Kelly—CEO of Treefrog Marketing—shares seven ways to serve your team well outside of benefits packages on “Priority Pursuit”.
Episode 146: 7 Ways to Serve Your Team Well Outside of Benefit Packages
May 28, 2024
Victoria Rayburn explains why every small business owner needs a personal brand.
Episode 147: Why Every Small Business Owner Needs a Personal Brand & How to Build Yours
June 4, 2024

June 1, 2024

8 Must-Have Tools for Small Businesses

Whether you just started a small business or you’re looking to scale your operations, having the right arsenal of tools can make all the difference in streamlining processes, boosting productivity, and—ultimately—driving success. 

If you want to take your business to the next level, you need these eight must-have tools for small businesses.

Project Management Software

No matter what product or service your small business provides, a project management system can prevent you from dropping the ball or from overpromising and underdelivering.

This tool keeps all of your tasks and processes in one place, so you can easily keep track of all the elements you need to complete your projects—like staff hours, deliverables, timelines, key stakeholders, and more.

For example, at Treefrog, we use ClickUp. ClickUp is a project management system that allows team members to track their progress on projects, connect with other team members, track how much time a project takes, and more. It gives us a comprehensive picture of our workload, so we’re able to maintain an efficient workflow without forgetting key elements.

We love ClickUp for small businesses because it can be as simple or robust as you need it to be. Because of this, it grows with your business and continues to fit your needs even as they change. If you’re looking for a project management system, we highly recommend  ClickUp.

Automation Softwares

Automation is a game-changer for small businesses. Automation software allows you to automate repetitive tasks, streamline workflows, and free up valuable time and resources. 

With software like Zapier, you can automate workflows across different platforms. For example, imagine you have a form on your website that prospects can fill out. You can use Zapier to create automations that add these prospects to your contact list or even add tasks or to-dos directly to your project management system. This software connects your tools and keeps things running smoothly so you don’t have to manage every little step. 

Likewise, ManyChat automates communications on social media so you can promptly respond to comments and DMs, answer your customers’ questions, resolve issues, or nurture and create leads—all without having to lift a finger.

Between different softwares and AI, the automation possibilities are so extensive that they seem endless and can get overwhelming. But, even some simple automations can help make your business exponentially more efficient. 

And, while Zapier and ManyChat are two of our favorite automation tools, there are so many other softwares—including some of the other tools mentioned in this blog and programs you may already be using—that offer automation. 

To help streamline your processes and save time, be sure to look at automation options within any tools you already use and research other potentially helpful programs—especially if you have repetitive tasks that tend to eat up your and your team’s time. 

Whether it's automating email marketing campaigns, scheduling social media posts, or managing inventory, automation tools enable you to focus on high-value activities that drive growth.

Client Relationship Management (CRM) System

In order to have a successful business, you need to be developing and maintaining relationships with your clients. Thankfully, a client relationship management (CRM) system can help simplify the process.

Just like a project management system keeps track of all of your tasks and processes, a client relationship management (CRM) system puts all of your client information in one, easy-to-find location. 

For example, at Treefrog we use HoneyBook. This centralizes all our clients’ data including contact info, contracts, invoices, payments, communications, and more—allowing for streamlined communication and organized recordkeeping.

Plus, as mentioned before, systems like HoneyBook often include their own automations and some analytics that allow you to better understand their customer base and identify areas for growth.

Email Service Provider (ESP)

Email has again and again proven to be the best marketing channel in terms of ROI, generating an estimated $36 for every $1 spent. With this in mind, it’s clear that an email system is a must-have tool for small businesses.

Email service providers (ESPs) make email marketing and communication efficient and effective. Rather than sending each of your current or potential clients emails individually, systems like MailChimp allow you to schedule and send bulk emails, organize your audience using tags and categories so you can tailor your messages to specific groups, and create automated responses.

Plus, MailChimp collects important data such as open rates, click-through rates, and more. With these analytics, you can test what styles of emails get more engagement and tailor your email marketing strategy to better resonate with your audience, ultimately driving higher conversion rates and fostering stronger customer relationships.

Bookkeeping System

If you’re not keeping track of your money, you’re losing money. It’s as simple as that. With this in mind, it’s important to have an effective bookkeeping system to keep track of your invoices and other finances. 

Nobody wants to be that person sending invoices for work done six months ago. Not only does it look unprofessional, but it can also throw a wrench in your cash flow and shake client trust. By staying on top of your transactions, tracking expenses, and sending out timely invoices, you’re not just keeping things organized; you’re showing your clients that you’re dependable and on the ball.

As with most of the tools we’ve talked about, what system you use should simply depend on what works best for your business. At Treefrog, we use HoneyBook for invoicing and QuickBooks for tracking profits and expenses. We’ve found both of these tools to work well for busy small businesses, but these are not your only options. Whatever bookkeeping system you choose, make sure you have systems in place to ensure you are managing your finances effectively.  

In addition to using a bookkeeping system, we also highly recommend working with an accountant. This helps relieve financial management duties and helps ensure that your finances are recorded and filed correctly—which will save you significant stress come tax season or in the event of an audit.

Social Media Management Software & Systems

While social media is a key part of any marketing strategy, it can be overwhelming for a small business—especially if you’re trying to stay active on multiple platforms. Social media management softwares can help streamline and organize your social media efforts.

By providing tools for scheduling posts, managing multiple accounts from a centralized platform, and analyzing performance metrics, software such as SocialPilot and Hootsuite streamline the process of maintaining a strong social media presence. 

Plus, they oftentimes have features for monitoring comments, messages, and mentions—enabling businesses to interact with their audience in a timely and meaningful manner.

Just as important as having a social media management software is creating a system to go along with it. This doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just something that works well for you and your team while keeping everything organized and accounted for.

For example, at Treefrog, we have a systematic process for making social media posts and managing accounts. We write all of our social media posts in organized templates on Google Drive. After they go through review and design, they are bulk scheduled using SocialPilot. Then, throughout the month, we keep an eye on the posts to make sure everything uploads properly and receives engagement.

Document Management System

Efficiency is key for any small business. Every minute counts, and wasting time searching for crucial documents can derail productivity faster than you can say "deadline." This is where a document management system comes into play. This system keeps all of your files organized and in one place so you can effortlessly find any file you may need. 

While you can technically do this on your laptop or desktop, we recommend storing your files somewhere cloud-based. For example, at Treefrog, we use Google Drive to house all of our files. This allows all of our team members across the country to have access to any resources and content they may need and makes it much easier to collaborate and share documents with one another. 

Plus, using a cloud-based document management system provides an extra layer of security to your files. These systems often have advanced encryption and security protocols that safeguard your documents against unauthorized access or breaches. And, since the files aren’t on a single device, you don’t need to worry about losing everything should something happen to your device.

Google Analytics & Google Search Console

Your website is your business’s virtual home and the foundation of your marketing. Because of this, you need to be tracking its performance.

Google Analytics and Google Search Console are two free yet invaluable resources that offer a wealth of insights into website performance and search engine visibility—allowing you to make data-driven decisions that can propel your businesses forward.

Google Analytics, for example, can provide insight into how your audience interacts with your website. This program tracks critical metrics such as website traffic, page popularity, and visitor behavior. Google Analytics can also show you exactly what pages are receiving the most traffic, how long people are looking at these pages, and more. 

Tracking this user behavior can help you understand what pages resonate with or attract your audience—showing you what’s working on your website and what is missing the mark.

While Google Analytics delves into user behavior, Google Search Console offers a complementary perspective, focusing on your website's performance in search engine results. It offers insights on keyword rankings, average positions on Google, and backlinks—all of which can have a major impact on your website’s SEO ranking and positioning on Google. 

With this information, you can fine-tune your SEO strategies and optimize your content and structure to get your website to rank higher on Google—and other search engines—so your ideal clients can find and patronize your business.

In the fast-paced realm of small business, efficiency is key, and having the right tools at your disposal can make all the difference. From keeping your finances in check to mastering social media and analyzing your marketing efforts, these tools are the backbone of your business operations. By embracing this technology, you're not just streamlining your workflow—you're setting yourself up for long-term success and growth.

Try HoneyBook—the all-in-one CRM that streamlines your workflow—to save 45 minutes per day on admin tasks.


Small businesses deserve to have a marketing strategy and partner that works as hard as they do.

Treefrog Marketing is a marketing agency for small businesses located in Lafayette, Indiana that builds effective marketing strategies and systems that help small business leaders take their companies to the next level. We specialize in marketing leadership, strategic marketing and advertising, digital marketing, graphic design, web design, social media, SEO, and more. For more information, please visit our website. You can also connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Leverage Kelly’s marketing experience, insights, and leadership to grow your business.

As the founder and chief marketing strategist at Treefrog Marketing, a co-host of the Priority Pursuit Podcast, a StoryBrand Certified Guide, and fractional chief marketing officer, Kelly Rice has spent more than two decades helping small businesses take their companies to the next level by providing trustworthy leadership and building effective marketing strategies and systems.

She has dedicated her career to helping small businesses succeed because she knows, firsthand, how hard they work to make their communities a better place. 

Still, many people undervalue the strength and ingenuity of small businesses, but not Kelly. She believes they deserve to have a marketing partner and strategy that works as hard as they do.

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