Free Small Business Software: 25 Best Options
How do you find the small business software you need without spending a fortune?
In the USA, there are 30.7 million small businesses. These companies create around 1.5 million jobs each year, and they account for 64% of the jobs in the US. But, every business needs the right tools to thrive. And the overheads of running a small business aren’t shrinking.
As demand for value, and the popularity of freemium products, has grown, there are plenty of small business software options to choose from. So many, in fact, that finding the best one for you has become a time-consuming and preventative task.
That’s why we’ve put this post covering the best small business software options for the following categories:
- Collaboration software for small businesses
- Sales software for small businesses
- Marketing software for small businesses
- Management software for small businesses
- Accounting software for small businesses
Best Business Software for Collaboration
Collaboration is at the heart of any successful business. It doesn’t matter whether you have five employees or 50. Making sure everyone stays on the same page is essential.
An upward trend anyway, and more popular since the 2020 pandemic, remote work has triggered the need for collaboration tools to become your work hub.
1 – Slack
Slack is one of the best-known collaboration tools in the world and exceptionally popular with small business owners. In fact, 65% of businesses say they are using Slack today.
At its core, Slack is a messenger app for business to business interactions.
It’s easy to use, like chatting with a friend over Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. Slack has a variety of ways to bring context to conversations like formatting, images, and GIFs.
Threaded messages make conversations feel natural and separate sub-topics from mass conversation.
Alongside messaging, you can transfer files, share your screen, and even video call. Slack brings your entire team together wherever they’re working from.
You can even use shared channels to connect with external contacts who also use Slack in different organizations.
- Instant messaging and asynchronous messaging
- Shared channels for external contacts
- Screen and file sharing
- GIFs and emojis
- A searchable database for information
- Audio and video calling
- Vast directory of Slack integrations
Companies of every size from every industry rely on Slack to get work done. The free version of Slack makes it easy for small businesses to get started.
2 – Cisco Webex Teams
Cisco Webex Teams is a user-friendly collaboration service that might be familiar if you’ve ever joined a Webex meeting. The app combines messaging, file sharing, and video meetings with business calling.
Webex Teams is ideal for companies that already have Cisco hardware. If you’re using Cisco phones for telephony, then adding Cisco Webex Teams and Meetings is a breeze.
Cisco is on the cutting edge of the communication industry. They even coined the term cognitive collaboration. Cognitive collaboration brings artificial intelligence into team meetings and conference rooms.
Cisco Webex Teams includes access to virtual assistants and tools like People Insights. People Insights allow you to learn about your colleagues before starting a call.
Virtual whiteboarding tools make sharing visual ideas quick and easy and can be integrated with a physical whiteboard supplied by Cisco.
- Secure end-to-end encryption for messaging, video, and calls
- Integration with existing Cisco equipment
- Video and audio conferencing
- Screen sharing and file sharing
- Integrations with third-party apps and bots
- AI enhancements for cognitive collaboration
3- Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams is part of the Microsoft 365 productivity suite. If you know your way around tools like Excel and SharePoint, then you’ll love Teams. There’s even a free small business software version available.
This app started as a replacement for Skype for Business. Now, Microsoft Teams is an advanced collaboration tool, with options like Business Voice.
As part of the Microsoft 365 catalog, Microsoft Teams come with end-to-end encryption. You can connect with employees through web conferencing and online meetings. Plus, there are channels and instant messaging like you find in Slack.
You can open up Microsoft Teams to external contacts who use the same app in their business by enabling guest access.
- Integrations with third-party apps and Microsoft 365
- Business phone and direct routing
- End-to-end security and admin control
- Team channels and one-on-one messaging
- Video and audio conferencing
- Easy file searching
Microsoft Teams keeps getting better. Features like direct routing and virtual backgrounds are recent additions to the portfolio. The company also keeps adding new ways to make Microsoft Teams help you become more productive.
4 – Zoom
Zoom is one of the world’s best known video conferencing tools. If you want a quick and easy way to communicate over video, Zoom makes it easy. All you need to do is click a link to get started.
Zoom offers extra features on top of video, like Zoom Chat (a dedicated messenger), and Zoom Phone. Features like in-line translation and transcription make it easier for people to connect.
Zoom’s virtual backgrounds and hand-raising features make meetings more immersive too. With a free business software option for beginners, Zoom is great for small companies.
- Quick and easy video meetings and webinars
- Conference rooms with waiting rooms
- Phone system options
- Zoom Chat for instant messaging
- Hand-raising and Q&A
5 – Mio Universal Channels
Finding a collaboration tool that works for everyone is tough. Everyone has their own preferences.
When you’re working with customers, suppliers, and contractors, things get tougher.
Mio ensures that working with people outside of your team doesn’t have to be a challenge.
Like Slack’s shared channels, Mio brings collaboration environments together. You can set up a universal channel from Slack and invite your contacts who use Microsoft Teams or Cisco Webex Teams.
Once in a universal channel, you can send, edit, and delete messages as you would in your preferred app. Mio translates them across platform and your contact receives the messages in their own platform.
And it’s not just messages that are supported…
GIFs, emojis, and, file sharing are all supported too.
If this sounds like something you need, try out up to three universal channels completely free here.
Free sales software for small business
According to Vlad Voskresensky, CEO of Revenue Grid, the right tools make happy customers.
“Your sales process needs to suit your audience. Even small businesses need to ensure they’re empowering sales teams. Find a tool that aligns your employees and provides insights on customer needs.”
We’ve outlined the best free sales tools for you to delve into:
1 – Streak
Built into Gmail, Streak helps companies keep their pipeline moving. Streak helps to put your business pipeline on autopilot.
Using the app is as simple as adding data to a spreadsheet. You can filter and sort through customer information and set notifications.
You’ll capture customer data from emails and contacts. Plus, you can set alerts when things in your system change. Streak also integrates with other Google apps like Docs and Sheets.
Another handy feature is view tracking, which shows when people read your messages. So, there’s no more guessing if emails are open – and you can tailor follow-up messages.
- Email snippet templates
- Mail merging for many addresses
- View tracking
- Send later scheduling
- Thread splitter
- Automatic data collection
- Integrations with G Suite
Streak has over 750,000 customers, and is free to use. You only need to pay if you decide you want extra features, like a core CRM or data validation.
2 – Really Simple Systems
Created for small businesses, Really Simple Systems is an entry-level CRM.
This software saves time and generates more sales with prospect tracking. You can improve the visibility of your sales pipelines and create more opportunities.
Once your prospects have converted, Really Simple Systems creates invoices and quotes from inside the Opportunities dashboard.
- Estimated conversion probability
- Weighted values for sales forecasts
- Opportunity lines that break down sales opportunities
- Opportunity history
- Powerful report writer
The free version of Really Simple Systems is available for up to 2 users. There’s no limit on how long you can use the free option.
3 – Agile CRM
Agile CRM is an all-encompassing CRM. Outside of the basic sales prospecting tools, you can access features like custom appointment calendars and drag-and-drop automation.
There’s the option to set up reports via email. Agile CRM also supports widgets and plugins for extra functionality too.
The free version of Agile CRM comes with support for up to 1,000 contacts. You can use custom data fields and lead scoring, as well as unlocking a helpdesk.
- Appointment scheduling
- Unlimited tasks, deals, and documents
- Email tracking
- Deal milestone alerts
The free version misses things like social media monitoring, but it’s still generous. There’s even support for email campaigns and web engagement analytics.
4 – Freshsales
Freshsales CRM (from Freshworks) offers a 360-degree view of prospects.
You can see where your employees are interacting with customers and automated data entry makes tracking pipelines a breeze. Plus, you can stay on top of appointments and tasks with deadlines.
The best thing about Freshsales is that it comes with an in-built phone and email sync.
There’s also lead-scoring, reporting, and event tracking. You never have to miss an opportunity again.
- Workflow automation
- Intelligent insights
- Full customer touchpoint tracking
- Integration with phone and email info
- Mobile app
Freshsales appeared in the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Sales Automation. The free version gives you complete access to the tool for 21 days.
5 – SalesHandy
SalesHandy is a convenient way to turn your emails into growth opportunities. You can add the extension to your Gmail or Outlook account in seconds. The service lets you schedule emails to reach out to prospects at the right time.
Automated follow-up options ensure you don’t lose track of a prospect. Plus, email templates are available for businesses to add a professional touch.
SalesHandy even takes your email behavior and transforms it into marketing campaigns.
- Extensions for Outlook and Gmail
- Email tracking
- Automated emails
- Schedule email responses
- Access to engagement data
The free version of the app is free forever. You get unlimited email tracking, but you won’t have access to premium features like custom domains and mail merge services.
Marketing software for small business
The “if you build it, they will come” approach doesn’t work in today’s world. If we’re honest, has it ever worked in small business marketing?
There are new small businesses opening all the time. Salesforce says millennials and Generation Z are 188% more likely to open their own small business than generations before.
Relying on word of mouth and referrals can only last so long. So, marketing software for small businesses is vital. But, marketing software is often associated with hefty monthly fees.
According to Co-Founder of the Graygency, Andy Gray:
“Keeping an eye out for a good legacy deal on AppSumo and other premium tools can be like winning the lottery. Every marketing tool won’t necessarily work for your business. Finding the right solutions can save, and earn you thousands in the long-run.”
We’ve put together the best free marketing software options for small businesses below.
1 – Screaming Frog SEO Spider
Screaming Frog is an SEO company that provides free tools to small businesses. The Screaming Frog SEO Spider software searches through your website for insights to bolster your SEO strategy.
The software is excellent for SEO auditing and points out where you need to upgrade and improve your site.
You can download and crawl up to 500 URLs for free or buy a license to access more URLs and premium features.
- Check for broken links and server problems
- Find temporary and permanent redirects on your website
- Analyze page titles and metadata for SEO issues
- Discover and remove duplicate content
- Review robots and directives
- Extract data for reports
- Create XML sitemaps
2 – Hotjar
One of the best ways to accelerate marketing campaigns is by getting to know your audience.
Analyzing where your customers click and what content they find useful and helps drive changes to existing content and development of new content.
HotJar uses heatmaps to track where customers spend the most time on your pages. As you can see below, the red heat patch tells us the most clicked button on the Dispatch blog home page is the Mio Pricing page.
Conversion funnels show you which steps audience members take before buying a product. You can also run surveys and feedback polls for extra data.
With a free option to get you started, HotJar is great for small businesses.
- Tracking for customer satisfaction and Net Promoter Score
- Heatmaps for website tracking
- Recordings for training purposes
- Conversion funnel reports
- Feedback polls and surveys
HotJar offers a window into your customer journey. As you understand what your customers need, your opportunities to sell will grow.
3 – Optimizely
Optimizely is a tool for improving your marketing ROI.
If you want to make sure you’re getting the most from each campaign, use Optimizely. With this tool, you can test your targeted messaging and personalize campaigns.
Optimizely ensures you can run constant A/B and multivariate tests. This increases conversion rates and improves revenues.
You can also access services for knowledge management and workflows.
- Product and marketing experiments
- Website activity tracking
- Easy A/B testing
- Experiment engine for workflows
- No-code visual editor
The full version of Optimizely is unlocked when you upgrade to the paid version. But, you can test the tools first to make sure they work for you.
4 – Canva
Canva is an easy-to-use tool for image editing and graphic design. It includes features for all forms of graphic creation like text formatting, pop-ups, cards, and infographics.
You can get templates for Instagram Posts and Stories. Canva also helps out with finding images for blog posts or Facebook covers too.
The simple visual editor means that companies can create professional assets. Whether you want to stand out with a great website, or a fantastic social profile, check Canva out.
The design tool is drag and drop, so it’s great for small businesses whose marketing teams are cross-skilled rather than design specialists.
You get access to a library of over 1 million photographs to inspire your next creation.
- More than a million images
- Templates for social media and content marketing
- Easy-to-use drag and drop editor
- Infographic designs
- Templated charts for case studies
Canva’s free trial is generous. You can unlock up to 8,000 free templates and more than 100 design types.
5 – Followerwonk
Followerwonk is a social media marketing tool used to search Twitter bios and connect with influencers and peers.
You can run analysis and compare twitter accounts to find overlaps in target audience.
Followerwonk offers reviews of your followers. Here, you get insights into locations and who they follow. You can also compare your relationships on social media to your competitors.
- Social authority analysis
- See followers and their locations
- Know when followers are active
- View follower losses and gains
- See the best time to tweet
- Reports on most engaging tweets
The free version of this app comes with a snippet into the full version. You can’t view follower losses and gains but you can track follower locations and view authority rankings with the free plan.
Free Small Business Management Software
What is the best software to run a small business?
Business management tools include everything from resource planning to client management.
Often, you need more than one app to manage your business and your clients. So, finding an all-encompassing management tool is a real gem.
Stewart Hodgson, Co-Founder of Fabrik Brands, says it’s important to have everything included in your management software:
“The right business software needs to provide an overview of your company. Everything from managing employees to content creation needs to align. That’s the only way to create a consistent brand image.”
We’ve selected five of the best small business management tools for you below.
1 – Odoo
Odoo is an open-source customer resource management and resource management tool. With a free version for beginners, Odoo is a great choice for smaller companies. You can track the time employees spend on tasks,and assign projects.
An inventory management interface helps to keep teams on top of product supply. You can also track which products are most popular through sales insights. This makes it easier to determine where to focus future production efforts.
Odoo continues to add new features to its lineup all the time. Currently, you can build websites, invoice customers, and manage your POS all in the same space.
- Timesheets and project management
- CRM technology
- Point of sale management
- Inventory management
- Website builder
- App development
- Invoicing and accounting
- Email marketing automation
2 – Plutio
Designed to simplify running a business, Plutio is a leading tool for small companies.
The app provides time tracking features to see how long crucial tasks take. and an overview of all tasks in progress. Project management tools make it easy to keep teams on track with deadlines. Once completed, invoicing is a cinch as it’s all in the same interface.
Plutio also helps with pitching and proposals. Professional in-app templates ensure you make the right impression on your would-be clients.
With an easy-to-use and intuitive dashboard, Plutio is a delight for any user. There’s even a feature-rich inbox with integrated real-time messaging. All that, and you get a great CRM too.
- CRM customer management
- Inbox with real-time messaging
- Proposal design
- Invoice design
- Painless time tracking
- Project management
3 – Timecamp
Timecamp helps companies to track and improve their business performance. The more you know about your team and how it’s operating, the more you can optimize.
Ranked as the easiest to use tool by B2Crowd in 2020, Timecamp is great for beginners.
You can integrate Timecamp with leading services like Asana and Podia. Plus, this time tracking software works al on its own. Your employees don’t need to do anything to get started.
Business leaders can assign projects to team members. There’s a time-tracking mobile app for people on the move. You can even access GPS tracking for employees away from the office. On top of that, you also get project management services and an attendance tracker.
- Convenient time and location tracking
- Mobile and desktop app
- Project management tool
- Team management
- Integrations with leading tools
- Attendance tracker
- Computer time tracker
4 – Shift
This desktop application pulls messages from different environments into one space.
You can browse through WhatsApp, Asana, and Facebook messages in the same app. If your team spends a lot of time jumping between tools, Shift can help.
There’s a section on the Shift UI for tools that team members use every day. This tab offers access to things like Slack and Microsoft Excel. The dedicated browser means that teams can search, collaborate, and work in the same place.
- Dedicated business browser
- Intelligent extensions
- Streamlining for different email apps
- Calendar access
- Easy access to all your files
5 – Deputy
The Deputy tool helps with scheduling staff based on demand and availability. You can notify staff of their schedules through the desktop or mobile app.
There’s a real-time stream of attendance information on the platform. Here, business leaders can track who’s on shift, who’s running late, and who’s available for work.
Deputy includes file sharing too so you can send documents to team members to help them with tasks and attach files to a project assignment. You get your own news feed where you can track info in real-time.
- Intelligent scheduling
- Mobile, web, and desktop app
- Shift swapping
- Auto scheduling
- Leave management
- Task assignments
- File and news sharing
- Real-time attendance tracking
Best accounting software for small business use
What is the best free accounting software for small business?
The best free accounting software helps you to stay on the right side of the tax office. These tools assist with things like cash flow projections and asset management.
So, how do you know which tools to use? Is there a free version of Quickbooks? Where do you look?
Although Quickbooks offers a free trial, it’s not the only option for accounting. You can find plenty of alternatives that offer great capabilities too.
Martin Brook at Gold Stag Accounts says there are a few key elements to look for in accounting software.
“You need to ensure the software is a good fit for the business. It needs to do everything required and more. Think about invoicing, reporting, and VAT returns. The cloud-based tech that’s multi-user is the best.”
Here’s our selection of the best accounting software for small businesses. We’ve chosen these tools for their value, usability, and accessibility.
1 – CloudBooks
Ideal for smaller companies, CloudBooks is a free invoicing and accounting tool.
You can create professional invoices for software and physical products. This solution helps with accepting online payments and tracking owed money. You can even use the software to send quotes and estimates.
If you want a quick and affordable way to customize invoices, CloudBooks can help. There’s a free trial that lasts for 30 days with access to all features, including:
- Dozens of invoice templates
- Recurring invoice support
- Branding and customization options
- Quotes and estimates
- Payment tracking
- Expense reporting
CloudBooks is a basic small business accounting software option. But, if you’re just getting started, this tool should have everything you need.
2 – Wave
Wave is an award-winning product that makes managing your money easier. You can sign up with Google or create a new account from scratch. The free service offers easy reports for tracking expenses and payments.
There are premium extensions available for Wave accounting software too. You can connect Wave accounting software to payroll and payment tools.
Creating professional invoices is a breeze. There’s an option to set up recurring billing and automated payments too.
Wave comes with checkout and payment management tools too. Enabling Payments by Wave comes with a per-use fee.
Features of Wave include:
- Tracking and reports for business health
- Month-to-month and yearly comparisons
- 256-bit encryption for security
- Free customizable invoices
- Tracking for Shopify transactions
- Connect to various payment options
3 – Pandle
Pandle doesn’t appear on every list of accounting software. But this tool deserves more recognition. Pandle makes managing your books easier. That way, you can spend more time running your company and less time handling numbers.
The software pulls transaction information from your bank accounts. Aside from storing transaction information, Pandle categorizes them too. Business owners get paid faster with payment links and custom invoices. Automated reminders are available for late payouts.
Features of Pandle include:
- Stripe feeds and bank imports
- Invoicing and quotations
- Recurring transactions
- Currency management
- Custom report creation
- Support for extra users
- VAT management tools
- Payroll integrations
Some parts of Pandle need a premium subscription. For example, automatic bank uploads and multi-company management are both parts of the pro version.
4 – Quickfile
The right accounting software makes running your business a sinch. The less time you spend chasing invoices, the more time you focus on growth.
The free small business software from Quickfile is a great choice for beginners. With Quickfile, you automate aspects of your accounting.
Connect to banks and web services so you can see your income in one place. Quickfile integrates with over 300 web services and banking feeds.
Quickfile has templates for invoices and branded quotes. There’s a reminder setting for invoices to boost your chances of getting paid on time.
Extra functionality like cloud backups will need a premium account. You can test a lot of the features on the free version before you spend, though.
- Receipt uploading
- Branded invoices
- Automatic reminders
- Automated bank feeds
- Simple back-end dashboard
- Tagging for receipts and invoices
- VAT support
- Rich reporting
- API for connections with other back-end systems
5 – FreeAgent
FreeAgent is another award-winning accounting software for small businesses. FreeAgent comes with an app so you can capture receipt information on the move. There’s an invoicing tool and a reporting function for cash flow documents.
FreeAgent simplifies managing your expenses with automatic reminders and invoice updates. You even get suggestions on how to find an accountant. The software comes with a directory of trusted accounting partners to explore.
The best thing about FreeAgent is its interface. The dashboard is clean and easy to use – offering a full overview of your business finances in one place.
- Tax and cash flow estimates
- VAT information
- Payroll integrations and time tracking
- Advanced security features
- Visual dashboard with custom reports
- Smartphone app
- Branded invoices
FreeAgent shows you where your money comes from. The more you know about your ingoing and outgoing expenses, the easier it is to attract investors.
Finding the best small business software
There are tons of tools out there to pick from. Some of the best accounting software for small business comes with a free trial. There are solutions for remote work and external collaboration. Or you can even download apps to track team performance.
The best strategy? Find out what’s holding your team back. Track down the gaps in your workflow and find ways to overcome them. Then implement the best software to suit your needs.
For instance, if you’re having trouble connecting with external contacts, don’t forget you you can install your first three Mio Universal Channels for free.
In a world where teams often jump between several apps each day, Mio Universal Channels simplifies teamwork at an intercompany level.