Every now and then a company comes along with a game changing business tool. Sometimes they are quickly adopted and spread like wildfire. Other times they take a little while to catch on. Oftentimes, exceptional tools get major facelifts making them even better for users.

Over time, a handful of tools come to stand out as the best in their category or industry. Check out these five great business tools that came to be leaders of the pack over the last few years.

Small Business Accounting

In the accounting software industry, a few big names have stuck around for many years. With good reason; they’re powerful, useful tools. In recent history, cloud-based accounting software emerged. Most are more affordable than their predecessors. Because the program and data are stored in the cloud, local resource requirements are zero and data can be tapped in to wherever you have Internet access. If this sounds like something you need, check out FreshBooks cloud accounting.

The service is accessible from any device that can connect to the Internet. Features include: live support access, 30-day free trial, automatic backups, time tracking, invoicing, expense importing, report generation, and sales tax management. Plus, you can accept customer payments via 12 gateways. There are four plans to choose from, including one totally free option.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

The last thing you want in a business tool is for it to overcomplicate things. Most businesses used to track customers’ contact information, purchases, and relationship information on index cards stored in a Rolodex. Now we have customer relationship management technology (commonly known as CRM). With a great CRM, you can easily include and store more data. They’re easier to search; plus, they take up no real physical space.

Your CRM shouldn’t be confusing and it shouldn’t create extra work—so be sure you choose a CRM that’s easy to use and a good fit for your business. Insightly’s new user interface (UI) is easier to use, cleaner, sleeker and faster than ever before. Features include: automatic address book, custom fields and filters, mass email contacts, flexible calendaring, and integrated project management with milestones, pipelines, and tasks. Insightly even offers a free plan with no time limit.

Email Marketing Software

A powerful tool in any small business’s arsenal, email marketing software provides a wide variety of features. This year’s leader in email marketing software is MailChimp. There’s a free version, and it’s simple to upgrade. Plan offerings fit a wide spectrum of budgets. MailChimp has far-reaching integration with CRMs and project management platforms, including Insightly. The ability to import and export contacts between your CRM and MailChimp is a huge benefit.

Hundreds of other applications integrate with MailChimp, including PayPal, Shopify, SurveyMonkey, Flickr, and WordPress. Features include: more than 400 templates, HTML and CSS access, multiple users, autoresponders, geolocation, RSS to email, analytic reports, coupon codes, mobile tools, and social networking tools.

Mobile Payment Applications

Now more than ever, small business owners have so many more options for processing transactions. Each company who offers a mobile payment solution has slightly different terms. No two are exactly alike. Some charge a transaction fee only, others have a monthly service fee, and most offer you a choice of payment plans.

Android™ and iPhone® users who need versatile, affordable mobile payment service must try PayPal Here®. Features include: live support, per swipe transaction fee, no long term commitment, no monthly fee, payment via credit, debit, and checks, accounting for cash payments, and even invoicing.

Remote Access Software

If you frequently work from more than one computer, you’ve probably been caught without access to important data. Remote access programs are far from a new invention, but they remain incredibly useful for businesses. PocketCloud Remote Desktop gives you remote access to Windows® or Mac® desktops via Android or iOS® apps. Each app is optimized for its device and operating system.

You can connect in one of three ways: auto discovery, remote desktop protocol (RDP), or virtual network computing (VNC). Features include: intuitive user interface, multitasking, highly accurate pointer, keyboard auto-activation, and custom keyboards with shortcuts. The free version is limited to one computer. The Pro package includes multiple computer access and 3rd party app integration, among other features.

Having the right tools at your fingertips can make all the difference for your business. When you can count on your business applications to reliably automate and organize your most important information, you know you’ve chosen well.

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