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10 Affordable Productivity Tools Every SMB Should Be Using


Written by

Tom Mortimer


15 MIN

10 Affordable Productivity Tools Every SMB Should Be Using

We know for SMBs so much of your working week is spent on fiddly tasks that take ages to do.

So we decided to speak to a number of SMB owners and employees about their biggest timesaps at work and what tools they’re using to streamline the more manual side of their business.

In each section, we’ll give a bit of a rundown of why the software’s so good, how much it costs (almost all of them come with a free trial or free option), how much time it’s likely to save you, and a quote from an SMB owner/employee about why they like it so much.

Quickbooks – Finance & Bookkeeping

“I used Quickbooks when I first started my company on the advice of an accountant friend who said I would be thankful I started tracking all of my finances come tax time, and he was absolutely right. 

“Startup businesses would do well not to neglect accounting software from the get-go, because expenses and revenue can become a nightmare to keep track of once your business really hits its stride.”

Trevor Larson, CEO at Nectar

Quickbooks has rapidly become the go-to place for SMBs and sole traders to manage their finances.

The reason is that it lets you manage pretty much anything from a financial perspective – expenses, payslips and pensions, taxes, while it also integrates with your bank and business apps.

For those who struggle with their bookkeeping or want an easier way to do it, this piece of software is a must.

Price: From $7.50 per month

Estimated Time Saving: 8 hours a month (per website)

HR Locker – Recruitment & HR

“The benefits of this product are amazing for me. I can now run reports at the touch of a button and don’t have to use lots of excel sheets, which I was previously using.  I love the help function. I could go on and on about my plans for the usage.”

Anita Walsh, Head of People at Ward Solutions

There are a lot of HR tools out there (we’ve been through a lot of them at Adzooma!), but from our experience nothing comes close to HR Locker.

From managing staff’s time to getting a handle on recruitment, HR Locker is a great all in one software.

HR fundamentals, recruitment and onboarding, staff development and happiness, performance management, and more, HR Locker has it all in its… locker (sorry).

Price: Free for > 4 employees per month, $3.50 per additional employee

Estimated Time Saving: 90% of your time (per website) – Project Management

“ is an incredibly effective tool that helps our team to streamline and tackle projects as they come. Their social media managing feature has been a game-changer for us!”

Christian Adams, Co-Founder at Coffee Affection

Whether you’re a plumbing business or a digital marketing business, managing your projects and tasks isn’t easy. 

But that’s where comes in, as it allows you to easily build, run and scale your workflows in one beautifully designed platform.

Project management platforms are another thing we’ve been through a lot at Adzooma, but is by far our favorite. That’s almost entirely down to the stunningly intuitive interface which almost makes project management seem fun (or at least a lot more fun than it used to be). 

Price: Free for up to 2 users. $8 per user after that

Estimated Time Saving: Not stated

Hubspot – Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

“Among all CRMs I have tried, HubSpot has a friendly user-interface that allows new users to easily navigate the software. 

“What I like most about it is how I can jump from creating a sales funnel to creating email campaigns and landing pages in a short amount of time. It is innovative, and just the right software SMBs need to grow their business.”

Nate Tsang, CEO of WallStreetZen

Hubspot is one of the most respectable software companies out there and for good reason, because the products they offer are nothing short of outstanding.

Live chat integrations, customer service ticketing software, email marketing templates, call recording; if you’re looking for a piece of software that can help with every touch point of your CRM journey then you can’t look beyond Hubspot.

From marketing to sales, operations to customer service, Hubspot has all the tools to help keep your current customers happy and get new ones through the door.

Price: Number of free tools. Bundles start from $45 per month

Estimated Time Saving: 250 hours a year (per case study)

Survey Sparrow – Experience Management 

“We have been very satisfied with SurveySparrow and their customer support. The survey platform has helped us to gather user feedback in a very efficient way and their customer support has been very helpful and fast with any questions or problems.”

Jaako Jalkanen, Business Manager at Brella

Now, compared to some of the others on this list Survey Sparrow may seem a little bit basic, but the word I’d use is specialist.

Because what Survey Sparrow concentrates on is delivering on customer feedback, and the way it does this is by making sure you can be present with your feedback across a whole range of touchpoints – email, QR code, web link, chatbots, embeds, SMS, etc.

We all know how important getting feedback is, whether it’s for your product/service, your website, your marketing, or for something else, Survey Sparrow does this better than anyone whether you’re looking for customer reviews or conducting consumer research.

Price: Free

Estimated Time Saving: Not stated

Shopify – eCommerce

“We’ve been able to build something in 3 years that a lot of brands haven’t actually gotten to in 10 years. 

“You don’t need to go into debt trying to launch your brand.”

Chimo Ngwudo, Owner of Cee Cee’s Closet

If you’re a company that sells products online then Shopify is your Holy Grail.

Why? Because it offers everything you need, from building your website to processing payments, from managing orders to marketing your business. And it makes all of this so easy too.

Shopify is King for eCommerce businesses, it’s used by nearly 2 million businesses worldwide and over $200 billion has been made in sales through the platform. Honestly, it’s just magnificent.  

Price: 14 day free trial, then from $29 per month 

Estimated Time Saving: Not stated

SEMrush – Digital Marketing

“I’m a small business owner, and SEMrush is what helps me compete with larger firms while sticking to my smaller budget. 

“I have a marketing background, so I want to handle as much in-house as I can, and SEMrush makes all of it easy, especially with all of the new features that are constantly being released.”

Bryce Walker, CEO of CPA Exam Guy

So far we’ve concentrated mostly on the day-to-day running of your business, but now I think it’s time to concentrate on the marketing. 

SEMrush is the ultimate platform for SMBs looking to take a data-led approach to their digital marketing because quite simply, it is a treasure trove full of data.

Whether you’re looking for how many people search for the products you sell on Google every month or you want to know how much search engine traffic your competitor is receiving, SEMrush will be on hand to help. Quite simply, it’s the ultimate tool to help you plan and monitor your online marketing strategy.

Price: Free Trial, then from $199.50 per month

Estimated Time Saving: Not stated

Adzooma – Paid Marketing

“Adzooma is a phenomenal platform that can really be able to save you time and resources, evaluate what is performing and what is not performing, giving you the right suggestions. 

“With the help of Adzooma, I feel like I have a team backing me to make educated decisions to build a strong campaign.”

Alejandra Perdomo, Digital Marketing Manager at Flooret

For those managing paid ads on Google, Microsoft, or Facebook, there is no time-saving platform out there like Adzooma.

Adzooma takes all the manual side out of paid ad management and turns all the overwhelming data into bite-size chunks of information – which you can then action with just a single click. Certain ads wasting money? Adzooma will tell you that and you can sort it out right away.

Adzooma has over 50+ single-click optimizations to help you with your day-to-day work, plus there’s in-built reporting, automation, and SEO capabilities built-in on top. Adzooma really is a no-brainer.

Price: Free

Estimated Time Saving: A day a week (per case study)

AWeber – Email Marketing

“I use Aweber for all my email marketing needs and refer it to all my clients and students. I love their customer support, the ease of using their drag and drop campaign builder, the unlimited emails and their deliverability rates.”

Trent Jessee, Founder of Watchman Advisors

Email Marketing is a crucial weapon in an SMB’s armory and is something that needs to be deployed with poise and quality. We’ve been through a lot of different email marketing platforms at Adzooma, and AWeber is definitely something to help you with both.

Drag and drop editor, pre-built templates, automation, sequences, sales tracking; AWeber contains everything you come to expect from an email marketing platform in 2021, but more than that, it also offers great landing page capabilities and a host of opportunities for ecommerce companies too.

For those looking to get into email marketing for the first time, or looking for an upgrade on their current platform, AWeber is the choice for you.

Price: Free for up to 500 subscribers, $26.15 per month up to 2,000

Estimated Time Saving: Not stated

Crowdfire – Social Media Management

“I have used Crowdfire since my initial days as a Digital Marketer. Since it is browser-friendly, it is possible to track all the social media mentions and manage posts from the browser itself. 

“It also offers automatic analytics updates weekly which is useful in understanding the social media audience reach and compare it across the platforms. Crowdfire doesn’t have any content limitations, unlike other social media management tools.”

Nathan Hughes, SEO Manager at Diggity Marketing

In 2021, it’s crucially important to have a presence on social media. Even if you’re not super busy, it does a lot for your credibility just to have a profile to make you look legitimate.

But social media management can be a timesap, so that’s why using something like Crowdfire is great because it allows you to manage your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram pages all from the same place. 

From there you can also schedule posts, receive recommended content to post, analyze your competitors, and more. It’s a great way to make social media management a breeze.

Price: Free

Estimated Time Saving: 30 minutes a day (per case study)

Why Productivity Tools?

Productivity tools come in all shapes and sizes, and what’s great about most on this list is that they almost always come with a free trial or freemium option.

Now, tech truly is starting to really take over – from the stock market to how we spend our downtime – it means that the tools that are becoming accessible to SMBs are just getting better and better.

The technology is being taken to new heights, and that’s what you see with the tools on this list. From helping your day-to-day project management to helping you manage your paid advertising, every single part of your working life can be transformed by productivity tools.

Try them out, if they’re not for you, they’re not for you. 

But with more tools popping every single day, there’s definitely going to be a tool that will solve a huge problem for you in the future.

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