Growing a startup is not easy. Keeping cost low is often one of the goals for small startups to survive. But to grow your business and enhance productivity, investing money in adopting the right tools can often save you more costs than the price of the tools themselves.
There are a lot of tools on that market that offer a free plan or affordable pricing that are suitable for small startups. In this article, we will share 30+ best tools for startups in different categories:
Project Management Tools
Documentation / Knowledge Management Tools
Team Culture / Team Building Tools
Holiday Management Tools
Automatic Daily Startup and Status Report Tools
Customer Success Tools
Product / Design Tools
Expense management tools
#1 Best communication tools for startups
Communication tools that startups often use include instant messaging and video conferencing tools. Instant chat tools are great for quick updates and small questions but for more complex issues, jumping on a video call is often a more effective way. Video conferencing tools are also very useful in conducting client meetings when the use base of your startup is global.
Slack is our favorite tool for instant messaging. Using Slack, you can create channels to group discussions on different topics. Slack offers an extensive Slack App Directory where you can easily connect Slack with tools that your startup already use in your daily workflow or add extra functions to help you use Slack in a more productivity way. The free plan pretty much covers all the things a startup needs, just that the free plan only has limited history and can install up to 10 apps max.
Pricing: Freemium with plans starting from $6.67/month per user
Zoom is one of the most popular web conferencing tools on the market. Using Zoom, you can easily start an online meeting or webinar with good video/audio quality and screen sharing function. One handy feature of Zoom is that you cna create recurring meetings with the same URL, which is very useful for hosting internal team meetings for your startup.
The free plan covers the basic needs that you need to do a video call. But group calls are limited to 40 minutes for the free plan.
Pricing: Freemium with plans starting from $14.99/month per host
If you are looking for a completely free option for video call, Google Meet is a great choice as well. Using Google Meet, you can safely create and join high-quality video meetings for groups of up to 250 people. You can also view and present in live-streamed events that include up to 100,000 in-domain viewers
#2 Best project management startup tools
Using a project management tool to organize and track progresses of projects and tasks is very helpful to enhance the productivity of your startup because at the early stages, when you are still trying to find product market fit, it’s likely that there can be numerous changes to your priorities and task arrangements. Without a right tool, things can get very messy and your teammates may find it hard to keep track of what needs to be done and the progress.
Trello is a Kanban-style list making tools that are helpful in project or task management. You can create boards, lists, and cards with labels, checklists and due dates to organize your team’s projects and tasks and simply drag and drop them to track progresses. There are also a lot of Power-ups (essentially apps for Trello) that you can add to Trello to supercharge its already amazing functions.
The free plan is adequate for most small startup needs but is limited to 10 team boards and 1 Power-Up per board.
Pricing: Freemium with plans starting from $9.99 per user per month
Asana is another very popular project management tools among startups. Using Asana, you can organize your projects and tasks in one shared space and switch between list, kanban board and calendar views easily.
Its free plan covers most small startups’ needs and can have up to 15 teammates.
Pricing: Freemium with plans starting from $10.99 per user per month
#3 Best documentation / knowledge management tools for startups
Knowledge management tools help teams better organize useful team knowledge such as frequently asked questions, workflow guidelines and other important information in a centralized hub so teammates can access important info quickly when they need them.
When choosing an internal knowledge management tool for your startup, look for tools that integrate well with other tools your team already uses, offer a powerful search, good collaborative features and built-in workflows to ensure content accuracy and freshness.
Benefits of investing in knowledge management tools:
Speed up onboarding
Enhance team productivity
Standardize workflows and share learnings among teams
Reduce repeated questions and mistakes in your team
Kipwise is a knowledge management tool that helps teams build up their company knowledge hub easily. It offers powerful Slack integration, browser extensions and is integrated with Google Drive, Trello, Airtable and more, so you can save and retrieve team knowledge easily, wherever you need them.
Some key features that help teams enable better internal knowledge flow:
Powerful Slack integration - Handy slash command and Slack Actions to create and search for team knowledge. You simply don’t have to leave Slack to build up your knowledge base.
Real-time collaborative editor - With rich embedding options, your team can edit the same doc at the same time and create visually appealing documentation easily.
Content review process - Set designated reviewers for your collections to ensure content is always up-to-date and accurate.
Pricing: Starting from $16/month for 10 users
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As startup founders or customer-facing roles, it’s likely that you have to schedule quite a lot of meetings with different stakeholders like investors, prospects and customers. Instead of needing to send back and forth emails to schedule a time, using a scheduling tool can help you save a whole lot of time and also increase conversion rate as booking a meeting has become much easier and hassle free for your prospects and customers as well.
Using Calendly, you can set specific time that you are available (or simply link your Calendar to block off unavailable time slots) and allow people to make a booking with you easily. Other than sharing your Calendly booking link, you can also embed the Calendly booking form in your website directly for prospects to book a timeslot with you or sales team directly.
Pricing: Freemium with plans starting from $8/month per user
YouCanBook.me is another popular online appointments booking system among startups. It works well with Google, iCloud and Microsoft cloud calendars. Simply link your calendar and your customers can make a booking directly into your calendar and they will automatically get their notifications, calendar invites and reminders, etc.
Pricing: Freemium with plans starting from $10/month per user
#5 Best team culture / team building tools for startups
Most startups are still operating in small teams and busy focusing on product building and customer acquisition. It’s easy for startup founders to overlook the importance of building the team culture that they would like to see in the team that will help the company grow in a healthy way. Below are some tools that can help shape the team to live the values that you care and build a team that can work cohesively together.
With Disco, you can easily send appreciation to teammates directly via your company chat tool like Slack. This way, you can shape your team culture by recognizing teammates in real-time when they live your values. Disco also provides leaderboards so you can formalize recognition by rewarding your team superstars every month or quarter.
Pricing: Pricing starting from $3/month per user (they are currently having a 50% off discount in light of the Coronavirus, so starting from $1.5/month per user)
Donut helps your team members get to know each other better, across departments, office locations and continents - a particular useful tool if your startup works remotely (read more tips about remote work). Donut introduces people who don’t know each other well on teams of all sizes via direct message, and encourages them to meet in person or virtually for a variety of programmes. You can also use Donut to welcome new hires, and introduce them to onboarding buddies or other teammates.
Pricing: Freemium with plans starting from $49/month for 49 users
#6 Best holiday management tools for startups
Even if your startup is small, having a proper procedure on leave management is important in keeping productivity high. With proper vacation management, your team can plan ahead when employees need to take some time off and ensure your tight deadlines won’t be missed. This is particularly crucial for remote teams as teammates are not based in the same office so sometimes it’s hard for them to know who’s out of office on a particular day and might not be responding to their requests.
Absence.io helps you manage team absences like vacations or sick leaves with ease. With its Slack integration, managers can decline or accept absence requests directly within Slack and teammates can see current and future absences easily with using Slack slash commands.
Pricing: Starting from €1.5 per month per user
Timetastic is another great holiday management tool that can be easily integrated into Slack to help your team prepare for a teammates’s absence in advance. With Timetastic, you can basically manage the entire “taking time off” process directly on Slack. Best for startups that want to avoid the paperwork that comes with planning a few days off for a teammate.
Pricing: Starting from $1 per month per user
#7 Best automatic daily standup / status report tools for startups
Status Hero is a lightweight tool for tracking daily goals, activity logs from your tools, and status updates from your team, all in one place. It makes checking in within a team and collecting daily goals easier. With Status Hero, your teammates will be prompted to check in and give a brief update on their progress to the rest of the team. Then Status Hero will combine the daily check-in with data from connected project management tools such as GitHub, Trello and Jira and create status reports to be sent to the team.
Pricing: Starting from $3 per month per user
Standuply helps to automate most common Agile processes via Slack, including standup meetings, retrospective meetings, team motivation check-up, etc. You can integrate Standuply with tools like JIRA and GitHub to build Agile charts and run complex processes, such as backlog grooming, planning poker, and more.
Pricing: Freemium with plans starting from $5 per month for 3 users
#8 Best marketing tools for small startups
Buffer is a social media management platform that can help you save a lot of time by allowing you to manage all your social media accounts in one place. Using Buffer, you can schedule posts to share in multiple social media accounts in one go and track the performance of your content.
Pricing: Freemium with plans starting from $15 per month for 8 social accounts
SEMrush is a popular SEO tool that specializes in keyword research, backlink analysis, competitor analytics, Google Ad optimization and more. A very useful and comprehensive tool if you are looking to grow the traffic of your website.
Pricing: Freemium with plans starting from $99.95 per month
#9 Best sales tools for small startups
If you are looking to do outbound sales, Apollo is a handy tool to help you find verified email addresses and phone numbers of the prospects that you would like to reach out to. Its data base has over 200M business contacts and 10M companies, and you can set up your own filters to target your ideal buyers.
Currently, its free plan allows you to get 150 verified emails per month for free.
Pricing: Freemium with plans starting from $19 per month per user
Yesware is a very useful email tool for sales people. Using Yesware, you can track emails, create templates, set up personalized email sequences and schedule meetings easily. A great tool to help your sales close deals faster.
Pricing: Plans starting from $14 per user per month
Close is a CRM built for sales teams. Every touchpoint with a lead is automatically tracked in a visual timeline so it’s easy for your teammates to keep track on the stages of the lead and all the data are very useful for handover as the lead move along different stages.
Pricing: Plans starting from $21.25 per user per month
#10 Best customer success tools for startups
With Intercom, you can build better customer relationships through personalized, messenger-based experiences across the customer journey. Using Intercom, you can talk to your leads and customers almost anywhere: on your website, directly in your app, on mobile and via email. Some of our favorite features include event triggered emails, in-app messages product tour and drip campaigns.
FullStory is platform that helps you understand better how prospects and customers are interacting with your website and product through useful analytics such as heatmaps, conversion analysis, user session recordings, etc., which is a very useful tool across product, marketing and support teams.
Figma is a cloud-based design tool that is similar to Sketch, but with a lot more functionalities and features that makes it much better for team collaboration. Because Figma is browser-based, your team can collaborate in real-time just like Google Docs. Figma supports in-app commenting so it’s great for design review feedback. Figma also also great Slack integration, so it’s easy to track progress and updates via Slack.
Pricing: Freemium with plans starting from $12 per editor per month
Productboard is a product management system that helps your team understand what users need, prioritize what to build, and rally everyone around your roadmap. It has great integration with customer support tools like Intercom so you can consolidate customer feedback easily, and use its build-in features to help you better prioritize what to build next, share your roadmap with your team and monitor progress towards launch.
Pricing: Plans starting from $49 per maker per month
Visme is a visual content creation platform perfect for startups who need to design all of their branded assets, marketing materials, sales presentations and more all in one place. Store your logo, brand fonts and colors, templates and more in Visme's digital asset manager. Access thousands of professionally designed templates, stock photos, icons and illustrations, data visualization tools and tons of other design elements that you can use to spice up your creations.
Pricing: Create an account for free, with premium plans starting at $19/mo, paid annually.
#11 Best expense management tools for startups
Fyle is an expense management software that can help automate mundane, repetitive expense reporting, tracking, and management tasks. It comes with a receipt scanning feature that can extract crucial information from paper and digital receipts. The tool ensures the receipt is attached to the digital expense report and runs a real-time audit check before the employee submits it. This ensures no error or out-of-policy expenses get by and are curbed right from the start. The expense tool also helps finance teams automate tedious, manual credit card reconciliation processes by reconciling credit card transactions, expenses, and receipts with a tap. In addition, you can seamlessly integrate the tool with your existing accounting software for easy data migration and uniformity.
Pricing: Fyle's Standard plan starts at $4.99 per month, Business at $8.99 per month, and custom pricing for Enterprise and bills only for users who create at least one expense report in a month