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The Best Small Business Software in 2021

By Spike Team, January 06, 2021
work from home on laptop

Running a small business in a digital world is different from when it was in an analog world. Instead of needing to find real estate, you need to find a web host. Instead of needing a bookkeeper, you need a payroll service. Instead of needing a phone system, you need collaboration tools. What are the essential small business tools for accounting software, web hosting, email, collaboration, time tracking, and more? Let’s dive into the best small business software for starting 2021 out on the right path.

 

 

Small Business Accounting Software

Gone are the days of running a local Quickbooks server that is nearly impossible for multiple people to use together. On top of just purchasing the software license, small business owners would have to hire IT support to set up and configure the server. It was also cumbersome to access remotely, requiring the use of a VPN connection.

 

Today, there are countless options for small business accounting software that is easy to set up without hiring a technology integrator to get started.

Quickbooks

Quickbooks

 

Quickbooks offers multiple options for small business accounting that requires no upfront investment and can be accessed from any web portal. Small business owners and freelancers can manage all of their finances from a single place and send out invoices and collect payments.

 

 

Freshbooks

Freshbooks

 

Freshbooks is another popular solution for managing small business accounting. It started as a way to send invoices but has evolved into a full-fledged accounting solution. It can now track time, build project retainers and expenses.

 

 

Things to consider when choosing a solution

  • Can you easily run reports for accounting purposes?
  • Can you process credit cards?
  • Can you easily switch systems in the future?

 

Invoicing Solutions

If you’re looking for small business billing software, below here is a round up of the most popular invoicing solutions.

Zoho Invoicing

Zoho Invoice

 

Zoho Invoice is ideal for anyone who wants to create well-designed invoices for various purposes. Suitable for both freelancers and small businesses, there are plenty of features that allow you to manage invoices, payments, estimates, and expenses, with an additional time tracking feature that’s a big plus for freelancers.

 

Invoices, estimates, and sales order templates can be customized and branded with your corporate design, while automated workflows help you cut down the amount of time you spend on admin. Sharing invoices with your team is seamless, and real-time invoicing reports keep everyone in the loop when it comes to sales, expenses, and taxes.

 

Their platform includes integration with a range of third-party apps such as PayPal, Google, DropBox, and OneDrive and seamless connectivity to Zoho CRM. Additionally, multilingual and multi-currency invoices mean you can bill anyone in the world without having to use a separate app.

 

 

Bonsai

Bonsai

 

Bonsai positions itself as the best invoicing software for freelancers—and it doesn’t disappoint. Not only do you get a wealth of invoicing and payment options, alongside time tracking for single jobs and projects, but there’s also a bunch of useful resources to help you set your freelancing rates, information on tax and self-employment calculators, and an insightful freelancer blog to keep you ahead of the curve.

 

In addition to this, Bonsai integrates read-receipt notifications into your invoicing, so you always know when they’ve been received and read. Auto completion of information helps speed up the invoicing process, and multiple currency invoices are also available for freelancers working with clients in other countries.

 

 

Square

Square POS System

 

Square is very much one for those businesses that also sells products or services out in the real world. Alongside its comprehensive online invoicing, estimate, and job deposit features, Square provides a range of smart tech that allows you and your employees to take all kinds of payments wherever you sell.

 

Square’s hardware includes:

  • Contactless chip & pin readers
  • Miniature magstripes
  • Full-size payment registers ensure you’re covered for everything from your weekly farmer’s market to a permanent store

 

Naturally, Square is perfect for small businesses that make most of their sales while out and about; however, the vast range of invoicing options available make Square supremely flexible. In addition to Square’s hardware and face-to-face payment options, you’ll also find the Square Online Store that hosts a bunch of eCommerce tools alongside payroll features and customer loyalty program options.

 

Things to consider when choosing a solution

  • Can automated reminders be sent?
  • Are there integrations with your accounting solution?
  • Can you set up automatic invoicing for retainers?

 

 

 

Time Tracking

Time tracking for a small business owner might seem irrelevant, but it can matter when determining which clients are profitable and which ones are not. You don’t need an old-fashioned stopwatch to track time, and you can use apps and services to automate the process and even substantiate your invoices.

 

 

Toggl

Toggl small business software for time tracking

 

Toggl is one of the most popular tools to track your time as a small business owner or freelancer. Toggl works on the web, as a mobile app, or even as a browser extension. Regardless of whether your team is in the office or remote, Toggl will make tracking time a breeze. Toggle can integrate with your calendar to track meetings, monitor which software apps you are using, and integrate with over 100 different applications. If you’re working on a specific project with a retainer, Toggl will keep your team on time and budget.

 

 

Clockify

Clockify Time Tracker

 

Clockify is a simple time tracker and timesheet app that lets you and your team track work hours across projects. It’s free for your entire team, so Clockify is an excellent option for your team if budget is a concern. It works on mobile devices, as a browser extension, and desktop applications.

TrackingTime

Tracking Time

 

TrackingTime is a great web-based solution if you need to manage time for a team of people. It has a robust reporting system for project budgeting, client billing, payroll, productivity analytics, and much more. It’s free for up to three users, and $5 per user per month after that.

 

 

Things to consider when choosing a solution

  • Do you need it to integrate with your invoicing solution?
  • Does it scale as your team grows?

 

 

 

Website Hosting

Hosting a website used to be complicated, but now it’s a turn-key solution for small business owners. Countless companies offer all-in-one packages for hosting, designing, and managing a website.

 

 

Squarespace

Squarespace Web Hosting

 

Squarespace is a drag and drop website editor with built-in hosting. You’ll start with a professionally built template, adjust your colors, and start adding your content. You don’t need to know any code to build a website that looks great on desktop, mobile, and tablets.

 

Squarespace also supports built-in e-commerce solutions so you can set up an online store, accept payments, offer subscriptions, or let people book appointments with you. All payment processing is handled through Stripe or PayPal.

 

 

WordPress.com

WordPress web hosting

 

WordPress powers nearly 40% of the websites on the internet, and it can be installed on your server. WordPress.com is a hosted WordPress solution. WordPress.com websites are built using ’blocks to add text, photos, forms, Yelp reviews, testimonials, maps, and more.

 

You can also set up an online store and accept payments using PayPal while offering multiple options for your customers to patronize your company. Backups are built right into WordPress.com websites for a low monthly fee.

 

 

Things to consider when choosing a solution

  • Do you need a designer to help choose fonts and colors?
  • Do you have a logo?
  • Does it integrate with your accounting system?

 

 

 

Team Collaboration and Project Management Software

Ensuring everyone is on the same page regarding collaborative work can sometimes seem more of a hassle than it’s worth. Managing projects across multiple teams, both in-office and remote, takes organization and planning. Here is a round up of the top team collaboration software.

 

 

Spike

Spike Project Management

 

Sometimes, less is more, and Spike is the perfect team collaboration tool that doesn’t overcomplicate things. For teams that need to communicate and keep up with project calendars regularly, Spike has everything you need to be integrated into a single app, on a single screen, providing an incredibly unified workspace. You can use it alongside your favorite team tool from our list or manage everything directly from within Spike.

 

Spike balances the best of email and instant messaging to bring you a 21st-Century approach to conversation and collaboration. It ensures the perfect mix of synchronous and asynchronous communication methods, meaning you can chat when you want and focus when you don’t.

 

Spike also packs in a calendar that can be easily shared with team members, integration with popular cloud storage services such as Google Drive and Dropbox, and powerful file management and search features. Spike’s powerful digital workspace combines email, chat, file-sharing, collaborative notes, tasks/to-dos, and more. All you need is an email address. Simply put, it’s the ideal tool for team collaboration and will revolutionize the way you work.

 

 

Monday.com

Monday.com

 

Beginning life as Wix’s in-house project management tool, monday.com’s potential as a piece of standalone project collaboration software was soon recognized. One of the platform’s most popular features is its broad range of project templates, meaning getting your projects up and running is a breeze.

 

Choose a template that fits your use case or workflow, customize it to iron out the finer details, invite your team to join through email, and collaborate through a centralized dashboard that takes care of all your conversations, files, briefs, checklists, and sheets. Everything is highly visual, and managing your projects once they are up and running is highly intuitive.

 

 

Trello

Trello

 

Trello is entirely web-based, so for teams that are spread across continents and who rely on different technologies (think Mac, Windows, Linux, and mobile integrations), it’s among the very best pieces of online collaboration software around. The dashboard itself is based around the Kanban methodology, employing boards, lists, and cards with drag-and-drop functionality to manage your projects.

 

The highly visual approach to project management and collaboration is easy to set up and offers integration with the most popular third-party apps available today. It also syncs seamlessly across all of your devices, allowing you to add comments, attachments, due dates, and much more from wherever you are working.

 

 

Zoho

Zoho Projects

 

Zoho Projects is one part of a much larger suite of tools that provide comprehensive integration with everything from CRM to invoicing platforms. It’s among the best collaboration tools for teams who need to work together on specific projects and liaise with other departments for a truly holistic approach to company collaboration.

 

The timeline-based project management tool allows you to plan, track visually, and monitor projects with ease, and while it may not be as attractive as some of the other apps on this list, it has plenty of advanced features to offer. Create task lists and milestones, get in-depth insights with Gantt charts, and track time for both billable and non-billable hours, which can then be integrated directly with Zoho Invoice.

 

 

Asana

Asana

 

As one of the most well-established team collaboration tools on our list, Asana has won plenty of fans over the years. It’s used by some of the world’s biggest companies, including Uber and Intel, to name a few. It packs plenty of useful features into a relatively intuitive interface and dashboard while also integrating third-party apps such as Google Drive and Microsoft teams.

 

You can set up projects, add individual tasks assigned to specific team members, manage multiple projects across your calendar, and easily share information with the right people. Additionally, project tracking tools such as custom timeline management, visualized workflows, deadline management, and custom vital metric fields help you and your team monitor your collaborations in new and insightful ways.

 

 

Things to consider when choosing a solution

  • How easy is it to learn?
  • How do you onboard clients and team members?

 

 

 

Email

There two typical business email providers for small businesses and both of them are fantastic solutions. Microsoft and Google are the leading players in the business email ecosystem.

 

 

Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365

 

Microsoft 365  is a subscription-based service that includes business email (@yourdomai.com) and Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneDrive, and OneNote). You’ll need to be savvy enough to configure your domain’s MX records to Microsoft, but after that, no IT services are required.

 

 

Google Workspace

Google Workspace small business software

 

Google Workspace is a robust ecosystem of connected applications to foster collaboration. Included in Google Drive is Google Email (Gmail), Google Docs, Google Slides, and Google Spreadsheets. Your team can collaborate on documents without needing to be in the same physical location. Google Drive keeps everything in sync across all types of devices as well. Gmail works across all your devices for corporate email, including a fast web interface.

 

 

Business Chat

A business chat solution should enable teams to communicate in ways that are secure, allow for times of disconnection, multi-device access, as well are archive conversations for compliance reasons.

 

 

Slack

Slack Business Chat

 

Slack is a workplace communication tool and is described as a single place for messaging, tools, and files. It has become a popular small business software solution. Slack is essentially a chat service with many options for integration with third-party tools like Twitter, Zapier, and more. There are two methods of chat in Slack: channels (group chat), and direct message or DM (person-to-person chat). Slack works on the web, Windows, Mac, and mobile devices. Slack was purchased by Salesforce in 2020 for 27.7 billion.

Teams

Microsoft Teams small business software for chat

 

Teams is Microsoft’s business chat tool and is included with an organization’s Microsoft 365 subscription. It combines instant messaging, video conferencing and file collaboration to facilitate digital communication between teams.The goal of it is to combine that chat functionality of Slack with the video conferencing power of Skype and the collaboration sensibilities of Google Drive into a single workspace.

 

 

Spike

Spike Groups small business software for business chat

 

Spike is a business chat service that works as an email client, but also includes team chat using Spike Groups. Spike Groups are a collaborative workspace for teams and clients, for both personal and business needs. They combine long email threads into an easy to use chat-like interface that also includes Document Collaboration, File Sharing, and tasks right along your existing email.

 

 

Things to consider when choosing a small business software chat solution

  • Can you use it internally and externally?
  • Does it allow you to snooze messages and use scheduled send when chatting?

 

 

There’s never been a better time to be a small business owner when looking at a digital transformation. Almost every solution you’d need to run your business is completely web-based and can be accessed from any device with an internet connection. What are your favorite apps for small businesses? Let us know @SpikeNowHQ.

FAQ for Small Business Software

Even if you’re a freelancer, you need a dedicated system to track invoices and expenses. Relying on invoices from Microsoft Word or Apple Pages might seem easy, but you’ll lack a solution to track accounts payable as well as make filing your year taxes more complicated as you must manually compile all of your data. An accounting solution will make reports easy to compile.

There are two basic requirements to qualify for the home office deduction. You need to use a portion of the home exclusively for conducting your business on a regular basis and the home must be your principal place of business. Deductible expenses for business use of the home normally includes the business portion of real estate taxes, mortgage interest, rent, casualty losses, utilities, insurance, depreciation, maintenance, and repairs. In general, you can’t deduct expenses for the parts of your home not used for business. These deductions include lawn care or painting a room not used for business.

 To claim the home office deduction, you must use part of your home for one of the following:

  1. Exclusively and regularly as a principal place of business
  2. Exclusively and regularly as a place where patients, clients or customers meet in the normal  business
  3. A separate structure that’s not attached to a home that is used exclusively and regularly for your business
  4. Storage of inventory or samples used in a trade or business of selling products at retail or wholesale
  5. For rental use
  6. As a daycare facility

To qualify for a deduction, the equipment and services must relate directly to your business and used primarily for it. If you buy a smartphone for your business, you can deduct the purchase price. If you have paid apps you need to run your business. You can also deduct those costs. The deduction also applies to subscriptions: If you’re a freelance podcaster, you can expense your Internet and any audio equipment.

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