These days it seems like there's a better way to do almost anything. Whether you're sharing documents and pictures, managing email, or even updating your Facebook and Twitter accounts, chances are there's a way you could do it more efficiently. This capability, of course, is largely due to technology -- specifically, on your mobile phone or tablet.

Architects, for instance, may have once had to send a special courier to deliver blueprints across town. Now they make deliveries of large documents on their phone while lying in bed at night. For small-business owners, these advances are not just a matter of convenience, but a way to save money, market their services, and retain customers.

So what are their favorite tech tools in 2015?

The team at SurePayroll, a small-business payroll provider, reached out to me via Twitter to share that they had recently surveyed over 350 small-business owners nationwide to find out which tools they use for email marketing, cloud storage, social media, productivity, and more.

The survey found that 78% of small-business owners have had to make changes to their businesses to account for a more online, technology-based marketplace. That tells you just how pervasive tech has become in our lives. Everything is in the cloud, man. So check out the following rankings by category of small-business owners' favorite tech tools:

Organization and productivity apps:

Google Drive lets you store and access your files anywhere--on the web, on your hard drive, or on the go. Evernote is a suite of software and services that allow users to capture, organize, and find information across multiple platforms. Tripit is a trip planner that enables users to create a master travel itinerary and provide them with online and mobile access. Trello is a visual project management system. Expensify is a financial services startup that provides an online expense management service for customers worldwide. Asana is a web and mobile application designed to help teams improve communication, organization, and collaboration. Basecamp is a project management tool that offers a variety of customer service options.

Cloud storage tools:

Dropbox provides a home for users' most-important information. Google Drive lets you store and access your files anywhere -- on the Web, on your hard drive, or on the go. Apple's iCloud is a mobile- and Web-based application that enables its users to store their information. Microsoft OneDrive is a storage application that enables users to store and share photos, videos, documents, and more. Box is a file-sharing and cloud-content management service offering unlimited storage, custom branding, and administrative controls.

Customer-relations management tools:

Salesforce is a global cloud computing company that develops CRM solutions and provides business software on a subscription basis. Act! is the No. 1-selling contact and customer manager, enabling small businesses and sales teams to organize customer details, increase productivity, and drive results. SugarCRM enables businesses to create extraordinary customer relationships with the most innovative CRM solution in the market. Nimble is a Web- and SaaS-based platform providing small businesses with high-end CRM systems combined with social media. Zoho offers a suite of business, collaboration, and productivity applications including Customer Support, CRM, and App Creator.

Email marketing / marketing automation tools:

Constant Contact provides email, social media ,and event marketing tools to help small businesses grow their customer base. MailChimp is an email marketing service that helps businesses with newsletters, automated messages, and targeted campaigns. Marketo develops marketing automation software that provides inbound marketing, social marketing, CRM, and related services. Pardot is an SaaS-based marketing automation application enabling marketers to create, deploy, and manage online promotion campaigns. Emfluence lets you create, deploy, and track multi-channel online marketing campaigns from one place. The Emfluence marketing platform offers complete command of your campaign execution. InfusionSoft provides sales and marketing automation software for small businesses that combines CRM, email marketing, and e-commerce.

Social media and content tools:

Hootsuite is the most popular platform for managing social media, used by more than 10 million people around the globe. TweetDeck is a Twitter tool for real-time tracking, organizing, and engaging on Web and mobile devices. Sprout Social provides a platform for businesses to manage social media engagement, publishing, and analytics. Hearsay Social helps financial-services teams grow their business on social. Buffer App helps users share social media content by scheduling online posts throughout the day. ScribbleLive is the leading content marketing platform. It grows your upper funnel by combining big data insights with workflow technology.

There are many valuable tools out there to help the small-business entrepreneur be better organized and more productive overall. Do you have a favorite tool that was missed? List it below in our comments.

Published on: Aug 13, 2015