Best Small Business Tools to Grow your Small Business

There are a million small business tools and software options for all of your business needs, but how do you know which ones you need? We want to help you grow your business by showing you the best software for small businesses in any industry.

Small business software can help you manage everything from file sharing to social media. There is software for a small business that will help you optimize your customer service, your business plan, and grow your business. Business owners need to know this information in order for customers to find them.

Growing businesses is tricky, but when you find the right software for a business of your size, it’s a game-changer. There are plenty of resources available for you to get going. Find which options are best for you and your company, and the success will follow.

Whether you’re the owner of a small software business, a brand new storefront, or a growing online entrepreneur, there are plenty of resources to support your development. It’s important to have the right HR support, payroll management system, and marketing platforms. You can find a ton of free and cheap subscriptions to services that will help you with these things and more.

The fact that you’re here means you’re ready to hit the ground running. You’ve got the drive, so why not get the right tools to propel you and your brand into success? Grab a cup of coffee, something to take notes with, and get motivated.

Let’s be honest, we’re not all former spelling bee champs. Even the best of us can slip up on grammar when we need to write a lot of content. No need to hire a full-time copy editor. Grammarly is a free online spelling and grammar tool that offers a premium version for more avid users. You can double check copy for your blog posts and landing pages using Grammarly. If you’re hiring contractors to write copy for you, Grammarly has a tool to check for plagiarism to make sure you’re not paying for someone else’s content. Customers care about the quality of your copy more than you’d think, and it’s worth the extra few minutes it takes to check your content on Grammarly for errors.

Small businesses that rely heavily on invoices will want to look at FreshBooks as an accounting solution. When taking a look at accounting software for small businesses, FreshBooks offers the most customization options for invoices. Business owners who are regularly invoicing contractors are able to pay print, receive, and send invoices all through FreshBooks.

And while FreshBooks is mostly known for its ability to send invoices, it also offers a good selection of other easy to use accounting tools. Like QuickBooks, FreshBooks is cloud-based. You’re able to use FreshBooks on mobile or web. It also boasts free and easy integration with apps like Shopify, Gusto, and the Google Suite. And as you might expect from a cloud-based app, FreshBooks has a nice user-friendly interface.

One of FreshBooks’ biggest perks for small business owners is its pricing model. FreshBooks uses a subscription pricing model that starts at just $15 per month for its Lite plan. They also offer a 10% discount for small business owners that choose to pay yearly instead of monthly, and a 60% discount on the first 6 months to get you started.

Okay, well it’s not free, but it’s pretty darn cheap for a solid small to medium business bookkeeping software. Pabbly starts at just $9 a month and does a lot of the heavy lifting for you.

So what exactly do you get for $9 a month? Pabbly shows you metrics that will help you manage your financial plans and projections. With Pabbly, you can easily see your active customers and new subscribers in one place. You can also track important accounting metrics like monthly payments and net revenue.

Pabbly also automates certain business actions for you. This accounting and bookkeeping software will free up your time to focus on other aspects of your business. Pabbly will automate your workflows (which, trust me, can take a lot of fraught bookkeeping hours if done manually). Pabbly can also automate your customer communication and invoices.

Sometimes, a company’s base price is deceiving, and you’ll actually owe a lot more than what you’re quoted. Pabbly’s $9 per month is straightforward. They don’t charge an additional transaction fee, they won’t force you to increase your subscription if your revenue increases, and they offer a ton of free third-party integration options.

Whether you’re a tiny and mighty business or a steadily growing mid-sized business, there’s a bookkeeping software solution out there for you. There are a ton of free and reasonably priced software options for your business. It’s important to assess your individual needs and select the software that will allow you to manage your bookkeeping and grow your business.

If we’re one of many articles you’ve tabbed to research small business payroll tools, you’ve likely come across Gusto already. And for good reason — Gusto offers a wide array of services to help small businesses with a competitive pricing model.

So first, let’s talk about pricing. Gusto’s cloud-based payroll service starts at $39 per month. You’ll be charged an additional $6 a month per each managed employee on your Gusto plan. This subscription pay model is highly competitive for a small business with a fluctuating number of employees. Often, payroll softwares charge a fee for adding more employees to the system with tiered pricing. So, if you’re paying for a plan that includes 1-20 employees, and you add a 21st employee, the price difference would be much greater than the $6 difference between employees that Gusto offers.

But what does that price get you? Gusto offers automatic tax filing on the local, state, and federal level. Gusto also automatically generates and shares W-2 and 1099 tax forms, and helps new hires file with the state. You can track PTO and integrate accounting programs like Quickbooks with Gusto. Unlike most other payroll software, Gusto offers automatic workers compensation billing and wage garnishment deductions. All of this comes with the most basic Gusto plan.
And, if that’s not enough, Gusto is all cloud-based. A cloud-based payroll software can help minimize setup time, and is especially useful in a time in which many small businesses are remote.

Photo editing or graphic design software for a business with just a few employees can run pretty high. And if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easy to get lost trying to make promotional images or social media graphics. That’s why Canva is a great free cloud based tool for small businesses.

For the novice marketer, Canva offers a multitude of graphic design templates. You’ll be able to create everything from Instagram stories to business cards to ebooks in minutes with Canva’s straightforward platform. Canva is fully online, and you can create a group account for your business so that all of your assets remain in one spot.

Even for someone with a more advanced background in graphic design, Canva is one of the best free options. Templates will save you a ton of time, but the customization options are truly endless. You can use color codes and a wide variety of fonts to make sure your branding is on point.

You’ve definitely heard of YouTube, and you’ve likely heard of Vimeo, but have you heard of Wistia? Wistia is a video hosting platform that allows you to easily embed videos into your website. Their clean coding will make your web developer very happy. Beyond that, Wistia offers advanced analytics and tools to help you optimize your video content. With Wistia, you can create call-to-actions in your video that will direct viewers to another page or collect their contact information like email addresses or phone numbers. Additionally, Wistia offers super cheap transcription services so you don’t have to spend hours doing that work yourself.

When you’re promoting landing pages in your social media posts, it’s never a good look to include a link that’s several characters long and includes a bunch of random %!/[email protected]^!symbols. Bit.ly is a free link-shortener. Shortened links means you have more characters freed up for your important tweets. A paid version of bit.ly will give you even more customization and control over your digital marketing. With a paid subscription to bit.ly, you can use custom short urls, view analytics, and integrate your account with other marketing automation tools you’re using.

Small businesses, especially those at the beginning of their operations, should prioritize customer feedback. Their feedback will tell you what you need to know about how your product or services are being received. Additionally, customer feedback can be used as a powerful marketing tool. Reviews from real customers build brand trust. Reviews on sites like Yelp and Google are super helpful, but using a tool like SurveyMonkey can help small businesses get even more specialized feedback from website visitors. With SurveyMonkey, you can simply email out a custom survey to past customers and view all responses in one place.

Email marketing is a super valuable tool for your business if you use it right. MailChimp is a great resource that allows you to use it with no cost until your subscriber base exceeds 2,000 people. You can customize templates and schedule your email marketing campaigns with MailChimp’s easy to use platform. MailChimp also provides you with valuable email marketing analytics, so you know which of your campaigns are performing the best.

Need a part-time social media coordinator? Need to contract a marketing automation specialist, a content marketing expert, or an email marketing wizard? UpWork is the place to go. UpWork has a vast network of creative and technical contractors that are looking for work on a short-term, recurring, or full-time basis. You can easily look at freelancers’ profiles to see their rates, examples of past work, and reviews from previous employers.

Social media marketing is a super important facet of business these days. Having a platform to schedule all of your social media posts will help you stay organized and keep track of your audience engagement. HootSuite is a free tool that allows you to schedule social media messages in advance. You can send the same message out on various social platforms, and easily edit posts to fit the requirements of each site. Plus, HootSuite allows you to respond to social media comments through their platform.

HARO stands for “Help a Reporter Out,” and that’s exactly what this marketing tool does. It’s equally beneficial to a business looking to get more press for their brand. HARO has a few tiered subscription offerings, including a free version. Each day, HARO will email you three times a day with requests from media outlets and reporters. Each email will include various topics for which reporters are seeking content. So for instance, you might see a news outlet looking for sources to discuss marketing efforts for new businesses. If your business has an interesting social media presence, you could respond briefly detailing your marketing efforts. If they like what they see, they could quote you in their article, giving your company free digital marketing. Honestly, HARO takes some time to get used to, but the free marketing can be worth the effort.

HubSpot is best known as a CRM, but it’s also a great tool to manage your digital and content marketing efforts. HubSpot offers a multitude of content marketing tools, including a library of educational content. If you don’t know where to start with creating marketing content, their HubSpot Academy is basically a free college course on utilizing marketing tools to promote your company. HubSpot’s marketing tools include a blog manager with built-in keyword research tools, a dashboard containing easy-to-interpret marketing analytics, and built-in project management tools. With HubSpot, you can track projects, promote them, and then analyze their success all in one place.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed in a sea of marketing tools. There are hundreds of options for just about any type of marketing you’d want to do. So how do you choose the best ones? It’s important to make sure you’re doing your research. The email newsletter platform you’re using could be free now, but do you know how much it will cost when you want to add 100 more subscribers? And yeah, that website builder bought a million ads on your favorite podcast, but did you look at the reviews to see what their customers are actually saying?

Hopefully this list gave you a few good options to help you grow your small business with. So get out there and start building your brand!

If your small business is customer-facing, you’ll likely need a good CRM sooner than later to manage your contacts and communication. HubSpot offers paid subscriptions for larger companies, but its free CRM software is nothing to scoff at.
With HubSpot’s free CRM, you can manage customer information, view your contacts’ activity on your website, and create tasks for salespeople or other employees to follow up on. HubSpot fully integrates with Gmail and Outlook, so you can create free email templates and workflows.

HubSpot’s free plan extends beyond the CRM software to offer you a full suite of marketing tools. And if you don’t know where to start, that’s okay! HubSpot has a robust content library to teach you everything you need to know about marketing, sales, and more. And if that doesn’t cover your needs, their 24/7 customer service team is super friendly and knowledgeable.

Email newsletters can be a huge asset to your small business if you know how to use them. MailChimp is one of the best free newsletter services for a multitude of reasons.

First, MailChimp allows you to send up to 12,000 emails to up to 2,000 subscribers without cost. Even if you’re sending out 3 emails a day, you won’t hit your cap for over a decade. Those are some pretty competitive stats when looking at other big email newsletter services.

Also, MailChimp’s interface is super user friendly. This applies to both its design features and its metrics. Rookies will find it easy to use their pre-made templates to achieve clean, professional email designs. More advanced marketers will be impressed by the high level of customization allowed by MailChimp. Additionally, MailChimp shows you a ton of analytics in an easily-digestible way so you can learn what’s working and what’s not.

Small business owners are often juggling a million tasks at once. You’ve got to think about your product, your customers, your employees, your finances…the list goes on. Having a clear and organized platform for internal communication will help you grow your business and avoid headache.

Slack is a Type A’s dream. It is a great tool for organizing communication. Slack allows you to create multiple channels in order to discuss various things with your team. So, for example, your team might have a slack channel dedicated to HR, one dedicated to website updates, and one dedicated to pictures of your employees’ cute kids and dogs. That way, you can navigate to a conversation about your site’s new landing page without having to wade through a million pics of Ana’s new corgi. Slack also offers private channels, so you can ping people individually or in small groups with messages pertaining just to them.

Slack is available as a cloud based app for desktop and mobile, so you can communicate in the office or on the go with ease. Slack also offers a ton of third party integrations. HubSpot is one of the many integrations offered with Slack, and you can use it to respond to customers through your site. So really, Slack is great for both internal and external communications.

Trello is a free online project management tool that every small business owner should know about. If you want to get all your eggs in one basket, or rather, all your projects in one place, look no further.

Trello is a very satisfying online business tool for a visual learner. With Trello, you can create various project boards that hold cards pertaining to different tasks. Tasks can be assigned to individual users, which will be notified via email. When tasks are completed, the users can physically drag the cards to another part of the Trello board. It’s honestly worth actually looking at, especially if you are the target demographic visual-learner that Trello appeals to.

And if your business needs some help understanding how to best use an online project manager tool, Trello offers a few avenues of support. At the top of Trello’s navigation bar is a button titled “inspiring boards” which will provide you with examples of how companies use Trello’s tools to support their business. Trello also offers free online webinars for the small business owner looking to expand their organizational skills and knowledge. Trello integrates with several other online small business software applications, like Gmail and Slack.

These days, social media can make or break small businesses. Having an online social media software for business like Hootsuite will help you stay organized and think long-term.

Hootsuite is a free online social media scheduling tool that allows you to plan your posts in advance and distribute them across multiple channels. So, instead of sitting there and typing out the same message four times, you can just tell Hootsuite to send your message to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram all at once. Or, if you want to go a little deeper and look at your analytics, you can schedule messages for different times.

Whether you’re a small software business, a brand new storefront business, or a fully online company, Hootsuite has tools to help your business streamline social media messaging.

QuickBooks has quite a bit of name-recognition in the business world, and for good reason. They’ve been around for a while, and they’ve certainly adapted to the times. That itself might be desirable to you. You have a company that’s growing and changing, why not use tools that will grow and change alongside you.

QuickBooks Online is used by small businesses around the nation, which means there’s plenty of activity in the user forums and training resources. If you’re brand new to bookkeeping and accounting tools, this comprehensive knowledge database could be a huge perk for you. Another big perk of QuickBooks Online is that it’s all cloud-based. You can access it through a web browser or a mobile app, which is great for small business owners that are regularly traveling.

QuickBooks gives you a 30 day free trial of their Simple, Essentials, Plus or Advanced subscription. Each level has a different base price, starting at $25 per month for the Simple plan. QuickBooks often offers more specialized pricing on their accounting software to small businesses, so it’s worth actually getting someone on the phone if you’re interested.

On top of its user-friendly nature, its large knowledge database, and its scalability, QuickBooks also integrates well with other apps. For instance, small businesses that use Stripe or Paypal for credit card purchases are easily able to integrate that purchase data into their quickbooks accounting software. Plans above the basic level offer more features, such as time tracking, inventory management, and budgeting support. Again, it’s worth getting a QuickBooks representative on the phone to help you customize your accounting software plan at the right price.

First things first, Wave is free. Did you hear that? Free. It’s free. Yeah, I know.

Wave is ranked as one of the best free bookkeeping software solutions for a frugal business owner. Why? Well, besides not breaking your bank account, this free software offers businesses an unlimited number of users, no transaction or billing limits, and the ability to run multiple businesses with one account.

Wave covers all the basics. You’ll get free receipt scanning and invoicing for your business (although with admittedly far less invoice customization than FreshBooks). This software also covers your expense tracking and financial reporting. Wave is a mobile and web friendly software option. And did we mention…it’s free?

But, of course, a free software this high quality comes with a couple downsides. And honestly, they might not be deal breakers for a savvy business owner, but it’s worth knowing. Wave charges 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction for most major credit cards, and 3.4% on MasterCard transactions. Wave also has limited third party app integrations and no inventory management options.

If you’re looking for an all-in-one bookkeeping and payroll software option, Wave is no longer free. Wave offers this bookkeeping/payroll software hybrid for a base price of $20 per month and $6 per employee. And honestly, that’s not too bad, considering the bookkeeping side is still free.

Intuit gives Gusto a run for its money when it comes to pricing. Small business owners only need to pay $20 a month plus $2 per employee for the Intuit Basic plan. Here’s what you get with the basic plan:

  • paychecks for all W-2 employees
  • an automatic calculation of taxes (but not filing)
  • free direct deposit
  • real-time support

As you can see, the resources for Intuit Basic are pretty bare-bones,  but if you’re just getting started, you might not need all the bells and whistles of other payrolling systems.

For $31.20 per month, Intuit offers a plan called Enhanced. On top of the features listed for the Intuit Basic plan, Enhanced offers tax form completion, tax filing, and payment options. If you’ve got a larger budget set away to run payroll, Intuit’s Full Service plan will run your payroll entirely. For $79 per month, Intuit will set up employees’ direct deposits, offer time tracking, workers’ compensation, and more.

Small business owners might already be familiar with Square as a point of sale tool (and if you’re not, you may want to look into Square as a solution for accepting card payment in a storefront environment). If you’re already using Square to accept payments, Square Payroll could have a leg up for its ease of integration. Square Payroll is an especially advantageous payroll software for small business managers with hourly employees, as it allows users to clock in and out using the Square app.

Square Payroll costs $29 per month, plus $5 per employee. Square Payroll automatically files taxes on a federal, state, and local level. It uses funds from your company balance to automatically pay employees without waiting on bank approval. Square also offers live customer support to help you get the most out of your plan.

ADP is super well-known in the HR world. You could think of ADP payroll as an HR software with payroll as a service. They really offer a wide array of services and prices, and that’s why they made the list. While ADP is not ideal for a super small business, their payroll software is a great option for a rapidly growing or midsize business.

First, the numbers. ADP’s payroll pricing is entirely custom based on your business needs. That means you’re not paying for more than what you need. So if you need time tracking and employee self-service, but no other bells and whistles, they could give you a custom quote on an essentials only plan. As your business grows, ADP allows you to scale up your payroll software plan with ease.

However, if you are already looking for a more comprehensive payroll and HR software for your business, ADP offers a handful of other options. In fact, ADP’s hybrid HR/payroll software options are some of the most highly reviewed in the industry. Their enhanced plan offers employee background checks and state unemployment insurance management. A step up from that is the complete plan, which gives you access to HR support via phone and email, employee handbook templates, advanced HR reporting, and detailed onboarding support. When you’re ready to scale  up your business to over 100 employees on payroll, their HR Pro plan includes all aforementioned perks, plus more.

Really, the biggest perk of ADP is its flexibility. If a lot of growth is in your future, and you’re worried about the headache of assessing future payroll and HR needs, ADP could be a great solution. Their payroll support team will guide you through the process of getting started and tackle some of the growing pains for you.

Whereas ADP payroll is great for a growing or midsize business, OnPay payroll is especially beneficial to very small businesses. One of its most obvious perks is its user-friendly payroll interface. Even a quick visit to their website proves just how much they prioritize functionality and access.

OnPay has a base fee of $36 per month, plus $4 per person on payroll. And you’re only billed for employees who are paid each month. So if you’ve got contract employees not working during a season or workers on leave, you won’t be charged. They also offer a free one-month trial, so you can give it a go before committing full force.

OnPay will automatically file your W-2s and 1099s. You can choose to pay employees with direct deposit, debit card, or use OnPay to print checks. OnPay payroll also offers automated withholding and tax filing, as well as accounting and time tracking integrations.

The days of handling small business payrolls by hand are long gone. Whether you’ve got one employee or 60, there’s a payroll software out there to help you save time and grow your business. We hope this list helps you find the right payroll option for your small business, so you can stop fretting the details and focus on the future.

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