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March 12, 2014

Top Eight Business Tools for a Productive 2014

In a challenging economy, businesses need to be as efficient, productive, and nimble as possible. These top business tools allow small companies to manage their time, teams and online visibility as effectively as a large firm. Most productivity tools are developed for various platforms, such as a Windows desktop, a Windows 8 touch tablet, Android devices, or iOS computers or mobile devices.

Time is a precious resource to each business. Instead of wasting productive time trying to stay organized, consider these top tools to streamline your business.

1. Update Social Media Statuses with Buffer for Business

Buffer streamlines your social media posts by sending updates to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter,, and Google+. Buffer also uses analytic tools to optimize your publishing times to determine which posts are best received by your audience. Businesses with a regular, but not overwhelming, social media presence can use this tool to supplement their other marketing initiatives.

2. Track Your Brand with Mention

Once you expand your brand visibility on the Web, it’s important to keep track of what is being said, when it is said, and by whom it is said. Mention is a tool that gathers data about when and where your brand name or other keywords appear on blogs, social media networks, user forums, and so on. One of the features allows you to respond to questions or comments, as well as to update company or industry news. By receiving keyword mentions in real time, you can analyze online reaction to product launches and features. Mention also allows you to detect and manage any issues that should be addressed before they get away from you. This tool is downloadable for desktops, Chrome, Android, and iOS.

3. Organize Your Workflow with Trello

This user-friendly organizational tool can be used solo or collaboratively with a team. Virtual, customizable cards can track your ideas, to-do list, current action list and completed projects. Progress meters allow you to track each task at a glance, and cards can be color-coded and filtered as needed. As a deadline approaches, it turns yellow to nudge you, and you can also review completed tasks. Trello can be downloaded for Web browser, Windows 8 tablet, Android, iPad, and iPhone.

4. Organize e-Meetings with UberConference

Web conferencing allows you to use teleconferencing to cut office phone bills. UberConference improves the user experience by eliminating the need for PINs, access codes and voice-only communication. You can use video conferencing to enhance interaction among participants by allowing each caller to see the others’ visual cues. UberConference can handle up to 100 callers, manage document sharing, and record your calls to an easily shared MP3 file.

5. Annotate and Share Screenshots with Skitch

This simple-to-use tool from document sharing company Evernote allows you to annotate screen captures on a computer, tablet, or mobile device. Arrows, sketch tools, and other shapes are available to communicate an idea on the screen cap without using a lot of text. Downloads are available for: Windows desktop, Windows 8 Touch, Mac OS X, as well as Android and Apple iOS devices. Skitch allows you to move projects between devices.

6. Share and Edit Documents with Hackpad

This collaborative document tool allows you to create, edit and share documents with your team. The team-editing function of Hackpad allows each participant to view and edit a document. Users can subscribe to a weekly email digest that summarizes new Hackpad documents and includes links to each one. Hackpad offers a free 30-day trial.

7. Boost Your Content with Feedly

Once you decide to share valuable content with your audience, it is important to keep it fresh and relevant. Feedly is a simple-to-use tool that can supplement your RSS feeds. You can enter any number of topics into Feedly, which delivers relevant content to your application. In addition, it includes popular subjects on a sidebar to jog your memory or inspire you to look beyond your current topics. These subjects include business, news, fashion and tech information. Additionally, you can track new content on various video sites such as YouTube, Vimeo and Hulu.

8. Refine Your Twitter Follower Analysis with Followerwonk

Twitter is a powerful tool to reach a wide audience quickly without drawing them to your own site first. Followerwonk funnels your follower demographics into categories you can use to reach them more effectively. One category analyzes when your followers are active online; this helps you time your tweets more precisely. Tweeting about a new release six hours after your prime demo is online results in missed opportunities.

Small businesses, and even one-person companies, have access to a powerful palette of online tools that enable them to compete with the organizational capabilities of larger firms. These top business tools allow you to communicate easily and effectively with a remote team, clients, colleagues, and vendors without the awkwardness of traditional conference calls. Other tools to advance your business goals include time and task organization, document sharing, online content searches, and social media analysis.