Useful tech

Useful tech
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Many small business owners are excellent multitaskers with full schedules, so it's no wonder they gravitate toward organizational tools that make juggling different duties simple. We asked entrepreneurs which productivity and task management tech tools they couldn't live without. The most frequently recommended were Asana, Basecamp, focus@will, Trello and Zapier.

Asana

Asana
Asana was highly recommended by multiple founders of startup companies, especially marketing and PR firms. A robust planning and project management tool, Asana offers users a visually appealing dashboard where they can access tasks, conversations and projects. Users can also create and assign tasks (with due dates) and manage workflows through Asana. There is a free version for basic features for up to 15 team members, or you can opt for the Premium version for $9.99 per month per user.

Small business owners appreciate that Asana streamlines the project management process. Britney Kolodziej, the owner and CEO of JAM Marketing Group said, "I find the app cuts down on email between both clients and team members, and there's never a question about what and when things need to be done and who needs to do them. It's a total lifesaver for my small business."

Basecamp

Basecamp
Basecamp was also a popular pick among small business owners, especially those who work collaboratively as part of a team. The goal of this online tool is to consolidate everything (emails, files, project deadlines, assignments, etc.) and eliminate confusion and unnecessary email volleying. There's a free version for teachers and students, or you can opt for a business account for $999 per year.

Jessica Postiglione, the CEO and co-founder of OLIKA, a company that makes and sells personal care products, is just one of many small business owners who uses Basecamp to unite her team's focus. She said, "Our team loves Basecamp. We use it to streamline projects and organize conversations and tasks."

focus@will

focus@will
While it's not a traditional productivity tool, many business folks mentioned using focus@will. This app (Android, iOS, Mac or online) claims to provide "scientifically engineered music proven to increase focus and reduce distractions." The subscription-based service costs $9.95 per month and gives you access to more than 50 channels of music with names such as Alpha Chill or Einstein's Genius. The company says different channels work for different people, depending on personality type.

Trello

Trello
The single most frequently recommended task management tool by small business owners was Trello. The decision-makers we spoke to said they loved Trello because of its project management dashboard, the board function for remote collaboration, workflow-building capabilities and easy app integration. Words like intuitive and uncomplicated were used a lot, and several entrepreneurs pointed out that Trello is free for small teams, which is a boon for startups on a tight budget. It's available on iOS, Android or online. The Business Class upgrade costs $9.99 per user per month up to 100 people.

Zapier

Zapier
While less well known than some of the other productivity tools on this list, Zapier was recommended by several very diverse business owners, including the owner of a record label, the founder of a data analysis company, a web strategist and the founder/CEO of a budgeting software company. Zapier helps business owners improve productivity by integrating web apps (with no coding required) such as Gmail, Trello, Asana, Facebook Pages, MailChimp, etc.

Nearly all the Zapier users we talked to mentioned that the system was a huge timesaver and required very little interaction after the initial setup. Sara Hewitson, the community and marketing manager for neatly.io said, "My favorite tool has to be the one that surprisingly I use the least. Zapier allows me to connect tools that don't yet or won't ever have integrations with one another so that everything runs smoothly … It can take minutes to set up, and then you never have to revisit it again – a great 'invisible' app." It's free for basic task automation; there are more features in the Premium version that start at $20 per month.