Business Productivity Software Keeps SMBs on Track

By Julie Knudson | Posted June 09, 2016

As a busy, time-strapped entrepreneur, you need to make the most of every hour in your day. That's why business productivity software tools are so important. They can help you get more done more quickly, so you can spend more of your time focused on growing your business and your bottom line.

In this article, we look at five budget-friendly business productivity software tools designed to streamline tasks, increase efficiency, and meet the needs of busy business owners.

1. Pocket

Small business owners often struggle to keep up with all the information that flows past them on any given day. If that describes you, then consider Pocket, a free business productivity software tool that's designed to streamline and manage all that data.

The Pocket productivity platform provides one place where you can save articles, reviews, photos, recipes, and other information you find on the Internet. Too busy to read about the latest tech innovation right now? No problem. Save it to Pocket and peruse it later at your convenience—whether you're on an airplane or sitting in your backyard.

Business productivity software

View your Pocket library from any device.

You can save online articles and other Web page information straight from your browser (Windows, FireFox, Google Chrome, Opera or Safari), or use the Pocket application on iOS and Android devices, or on Kindle Fire. Pocket even integrates with many popular apps (the company claims more than 1,500) like Twitter, Flipboard, and Zite, which makes moving information into an easy-to-read format a snap.

Pocket's ad-sponsored version is free, or you can upgrade to the Premium version. That lets you dump the ads and tap into additional features such as a Permanent Library (access to saved articles and Web pages even if they change or removed from the Web), Full-Text Search, and Suggested Tags. If you own an iOS device, you can customize the Premium reading experience with adjustable text layout and font options.

Upgrading to the Premium version costs $4.99 per month or $44.99 per year.

2. Manifestly

Where would an enterprising small business owner be without a checklist or two…dozen? Checklists are everywhere and they proliferate faster than rabbits, which makes managing them both a necessity and a challenge. That's where a business productivity software tool like Manifestly can help.

Manifestly business productivity software

Manifestly generates reports that help you keep everyone on track.

Whether you use checklists to complete multi-product orders or to track outstanding tasks, Manifestly gives small businesses a simple, efficient way to maintain checklists across multiple people and multiple uses. Team members can make comments within each checklist to facilitate communication and collaboration—and to ensure that nothing gets lost along the way. You can also include vendors and other outside partners in your business’s checklist activities.

Weekly reports help you keep everyone on track, and you can receive automatic notifications–for example when a checklist is late or as a reminder to start a scheduled checklist. Manifestly is web-based business productivity software—no download required—and it integrates with a number of other popular cloud-based platforms, including SalesForce and GitHub.

A 30-day free trial lets you try the platform to see whether it suits your needs. After that, pricing starts at $9 per month per person.

3. XMind

If you've never used—or even heard of—mind-maps, get ready to explore the extensive benefits this kind of business productivity software offers. Mind-mapping gives small business owners an efficient way to record thoughts and ideas in a useful format for further development or action.

XMind business productivity software

XMind's Timeline feature lets you list events in chronological order.

XMind includes a suite of features designed to make knowledge transfer fast, easy, and flexible. Add attachments and comments to mind maps, even create information cards where you can show or hide details according to your needs. You can format mind maps in multiple ways—such as timelines and Gantt charts to name but two—which lets you and your team brainstorm using the methods that suit you best. You can print mind-map outlines or export them as PDFs, Word documents, or as text.

XMind supports Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. You can also download the program to a thumb drive if you want to take it with you. Use the basic features in XMind for free or upgrade to XMind Plus ($79) or XMind Pro ($129) and receive additional export capabilities, presentation mode, and more.

4. Cometdocs

Tired of retyping figures and text from pages-long PDF documents? Consider adding Cometdocs to your business productivity software arsenal.

CometDocs business productivity software

Cometdocs converts PDFs into just about any file format you need.

Cometdocs document conversion software lets you turn PDF documents into a number of other formats, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and even AutoCAD. Conversions are clean and suitable for reuse, additional editing, sharing—you name it. The platform can also convert from scanned PDFs, which provides increased flexibility for people who may not have the original digital file available.

Cometdocs offers one-click document conversion from your desktop, or you can use the company's suite of Android and iOS mobile apps. Like most business productivity software these days, Cometdocs offers both a free and a premium, for-fee version.

The premium version offers additional features and increased storage; monthly, semi-annual, and annual subscription levels start at slightly less than $6 per month. The company also offers a lifetime plan for a one-time charge.

5. Dia

Charting the stages of your next project doesn’t have to be a chore if you have the right business productivity software tool at your fingertips. Case in point, the Dia diagram editor can help you create diagrams and flow charts quickly and easily—with great-looking results.

Dia business productivity software

Create high-quality diagrams and flow charts quickly and easily with Dia.

Dia offers powerful features, including a wide array of line weights, colors, and shapes, plus symbols from professional disciplines such as chemical engineering, electrical, HVAC, and others.

The software creates extremely flexible files, which gives you the option to assign various components to separate layers. You can toggle those layers on or off depending on which elements you need for a particular diagram. Gridlines offer helpful reference points to ensure that the final product is as uniform (or as free-flowing) as you need.

Dia doesn’t cost a thing to download and use, and it supports several versions of Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

[Get even MORE productive: 50 Productivity Tips By and For Small Business Owners]

Julie Knudson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in technology magazines including BizTech, Processor, and For The Record. She has covered technology issues for publications in other industries, from food service to insurance, and she also writes a recurring column in Integrated Systems Contractormagazine.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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