for staying in touch with what’s happening now, connecting you with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and more. With TweetDeck anyone can update like a Pro. Customize your Twitter/Facebook experience with columns, groups, saved searches and automatic updates helping you to effortlessly stay updated with the people and topics you care about.
Browser Extensions and Addons
Note: I’m a Chrome user, so most of these listed will be from Chrome, but they often have FireFox counterparts.
You sit down at the computer, and you swear you’ll be productive. Next thing you know, it’s two hours later. You’ve checked your email, updated your Facebook status, browsed the trending topics on Twitter, read your RSS feeds, looked up your favorite band on Wikipedia, but what you haven’t done is work. StayFocusd is a productivity extension on Chrome that helps with that by limiting the amount of time you can spend on time–wasting websites.
Readability is a web and mobile app that zaps online clutter and saves web articlesin a comfortable reading view. No matter where you are or what device you use, your reading will be there. Readability offers a new way to†compensate writers and publishers without punishing readers. 70% of all membership fees go directly to the people who make the content.
46. Hyperwords (Firefox) | Hyperwords (Chrome)
A powerful web tool. In a single click you can do a large number of options including: search on Amazon, Google, Wikipedia (customizable); share via Email, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress; convert currencies and other units; and even translate dozens of languages.
Todoist is a leading online task manager that’s useful, fast and easy to use. I love the simplicity of the interface, I feel that important to having a to–do list that you will actually use every day. They manage millions of to–dos and they are ready to manage yours as well!
48. Google Dictionary
Never spend another second looking up a new word again. Especially useful for reading articles associated with academia, as now you can simply double click a single word in the article and instantly get a definition.
Smartsheet’s online project management tool takes an easy to use spreadsheet to the next level with features such as a Gantt chart, dependencies, sub–tasks, and attachments and discussions on any row.
Beyond Web Conferencing: Vyew is a tool that allows you to meet and share information both in real time and continuously. Upload images, files, videos and more into Vyew, and Vyew will store the information in one Room that anyone can access and contribute to at anytime.
51. Lovely Charts
Most diagramming softwares require you to worry about things like choosing colors, drawing arrows, picking up the correct symbols, etc… All sort of things that get between your ideas and their representation. With Lovely Charts’s extremely simple and intuitive drag–and–drop drawing mechanism, you’re able to focus on what really matters. You won’t have to draw boxes or arrows, and you won’t have to worry about what symbol to use.
Ge.tt is a real-time file sharing service. No need to wait for files to upload. They are ready to be shared as soon as you select them! It really is that easy. It’s file sharing in an instant. Ge.tt is based solely on browser technologies and works directly in your browser. No flash required. No applet needed. No installation before you’re ready to go.
– Gregory Ciotti (passivepanda.com)