The best online tools for business owners

From web-based project management to social media-driven PR, we take a closer look at some of the most useful online tools for small and medium-sized businesses.

Trello: Whiteboard-style project management

Promising ‘instant clarity on any project', Trello is a web-hosted project management tool that's designed to be super flexible and easy to use. The premise is simple: a project is represented by a board, a bit like Pinterest, while tasks take the form of cards. These cards can be colour-coded, tagged and assigned deadlines and different users, there's also no limit to how many cards you post or boards you create.

Accessible via your browser or a downloadable app, Trello's basic offering is free. To unlock additional administrative features users can upgrade to Business Class, which costs $45 (£26) per user, per year, for each organisation.

Money Dashboard: your finances at a glance

We may be biased, but we think our free budget planner is the best way of keeping tabs on your personal finances, giving you one less thing to worry about as you steer your business to financial success. You can apply the same diligence to your own bank as you do to your business accounts, with our sophisticated software letting you see all of your balances and spending in one simple place.

Gantter: The browser alternative to Microsoft Project

Gantter is an online project management tool that works as a web-based 'alternative to Microsoft Project', MS Project files can even be seamlessly imported into the browser-based app. Unlike many of its rivals, Gantter supports the dynamic scheduling of tasks rather than arbitrary deadline date-picking, so it's a sound choice for larger project collaborations.

With clients including Staples and Google, Gantter is just as suited to small and medium-sized businesses as it is to the big boys. Because it's free there are a few limitations – collaboration features don't extend beyond editing at file-level, for example – but the functionality is such that the app is suitable for managing everything from large construction projects to creating a new website.

PitchEngine: Socially-driven PR

Small businesses often sacrifice PR when faced with expensive agencies and complicated press release distribution networks. But it no longer has to be like this; step forward PitchEngine, a complete PR suite whose slick interface and simple model belies its effectiveness.

PitchEngine specialises in social media releases. All you need to do is log in, upload your business logo, link your company's social accounts, create a new release with headline and Twitter-friendly pitch, add links to your website and include appropriate tags. Your pitch is then ready to be distributed via social and email, with all releases appearing on PitchEngine's PitchFeed, where journalists and bloggers lurk in search of potential leads and new stories.

Until recently the service has been free, but due to the release of an 'all-new pitch engine' users must now sign up to a monthly subscription. There are plenty of subscription plans to choose from though, so whether you want one pitch a month or 10, it may be worth investing to access those crucial new customers.

Posted by Money Dashboard


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