Essential Business Tools to Help You Operate and Grow

North Star Design Studio utilizes a diverse range of technology to deliver amazing services to clients like you. We evaluate our processes, tech stack and client facing resources on a regular basis to deliver the best experience and the most value for your buck. Likewise, we know your clients rely on you to stay on top of your game in these areas as well but we recognize staying on top of tech can be a daunting challenge.

That's why we've compiled this awesome list of Essential Business Tools to Help You Operate and Grow. Our list contains amazing platforms with robust 'trial' periods that will give you ample time to implement, evaluate and judge if they're a good fit for your goals. Also, many of the features are relatively easy to implement and have a fairly simple DIY set-up.

Special Programs for Nonprofits: Click Here

PS: If you have questions on any of these, we're happy to answer those, just email us your questions at

trello (dot) com logo

A versatile project management tool, Trello is our top recommendation for Businesses that need to implement something fast to manage day-to-day tasks and get their feet wet in a project management tool.

clickup (dot) com logo

Ready for the next level in Project Management tools? ClickUp is what we use and it's amazing. Beyond it's ability to integrate (Zoom, Zapier, Slack, etc), you can also import existing workflows direct from Trello!

whimsical (dot) com logo

If there's one word to describe Whimsical it's 'Magical'. Whimsical allows you to create flowcharts, mind maps, sticky notes and even wireframes to help get your great ideas out of your head and on to paper.


1Password is the easiest way to store and use strong passwords. Log in to sites and fill forms securely with a single click and easily update old passwords and save new ones anytime. You can also import csv password logs.


Accurate mileage reports and stress-free logging from your desktop or in the palm of your hand. Exports logs easily at tax time too!


Create a professional email signature in 30 seconds with our award-winning signature generator. Perfect for professionals, freelancers, and small business owners.


A free time tracking software that lets you organize your projects, track work hours, and share reports with clients or management - all in one place.


Simple online scheduling for you and your team. Eliminates back and forth emails. Customer bookings straight into your calendar.


You can create beautiful, high-impact proposals in minutes instead of hours. plus, enjoy the ability to track who's read what when in real time!


Members use Alignable to get the industry answers they need, connect within their local business community or across the country, and increase buzz for their business.


Simplified video conferencing and messaging across any device. Basic personal Meeting account is free and allows unlimited 1:1 video conferences for up to 40 minutes and with the option to record meetings.


Google Calendar syncs with most website platforms, email apps and smartphone devices. It's free, convenient and allows you to create segmented calendars you can share with clients, family and friends.


Hootsuite's Free plan is a good way to dip your toe in the social media sea. Schedule and publish content to the right channels at the right time, track effectiveness in real time, and crank the volume on your top-performing content.


Spend more time away from your desk and automate social media posting! You can schedule posts or even sync your blog to social media accounts.


Google Calendar syncs with most website platforms, email apps and smartphone devices. It's free, convenient and allows you to create segmented calendars you can share with clients, family and friends.

Recommended Listening

Begin As You Mean To Go On podcast by Kronda Adair
I'm a personal fan (and client) of Kronda Adair, host of the awesome podcast, Begin As You Mean To Go On. Every episode delivers both insight as well as actionable next steps listeners can take to build a better, stronger business. You'll get some tough love sometimes but you'll also hear what's necessary to reach your goals.
The Audience Converter Podcast with Kimberly Weitkamp

Another favorite of mine is The Audience Converter Podcast for Community Leaders with Kimberly Weitkamp. Every episode Kim leverages her experience to deliver great insight and actionable next steps that listeners can take to the bank.


The Council on Foundations fosters an environment where philanthropy can thrive and cultivates a community of diverse and skilled philanthropic professionals and organizations who lead with integrity, serve as ethical stewards and advocate for progress.


AmazonSmile will donate 0.5% of  eligible purchases to your charitable organization when users sign-in from and select you as their preferred charity. Once registered, let all your friends, family, constituents and stakeholders know how they can login in through!


Collect donations on Facebook with a "Donate" button, Page Fundraisers, Fundraiser stickers and more! Now your nonprofit can raise money directly from your Facebook Page with our donate button and Page Fundraisers.


All eligible charity PayPal accounts will be automatically enrolled in PayPal Giving Fund, delivering donations directly to your PayPal account.

Discounts for 'Nonprofits'


Help your nonprofit collaborate more effectively with smart, secure business apps like Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Drive, and Google Meet, so you can focus on what matters.


Social media is a powerful, innovative way to organize successful fundraisers, connect with supporters, and create a passionate community that fosters real change.That's why we offer registered nonprofit organizations up to 50% off Hootsuite Professional and Team Plans.

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