51 Best Tools for Small Businesses in 2020 (Free and Inexpensive)
It is an exciting thing to start your small business or to work for one. However, working without modern tools at your disposal can render your performance to a slow halt. This post will highlight the best tools for small businesses that are free and not so costly.
In other words: automation is the key to efficiency.
The ultimate goal of any startup must be to work smarter rather than working hard. This can only be achieved by using advanced tools for small businesses bestowed upon us by technology.
To that end, it is very important to have the right tools for small businesses as it makes a huge difference, and often provides a competitive edge over competitors.
Yet, it is not an easy task. There are hundreds of options out there. I am not exaggerating. Look it up yourself.
Filtering out the top tools for small businesses should be your utmost priority.
Why Do You Need Small Business Tools and Software?
Small businesses find it helpful, and their operations run efficiently using modern small business software and tools. The immediate, reliable, and secure access to the company data and information is provided with the help of modern technology, which enables real-time delivery and flow of information.
It is also very important for small businesses to prioritize and optimize teamwork as it is essential for them to grow and compete.
What Are The Benefits of Software and Tools for Small Businesses?
A team effort is required and essential to run a small business effectively. Therefore, it is important to prioritize your short-term and long-term needs before you make any decision.
In one line: your team goals must be aligned with your business goal. Always.
In the modern era, the concept of virtual workplaces and remote work is evolving. Small business programs make sure that your entire organization is synchronized and work well.
Modern software are very powerful and fun to work with. They streamline the operations of a firm, and the difference can be seen across the entire structure.
Some of the areas which are greatly affected include:
Productivity software and tools pave the way for teams to work smartly but not harder. It helps gain momentum and get rid of laziness and procrastination, which has a vital impact on total performance.
Teamwork is strengthened, and productivity is boosted with the help of communication software and tools.
Also, teams who stay connected have much better collaboration and produce great synergies.
Marketing software works wonders that can make an ordinary marketer look great with the help of powerful tools that provide powerful insights into customers’ data, which ultimately leads to the production of qualified sales leads.
If you need to keep track of transactions and the movement of money coming in and going out, the modern accounting software and tools help you to do so for your business. For such purposes, you do not require to be a financial expert to get ongoing.
The foremost objective of project management tools is to keep an eye on teamwork and get the optimum level of productivity.
Project management software and tools provide small businesses with the services of ensuring a balanced workload for teams and allowing tasks assigned to be completed on designated time.
Now that you know all about them, it’s time to look at what options you have. Select from these 51 small business tools and software to help run your business like a pro:
The 51 Best Tools For Small Businesses 2020:
Flock Video Conferencing
Gmail for G-Suite
Adobe Creative Cloud
Let’s start this incredible list with a tool that is worth being at the top – nTask. It is the best small business tool to help them manage their tasks and projects with efficiency. It is most suitable for startups and small businesses as it offers a Forever FREE account. This is the reason for nTask’s top rank in tools for small businesses roundup.
As far as software for small businesses goes, nTask is a must-have. Due to its low-cost and amazing features that give other apps a run for their money, nTask is a very handy program to have.
The tool works excellently well for small and medium-sized businesses. nTask gives you Kanban board, calendar management, Gantt charts, issues, and risk management with friendly user-interface.
Low price, great functionality
Built-in features like Gantt chart
Native module for bus tracking
Workspace management for teams
More features in the free version as compared to competitors
Basic – Forever Free account
Premium Plan: $2.99 per user/month
Business Plan: $7.99 per user/month
Enterprise Plan – on-demand
Another PM software for small businesses, Asana is a complete business solution.
This program is among the important tools for small businesses that are used by their teams to stay focused on the set goals, projects, and operational tasks of a business, which is in the growing stage.
It is one of the major and most popular projects management tools in the market.
Easy to use
Popularity in the business world
Premium: $11 per user/month
Business: $25 per user/month
Trello, along with nTask and Asana, completes the Trinity of the PM software for small businesses. I say that because these are the best of the best, in every possible way. Trello ranks 3rd on our list of best tools for small businesses.
This software, just like Arena, allows us to work collaboratively with teams and helps to organize visually and prioritize team projects just like a professional expert or a project manager.
Its impressive interface and the use of ‘cards’ are a hit with the organizations. The majority of the small teams prefer using Trello than any other tool in the market.
No downloads required
Cards records archive
Ability to add automated 3rd party extensions
Trello Gold free membership incentive!
Business: $10 per user/month
Moving on from PM software, let’s have a look at a couple of team messaging tools for small businesses.
You might be wondering why these tools are important since everyone has a cell phone in the office. Team messaging software offers real-time chats and makes communication seamless.
We strongly believe that Flock is the best small business software in terms of team communication, as it is not just a messenger but more than that.
It acts as a business collaboration hub, which helps in communicating faster.
Flock allows you to connect and communicate with your team through direct and group messaging, video conferencing, file sharing (secure), company directories, and custom team mailing.
Pro: $4.50 per user/month
Another super app is Slack. On popularity grounds, it is one of the most popular tools in the corporate sector and among the much-used tools for small businesses.
Slack is like Flock, but it is a tad bit expensive as compared to Flock. However, Slack does have a more fun approach to team messaging.
Its USP is its interface; any employee, whether he is using Slack first time or has been using it for a year, can utilize the app to its full potential.
For both the apps the Basic plan is for free, but Flock charges $4.50 per user per month for its pro version while Slack is expensive with $6.67 per user per month for Standard version and $12.50 per user per month for the Plus version.
Advanced search modifiers
Standard: $6.67 per user/month
Plus: $12.50 per user/month
The next vital software for startups or small businesses is a recruitment tool. Since it is quite a costly task to hire people, small companies cannot afford to do it the traditional way.
But thanks to technology, we have apps for everything! For recruitment, here’s something other than LinkedIn; AngelList.
AngelList is more than just an angel investment platform; it’s a powerful recruiting tool for startups and small businesses—and a goldmine for top talent.
From seed-stage to post-IPO, 36,000+ of the world’s top startups have built their teams using AngelList.
Easy to navigate
Source: $200 per month
A-List: 20% per hire
7. Flock Video Conferencing
Another tools for small businesses nowadays is a video conferencing app. The lockdown is not going away anytime soon. We better get used to it.
Video conferencing software help make remote working easy and quite frankly, fun too. Keeping that statement in view, this listicle aims at giving you new options in addition to the market leaders.
Apart from its extraordinary messaging app services, Flock is also equally good at proving video conferencing services.
Flock provides the small businesses with the capability and facility to host online meetings and webinars with its video conferencing software built right into the core messenger.
Why have two different apps for two different tasks?
Pro: $4.50 per user/month
It would be wrong to talk about video conferencing and not mention Zoom. If you think it’s just an over-hyped app, let me tell you that it’s not. It’s as good as they come.
There’s a reason why Zoom is considered to be one of the most popular tools for small businesses for video conferencing needs.
Zoom’s free plan allows us to host unlimited meetings either to one or group meetings where up to 100 individuals can participate with a limit of 40 minutes.
HD audio and video
Pro: $15 per host/month
Business: $20 per host/month
9. Join.me by LogMeIn
Video conferencing tools are the talk of the town. So, the more, the merrier, right?
The third option that you can go to for your tools for small businesses is Join.me.
It’s a simple yet powerful app with amazing features. You can experience HD video and audio quality to give you the feel of sitting in a conference room during the virtual meetings.
Plus, the name is pretty straightforward too.
Share mouse control
Multiple screen sharing
$10 per user/month
Moving on, here’s a cool-named app with the interface to go with it. Thunderbird is the ‘more fun’ alternative to Google email services.
Its free, efficient, and loaded with features. As popular as Gmail is, Thunderbird not everyone’s cup of tea. The best thing about these tools for small businesses is its simple look. Many people find it a bit too simple.
However, once you have tried it, you will realize that the program has a lot to offer beyond that seemingly “simple” interface.
Try Thunderbird to restore your faith in emailing!
Active collaboration with team members
Improved workflow over conventional rival products
Starts at $39 per user
11. Gmail for G Suite
Honestly, how can we not mention Gmail? It’s right there at the top of the line in tools for small businesses! Let’s see why:
Gmail provides small businesses with a customized email address and provides access to Google’s full suite of business products and admin tools, helping businesses optimize their communication.
Need I say more?
Google Apps Sidebar
Free 14-day trial, then $6 per month
12. Titan Email
Three options are better than two. Wouldn’t you agree?
If you are still not impressed by Thunderbird and Gmail, then Titan might be the right one for you. It is less costly, offers all the vital features, and it’s super easy to use.
Titan is a modern-day tool for small businesses email that is dedicated to startups. It allows businesses to get a professional email address that best suits their website’s domain name and has amazing customization options.
Commenting and rating
Free 30-day trial, then $1.50 per user/month
Next up on our list of tools for small businesses is MixMax. This one is a bonus! Apart from a catchy name, this app is excellent for small-sized organizations.
Keeping track of emails is time-consuming and often annoying. MixMax is a browser plugin that helps you track correspondence, schedule emails, and use sequences and reminders.
Unfortunately, the free version is limited to 100 tracked emails and 10 scheduled emails per month, so if you communicate a lot over email, it’s better to go for the paid version. It’s worth it.
Mail tracking and analytics
Free trial available
The full version starts at $9 per user/month
Next, we have a POS tool for small businesses which is, another core operation of small firms.
Its free version offers customer analytics and inventory management. It’s a super handy product to have.
The tool is designed to streamline customer loyalty programs by recording and tracking customer data and offering advice on how to manage clients.
What’s more important for small businesses than to retain their customers? These tools for small businesses are much supportive for early-stage startups.
Inventory and employee management
Lightspeed package: $99/month
Shopkeep package: $69/month
On the contrary, if you are not looking for modern, fun apps, then here is an old-school software for you.
Some people like doing things the old way. KeyHut’s POS and Educational software are powerful tools for small businesses developed by Dale Harris. It is a 90s-style software with a touch of humor.
Even if you don’t choose it for the long run, it’s a must-try-once app!
Customer and table management
16. Google Drive
Businesses run on documents. Ever since the boom of technology, companies document each and every activity.
This makes document sharing and storing an integral part of tools for small businesses as well. It’s not an easy task. But, fret not! Google Drive is here for the rescue!
This amazing tool is free of cost, and even a person who is new to the internet can use it. Google Drive allows the files to be shared in real-time and makes collaboration easier.
15 GB space
Work best with other Google apps
Basic: Free, 15GB
G Suite: $6 per month, 30 GB
Google One: $2 per month, 100 GB; $3 per month, 200GB; $10 per month, 2 TB
Next up on our tools for small businesses list is Dropbox. As good as Google Drive is, cloud-based apps are not everyone’s cup of tea. Dropbox is a perfect alternative to that.
It is an outstanding tool for sharing large and complex files that are used by designers or developers.
Individual Plus: $10 per month, 2TB
Individual Pro: $17 per month, 3TB
Teams Standard: $12.50 user/month 5TB
Teams Advanced: $20 user/month, Unlimited
If you prefer automation over manual work, you better go for this tools for small businesses.
Todoist is a simple yet extremely useful task manager. If you want to keep your work organized, this app is your best partner.
It helps you provide an overview of workday and schedule and prioritize projects for you, allowing you to know what work is due next.
Also, Todoist makes sure you do not leave important tasks unattended. Quite handy!
Integration with Gmail
Premium: $3 per user/month
You can also try Evernote for managing daily tasks. It is one of the pioneers in this category and still offers amazing features.
It helps you in saving web pages, bookmarking articles, and also clipping PDFs to the app. It uses a premade template to develop a plan for a business or a complete research report.
Premium: $8 per user/month
Business: $15 per user/month
Workstations are undoubtedly the need of the hour for small companies. Since their size already puts them at a disadvantage against other firms, efficient operations will help them survive in the market.
Talking about the modern workstation for the teams who are looking for optimum productivity and for the entrepreneurs who are looking for efficiency, Shift is the best option available for them.
Shift helps in managing all the apps running along with managing extensions, accounts on social media platforms, and email accounts on a single desktop application.
Very good mobile app
Advanced: $99 per year
Another option that small companies can go for is Station. It is referred to as a next-generation dashboard, which helps you rule all the apps.
The program groups all the available and used apps in a smart way along with different tabs. It also opens web pages in one single place, allowing you to multitask across various accounts, quicker.
Teams: TBD (as of July 2020)
Well, you know how they say, time is money. It could not be truer for small businesses and startups.
This is one of those cool-named tools we often see around. TimeDoctor is the one that provides you with the insights of time spent on each task or project along with keeping track of the total amount of time spent on various activities.
TimeDoctor is highly accurate, which makes it helpful in easy billing of clients or paying employees based on tracked time.
Basic: 14-day trial, then $10 per user/month
You may start to see a trend here. Makes us wonder if all time management apps are named brilliantly.
RescueTime helps in the identification of how you spend time, on what tasks time is spent, and what is the best time to perform the tasks.
Focusing on a single activity or task for a long time is a difficult task, but it can provide a competitive edge if done.
Capture time spent in meetings
Premium: 14-day trial, then $6 per month
Thanks to the good people over at the IT industry, every single operation of your business can be automated with just an app.
Zapier helps in connecting 1,500 of the most popular business applications and tools, which makes it helpful in focusing on the most crucial tasks.
The information is automatically moved between applications with a central command with the help of Zapier.
Moreover, the wasting of time on repetitive tasks is saved and thus, more time can be spent on tasks that are loved more.
Can connect more than 2 apps
Starter: $20 per month
Pro: $50 per month
The name gives it away.
Automate.io is a user-friendly and highly affordable solution for integrating cloud apps and services to build simple workflows.
It helps users to automate sales, marketing, and different processes related to business in very less time.
Automate.io’s most important side is that it is easy to use and does not require any expert technical knowledge or practice.
One to one integration
Basic: Forever Free Plan
What’s better than a cool name for your app? A cool acronym, of course!
“If this then that” or IFTTT is a simple automation system that performs ridiculously well! IFTTT integrates all your main apps and services to create an amazing experience for the users.
For instance, it can turn your leads into contacts by moving data from one app to another. How convenient is that!
Easy integration with other apps
If you are a small business and you want to schedule meetings without the hustle of emails, Calendly is your best companion.
Calendly automates tasks with Zapier and Salesforce by working with existing Outlook, iCloud, Google, and Office 365 calendars.
Integration with popular apps
Premium: $8 per user/month
Pro: $12 per user/month
You might recognize the name from that Viber feature. Sadly, it’s not related to it.
Use Doodle for booking business meetings faster and quicker. It helps you to schedule meetings on-the-go with outside parties without inquiring about availability.
You do not need to update your guests as Doodle does it for you constantly by updating the meetings’ different statuses and availability.
Custom design and branding
Starter: $4 per month
Pro: $6 per month
Team: $30 per month
As discussed earlier, small businesses must retain customers for survival.
CRM tools for small business and marketing tools for small businesses are exigent to achieve this.
Tools of marketing, customer service, and sales are brought together with the help of HubSpot’s CRM software under one roof.
With major features that include analytics, lead generation, and automation, it connects everything you need to know into the central hub for stakeholders to access.
Another famous and popular CRM software is Zoho which provides a solution for small businesses. It brings businesses and their customers together through an integrated platform giving all the departments of marketing, sales, customer service, and commerce an insight into every customer.
Your business can manage customer relations is a better and faster way by using Zoho.
Email marketing campaigns
Basic: 15-day trial, then $12 per user/month
For a change, here’s an app with a not-so-cool name.
Beyond a tongue-twisting name, this application has a lot to offer. For instance, xTuple streamlines the entire value chain by providing excellent integration options.
It is an open-source ERP solution made specifically for companies involved in manufacturing a d sale of products, not services.
It has a super-efficient CRM and its free.
Management of extensive data
32. Help Scout
Help Scout is pretty much like a Boy Scout version of a modern-day application. It helps you to do tons of things associated with running a business from a ground-up approach.
Help Scout is an all-in-one platform customer support tool designed for small businesses to convert and support your customers.
The application offers multi-channel support with email and chat, and additional self-service tools that compile customer data and activity to ensure a great customer lifecycle experience.
Customer satisfaction ratings
Standard: $20 per user/month
Plus: $35 per user/month
And we are back to the tools with amazing names! Sellsy is a powerful tool for customer data management.
The major hurdle in managing customer data to make valuable decisions is combining data from various platforms and apps.
Sellsy makes this task easier. With its variety of features like time tracking, inventory management, and analytics tools, it is a nice app to have around.
Convert quotes into invoices
Connect bank accounts
Free trial available
The full version starts at $50
Social media; you might have heard these words more than any other words in the last decade. For companies, regardless of their size, social media presence is a must.
Increasing social following and growing the brand of a small business is best done by using Buffer.
It is involved in planning, scheduling, and publishing content on social media that engages users across all popular social media sites which includes Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
Analytics and insights
RSS feeds connectivity
Pro: 7-day trial, then $15 per month
Premium: 14-day trial, then $65 per month
Business: 14-day trial, then $99 per month
Or you can go for Hootsuite which is another impressive social media marketing tool for small businesses.
Hootsuite is a leading tool that offers all in one social media management and helps strengthen the presence of small businesses on social media.
It makes sure that customers are engaged deeply by automated scheduling and sending social media posts round-the-clock along with comments and replies.
Pro: 30-day trial, then $29 per month
Team: 30-day trial, then $129 per month
Email marketing remains one of the most used avenues of promotion, even today.
Mailchimp is the industry-leading tool for email marketing campaigns and is part of the all-in-one platform designed to help the business grow faster.
Mailchimp is customizable and can integrate with many of the marketing tools to manage customer relations as well.
Built-in photo editing
Essentials: $10 per month
Standard: $15 per month
Next, we have an app that offers just a bit more customizable options than other tools.
ConvertKit is used to send emails that pop with its fully customizable templates and embeddable forms allowing you to collect email addresses from the website directly and converting readers into subscribers.
It also tags the subscribers based on their interests and helps in the segmentation of the audience and communicates them the right message at the right time.
0-1k subscribers: $29 per month
1-3k subscribers: $49 per month
3-5k subscribers: $79 per month
You can also contact ConverKit’s official customer care center for pricing on enterprise solution packages.
38. Adobe Creative Cloud
Let’s talk about specifics now. Digital marketing is the thing today. And to come up with interesting designs, you need to have the proper tools.
Adobe Creative Cloud is a premium digital design software with a collection of mobile and desktop apps and services providing photography, design, web, and much more.
It is considered a standard for digital design by many professional designers.
Market-leading editing options
Wide range of in-built tools
Individuals: Starts at $10 per month
Business: Starts at $34 per month
Students &Teachers: $20 per month
Schools & Universities: $15 per month
Apart from Adobe, Canva is another favorite design platform for DIY creatives.
Beginner level designers and marketers can utilize stunning, premade templates that make it easy to turn content ideas into professional designs using Canva’s drag and drop features.
Whether you need a photo collage or a social media mockup, Canva makes it possible for anyone to create amazing designs.
Social media graphics
Pro: 30-day trial then $10 per month
Enterprise: 30-day trial then $30 per month
Learn about more design tools:
12 Best Tools for Web and Graphic Designer
Websites are great touchpoints. Having an incredible web page for your business can bring in customers.
According to WordPress, 35% of all websites on the internet use its platform. And with good reason! It offers outstanding templates for all sorts of businesses. It is among the tools for small businesses for getting started with an online presence.
Choose from more than 54,000 plugin tools—from online stores, image galleries, search and analytics tools, payment platforms, and more—that help showcase your products, services, content, and more.
Full standards compliance
Easy theme system
Pro: 30-day trial then $10 per month
Enterprise: 30-day trial then $30 per month
You may remember this app from YouTube ads.
Wix is a website builder that gives you the freedom to create, design, manage, and develop your web presence the way you want.
On a personal note, a couple of close family members have been using Wix for their highschool web development projects. So far, their response has been good.
Likewise, if you are looking to promote your business, showcase a project portfolio, or interested in opening an e-commerce store, Wix is equipped to fulfill those requirements.
Intuitive website builder
100+ designer-made templates
Personal: $13 per month
Unlimited: $17 per month
Pro: $22 per month
VIP: $39 per month
Alright, no comments on the name here. But this tool is pretty useful.
GoDaddy offers more than just a platform to build your website; it offers everything you need to create and run an effective, memorable online business.
The app offers a wide range of affordable hosting plans that include powerful online marketing tools with personalized support.
Unlimited data transfer
Buy domains and hosting
Web Hosting: Starts at $6 per month
WordPress Hosting: $7 per month
Business: Starting at $20 per month
43. Intuit QuickBooks
Small businesses go a long way if the bookkeeping is fantastic. The best kind of data is the one that is readily available. Good bookkeeping ensures fast access to reliable data.
QuickBooks has been the holy grail of accounting software for some time and we don’t think that’s changed.
Developed by Intuit, QuickBooks is built for small and medium-sized businesses and billed as an all-in-one cloud-based accounting platform for everything from money management, bill pay, and payroll functions.
Online banking and reconciliation
Integration with google maps
Simple Start: $12 per month
Essentials: $20 per month
Plus: $35 per month
Advanced: $75 per month
Premium: $50 per month
Check this out:
5 Best Invoicing Software to Use in 2020
Next up in our list of tools for small businesses is Wave App. It is award-winning accounting software. Let’s see why.
It is designed for entrepreneurs and the majority of its tools — like invoicing, payments, payroll, receipts – are absolutely free.
Wave’s best feature is the ability to fully brand, customize, and personalize invoices with advanced features like recurring billing and automatic payments.
However, collecting payments via credit card or running payroll comes with a price tag.
You all know about PayPal. Here’s one of the best accounting tools for small businesses.
Stripe helps power millions of small businesses in more than 100 countries and across nearly every industry.
Start collecting payments via card, ACH, or other popular payment methods instantly. Stripe provides billing software for everything from per-seat pricing to metered billing out of the box.
It also gives you the ability to set custom pricing, automate the collection process, and sync billing and payment data with your other accounting software and tools.
Payments: $0 per month; 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
You can’t escape the authorities. Paying tax on time adds to the goodwill of your business.
TurboTax saves you time by transferring last year’s information into your TurboTax return. It’ll automatically import your QuickBooks income and expense accounts and classify them for you.
It will also guide you through your deductible business expenses—from vehicle and supplies to advertising and travel.
Electronic tax filing
State: $50 per state
To be honest, contract management does not come under the primary operations of a firm. Yet, automating the procedure does make life easier.
HelloSign makes it easy for small businesses to sign documents or request signatures from up to 20 different people in any order or all at once.
When the document is completed, everyone gets a copy delivered to their inbox. Check your document’s progress with status notifications that keep you in the loop throughout the entire process.
Standard: $13 per user/month
Enterprise: $23 per user/month
Number 48th on our list of tools for small businesses is 15Five. Performance management is not to be taken lightly. Employees need a push. And does not happen on its own very often.
15Five is a performance management software that brings the best out of your employees.
Al thanks to a holistic platform, 15Five helps to connect people at an individual level. Think about manager critically appraising an employee or communicating with a fellow member from another department.
All sort of collaboration is done privately.
Basic: $7 per user/month
Plus: $14 per user/month
49. General Assembly
General Assembly overlooks a wide array of career development options. For instance, staffing, hiring, grooming, and such other variables can be attended by managers.
In addition, this platform also specializes in today’s most in-demand skills from web development, data, design, digital marketing, business, and more.
As a result of the General Assembly’s continued efforts, over 40,000+ businesses have profited so far. The overall user response has been nothing short of positive via this app.
Alumni collaboration opportunities
HR skills development
Multi solution platform for stakeholders and team members alike
It does what it says best; the tool connects teams across different platforms.
Connecteam is a special tool as it was designed for one specific target market i.e., people who love technology.
Everything about this tool makes you fall in love with the tech. Whether it’s the live chat and group conversations, work directory, updates, feedback surveys, or suggestion box, Connecteam doesn’t disappoint you.
Plus, everything is stored in its cloud database, which is secure to the core.
Growth package: $35/month
Max package: $59/month
Some of the tools for small businesses aim to cater to all business needs. However, there are still that are designed for specific business types.
Proofhub is equipped with all the necessary project management features that are required for a small firm.
It assists in the execution of projects by offering a range of collaborating tools. Moreover, its time tracking, file sharing, and reporting features are second to none.
3rd party app integrations for improved work process
Starts at $50 per month
Over to you!
Over the last couple of years, business solutions have exponentially grown in number. However, not all of those solutions meet quality standards these days. Some of them are also not a perfect fit for various companies due to variance in requirements.
On that note, gathering these software, researching their features, and summing them up on this list was not an easy task. But then again, we wanted to offer insight on programs that are worth mentioning to project managers and aspiring agile framework teams.
The aforementioned programs cover almost all the functions of a firm. Sit down with your team and discuss every option before finalizing on a product.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.