Small businesses are always on the lookout for a competitive advantage, and many are finding those advantages through software. Software tools alleviate pain, reduce cost, increase productivity, and streamline operations. We now live in an era where many of these tools are not only being built specifically for small businesses, but they’re becoming extremely affordable to purchase. Companies are recognizing that software can accelerate their growth and automate many of the manual processes that are currently being done today.
As a small business software provider, we thought it’d be appropriate to make a list of some of our “must-have” solutions. These companies come highly recommended (from us and others) and have the potential to make an enormous impact on your business.
So without further ado, here are 20 of the best software tools for small businesses:
You can’t run a business without money. Financial and payment software is critical to get right for any business, regardless of what industry you’re in. You’ll likely need software to help with accounting, financial reports and forecasts, payment processing, and more.
Here are some of our top software picks for help in the world of finance and payments:
What is Divvy? Divvy is a corporate credit card and expense management software platform. Not only will they provide you with as many corporate cards as you need, but they’ll also allow you to use virtual cards for basically any purchase. And because you’re using their credit cards, they know what you (and everyone else in your company) spend money on. Divvy will use this data to automate expense reports and give you real-time visibility into the spending and budget of each of your departments.
Why we love it: There are many reasons to love Divvy, but the one at the top of our list is the fact that it’s absolutely free. Yes, you read that right, free. Divvy makes money on the credit card exchange fee and doesn’t charge users a penny. Combine that with the time it saves and there’s almost no reason not to sign up.
What is Stripe? Stripe markets itself as the “payments infrastructure of the internet” and frankly, they’re exactly what they claim to be. Stripe has made it incredibly easy to take payments online. Whether you’re running an eCommerce store, a SaaS business, a services company, or anything else, you won’t find an easier way to process payments than with Stripe.
Why we love it: Like Divvy, you can sign up and use Stripe for free. They make their money by charging a small transaction fee for every payment they process on your behalf. This means you’ll only ever be charged for what you use. We also love Stripe for its wide-reaching analytics that helps you visualize how your revenue is growing.
What is Square? Like Stripe, Square is a payment processing platform. However, Square specializes in in-person or in-store payments. You’ve likely used a Square device to process a payment at a boutique or restaurant in the past. You’ve also likely swiped your credit card in a small, white, square plug-in that attaches to a smartphone. Square makes it easy for small businesses to take payments anywhere.
Why we love it: Square has grown from a payments company to a “do-it-all” company. Their product offerings have expanded from processing payments to doing things like running payroll, offering loans, offering debit cards, and so much more. We also love that Square was built with small business owners in mind from the beginning and that their primary focus is to help small businesses grow.
What is Quickbooks? Perhaps the most well known and established software product on this list, Quickbooks has been the number one accounting software for SMBs for years. Quickbooks aggregates all your financial data and information and helps to get you prepared for tax season.
Why we love it: One reason to love Quickbooks is the numerous integrations into the platform. The previously mentioned companies (Divvy, Stripe, and Square) all have Quickbooks integrations, as do many other software companies. Quickbooks has become so ubiquitous with accounting for small business that nearly every financial platform has prioritized an integration.
Read the latest on why all small business owners are adopting HR software to manage their people.
Once you’re set up to take payments and manage your finances, you’re going to need to bring some customers in the door. Software can help make the sales and marketing process easier by giving you tools to manage your customer database, create and deploy marketing campaigns, develop relationships with customers, and so much more.
Here are some of our top small business software picks in the sales and marketing category:
What is Hubspot? Hubspot is a versatile platform that blurs the lines between sales and marketing. They offer a massive suite of products that range from CRM tools, marketing tools, customer service tools, and more. It’s a great one-stop-shop for many of your sales and marketing needs.
Why we love it: We’ve found Hubspot to be incredibly user-friendly, especially compared to competitors in the space. We have also been blown away by how many of their tools they give away for free. This is one of the main reasons we recommend Hubspot for small businesses; they have amazing free tools to get you started. If you need a little bit of everything, Hubspot is a great option.
What is Mailchimp? Mailchimp built its reputation as being the easiest, most affordable, and most user-friendly email marketing tool. They continue to offer great options if you’re looking to create and distribute email marketing campaigns, and you can even use their service for free. Beyond email, Mailchimp has expanded its offering to include website creation, website analytics, and content creation.
Why we love it: Our love for Mailchimp starts with how easy it is to use. We feel like even the most inexperienced technology users can dive into Mailchimp and start creating email campaigns within minutes. We also love that they give a lot of tools away for free. As Mailchimp’s product offering grows, it only becomes more appealing, especially for the price.
What is Buffer? Buffer makes social media management simple. Whether you need to plan and schedule posts, create meaningful content for your desired audience, improve engagement, or dig deeper into the analytics of your social channels, you can do it with Buffer.
Why we love it: There are many reasons to love Buffer, and not all of them have to do with their software. For a long time, we’ve admired Buffer’s brand, their content (Buffer’s blog is an incredible resource), and the way they’ve built their company. On top of all this, they’ve built an awesome product that’s easy to use and saves businesses a lot of time. Having a strong presence on social media is more important now than it ever has been in the past. Buffer makes this simple.
What is Podium? Podium is the leading review-generation platform for small businesses. As customers become more and more reliant on public reviews (think Yelp, Google, Facebook, and similar review sites) it’s critical that your business is able to generate more positive reviews than the competition. And because 90% of customers say reviews impact their purchase decision, using a service like Podium will immediately bolster your bottom line. But that’s not all. Podium also gives your business tools to engage and interact with your customers via text, to help you build and solidify those relationships.
Why we love it: Podium is built specifically to help small businesses dominate their local listings. You’ve probably noticed that the companies with the most reviews often show up at the top of the search results in Google. One of the best ways to grow your business is to get in front of more customers, and Podium helps you do this by securing more reviews than your competition. We think the ROI on Podium is huge, and the effect it has is lasting. If you can’t already tell, we’re big fans.
Human Resources/People Ops
As an HR software company, we’d be remiss to leave out small business software tools that focus on the people within your organization. After all, without the ability to hire, manage, pay, and care for your employees, you won’t have much of a business. While HR software can save companies hours of time and automate many of the repetitive processes and tasks that small business owners face on a daily basis, it is also critical for compliance purposes. HR is a more regulated space than sales or marketing, and so it’s important that you use tools to keep your company on the right track.
What is Eddy? Ok, we admit it. We’re not afraid to put our own company on the list of the best software tools for small businesses. Why? Because Eddy is among the best, most complete HR solutions for SMB companies. Eddy helps businesses with all aspects of their HR department, including hiring, onboarding, PTO, time-tracking, payroll, training-tracking, document storage, reporting, and more. If you’re searching for a comprehensive HR solution that’s priced for small businesses, look no further than Eddy.
Why we love it: Well, we might be a little bias when answering this question, so instead, we’ll let some of our customers do the talking. One customer described using Eddy as being so easy that it was equivalent to “teaching a teenager how to text.” Another customer mentioned that Eddy saves them 15 hours every week. A third customer brought their Glassdoor rating from 3.9 to 4.9 within months of adopting Eddy. Small businesses everywhere are using Eddy to save themselves time and money.
What is 15Five: 15Five is a management tool that allows you to track performance, keep a pulse on employee happiness and engagement, perform weekly check-ins across your company, and conduct better one-on-one interviews. The 15Five suite of products encompasses just about everything you’ll need to keep teams productive, motivated, and happy, regardless of where they work. And with built-in analytics, it’s easy to visualize your company’s progress over time.
Why we love it? Keeping tabs on employees became more difficult after the COVID-19 pandemic forced many of us to work from home. Without consistent in-person interaction, it’s more difficult to know what employees are doing on a daily basis, and whether or not they’re staying productive. 15Five eliminates many of these worries and gives managers and business owners all the tools they’d ever need to stay in the loop. We also love that for really small teams (20 employees or fewer) they offer a free version of the product.
What is Gusto? Gusto is a payroll software platform built specifically for small companies. Gusto is among the simplest, easy-to-use, payroll solutions on the market. They automate many of the tasks and complexities that typically make running payroll a pain, and they do it in a delightful way. In addition to payroll, Gusto has other HR tools such as employee benefits management which will help you provide affordable health care coverage for your employees.
Why we love it: Gusto is a very friendly solution for small businesses with small teams. They’ve truly built their product to serve these customers well, and they’ve priced it in a way that’s affordable. Gusto is also very easy to use. Their no-frills approach to design makes the product simple to navigate, and they’ve done a great job at making a complicated process like payroll appear easy.
What is Nectar? Nectar is employee recognition software for the modern workplace. Using Nectar’s tools, you’ll be able to recognize and praise employees, reward them with points that they can redeem at places like Amazon or Nike, conduct engagement surveys, highlight employees who personify your core values, and more. The praise and recognition aren’t limited to management either. Employees can praise and give kudos to their peers for a job well done, allowing the whole company to benefit from the service.
Why we love it: Nectar is an affordable solution for companies that are looking to improve their culture. One of the frequent complaints we hear from employees is that they don’t feel valued within their organization. This is often because there is no clear, direct way for co-workers to praise and recognize the excellent performance of their peers. Nectar changes this and does so in a fun, rewarding way. We’re also a big fan of their “employee perks” program, which gives employees amazing deals to restaurants, hotels, and experiences in their local area.
Eddy has created an HR software solution designed specifically for small businesses. Learn more about how much time it could save your company!
Great businesses are built by great people. Those people need easy ways to organize their work, communicate their ideas, and collaborate together to get things done. Internal communication software tools for small businesses have become even more valuable in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies everywhere are scrambling to figure out how to best communicate with their employees and how to remain productive. To help you get this right, here are some of our favorite products:
What is Zoom? Well, if you haven’t heard of Zoom by now, you may be living under a rock. Zoom is the number one video conferencing software in the world, and the word “Zoom” has actually become synonymous with communication via video. They make it incredibly easy to connect with anyone, in the browser, without the need to download an application.
Why we love it: We love Zoom because it’s super easy to use and it works almost seamlessly. Within minutes of signing up, you can host a meeting with tens or even hundreds of people. We also love it because of its generous free tier. The free version of Zoom will likely work for most small businesses because it allows you to host up to 100 participants in a meeting that lasts up to 40 minutes.
What is Slack? Slack is a business messaging platform that allows internal teams to communicate via text, voice, or video. Slack also makes it easy for users to share documents, video files, or just about anything else you can think of. Its channels format captures conversations in a contextual area, making it easy to follow the information that’s important to you, and be unbothered by the information that isn’t relevant.
Why we love it: Slack is another company that has a very generous free tier that should work well for most small businesses. Slack’s free version allows you to add as many users as you’d like, store up to 10,000 of your latest messages, create unlimited private or public channels, and integrate apps into the product to help your team be more productive. In short, they give away a lot for free, and once you start using it, you may forget how you ever communicated in your business without it.
What is ClickUp? ClickUp brands itself as the “one app to replace them all” and guarantees that by using their platform you’ll save yourself one day a week. While we can’t personally confirm that claim, we have been impressed by ClickUp’s robust set of features. Whether you’re tracking to-do lists, managing projects, collaborating with teammates, brainstorming future plans, or monitoring progress on goals, ClickUp really can do it all.
Why we love it: ClickUp has become a favorite of ours because of its endless versatility. There really isn’t a lot you can’t do in ClickUp. And, as we’ve mentioned previously with our software tools, we have been extremely impressed with their free version. ClickUp is a great option if you’re wanting to cut back on tools but not miss out on functionality or flexibility.
What is Loom? Loom is quickly becoming a favorite tool for businesses of all sizes. Boasting over 90,000 customers and over 7 million individual users, Loom’s asynchronous video functionality has been lifted to new heights during the pandemic. To put it simply, Loom makes it easy to record and send video messages. Your recording can be through your laptop camera, your screen, or both your camera and screen simultaneously. Loom also makes it simple to share these recordings with teammates and colleagues so that you can communicate complex ideas quickly and clearly.
Why we love it: Loom fills a perfect need between writing an email and holding an in-person or live-video meeting. Some things are simply easier to explain and communicate visually, but it can be a hassle to gather people together for a meeting to see or present to them. Loom cuts out the need for a meeting (saving your business time) but provides the value of visual, person-to-person communication. And like many of the other products on this list, Loom’s free version is robust enough to get your business started.
Other software tools we love:
Zendesk is a customer service platform that allows you to manage all your customer interactions in one place. Zendesk is easy to use, has a huge suite of exceptional features, and can be accessed at an affordable price.
Canva is the easiest, fastest, and most convenient way to create and design content on the internet. And the best part? You can get a ton of value at no cost. Canva’s free platform has tons of features and options to take advantage of, while their paid version makes it even easier to design beautiful content. If you’re spending a lot of time designing ads or social media posts, try Canva.
Sometimes there is just nothing more frustrating than the numerous back-and-forth emails that have to be sent in order to schedule a meeting. Calendly eliminates this frustration and makes scheduling meetings easy and hassle-free. By integrating with your calendar, Calendly knows when you’re available and when you’re busy. When you go to schedule a meeting, it will allow your meeting partner to pick a time when you’re free. Calendly has free and paid versions that deliver enormous value.
When it comes to software, it can be frustrating that you have to use so many different tools. You won’t be the first to lament that you wish there was an easy way for all these software products to “talk to each other.” Well, that perfect world hasn’t arrived yet, but Zapier’s working to make that a possibility. Think of Zapier as the connecting platform between software products. If, for example, you need Slack to display a message to a salesperson when a new lead appears in your Hubspot CRM, Zapier can make the connection between these two services. It’s an amazing product that becomes more valuable with every software tool you decide to use.