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The Best Small Business Software in 2021

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By Spike Team, January 06, 2021
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Running a small business in 2021 means engaging with the digital world – whether talking to your team, building a sales pipeline, or just staying on top of your paperwork. So, to help you engage efficiently, we’re looking at the good and bad of essential small business software. 

 

From accounting software and tax programs to web hosting, email, and collaboration tools, check out our list of the best pieces of small business software in 2021

 

Committing to new small business software is a big deal, so it’s essential to know what to look for before starting your search. We’ve examined software against six key criteria before breaking it down into how it’s used. These critical factors are: 

  1. Price

    Is the software at the right price point for your business? Small businesses are generally going to need something affordable without sacrificing features. 

  2. Design

    Design is an important part of any product and is something that many people overlook when seeking out software. If the project tracker you have to use every day is clunky and ugly, it can quickly create problems. 

  3. Ease of use

    Modern software should be intuitive and easy to use. The how and why of features should be clear with minimal onboarding. 

  4. Scalability

    You might be small now, but you won’t be forever. Many SMBs are looking to scale, and you must find software that can grow with you. 

  5. Support

    Sometimes, you might need a bit of help to maximize the use of your software. Having support on hand provides peace of mind for troubleshooting and helps you realize the potential of your programs. 

  6. Impact

    Exactly how does a piece of software help your business? Does it solve a problem? Bring additional benefits? If there is no business impact, then maybe it’s time to look elsewhere. 

 

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 

Project Management tracker

 

Sometimes, less is more, and Spike is the perfect team collaboration tool that doesn’t overcomplicate things. Spike has everything you need integrated into a single app on a single screen, providing an incredibly unified workspace. 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.

 

Spike is designed as a modern piece of software, meaning simple layouts that are easy to tailor to your business needs. With light and dark modes and options to choose how you see messages, the design is optimized around the user. 

 

The software starts with an email address, any email address, which makes onboarding teams a piece of cake. What’s more, since people can be added to groups and brought into the loop even if they aren’t using Spike, it means no temporary accounts or difficult workflows when communicating with people outside of your organization. Additionally, with macOS, Windows, iOS, Android and web apps, it can be used anywhere, anytime. 

 

For individual users, Spike is free and can be upgraded as your business grows. Its features are as useful to a team of two working in a garage as they are to a multi-office company with sales around the world. Communication is a key factor in any business and Spike consolidates internal and external channels into a single, easy-to-use package.

 

 

Price

  • Personal plan (Unlimited personal addresses) – Free
  • Solo plan (1 Business account) – $12/account/month billed annually
  • Team plan (2+ Business accounts – $8/account/month billed annually
  • Business plan (20+ business accounts) $16/account/month billed annually
  • Enterprise – For larger teams contact sales

 

 

Support

  • Personal plan – Basic support
  • Solo plan – Priority support
  • Team plan – Priority support
  • Business plan – Dedicated account manager

 

 

Monday.com

Monday.com

 

In terms of design, Monday.com allows you to 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.

 

Monday.com requires members to sign up and be onboarded in order to get your team working together. That said, once everyone is on there, everything is highly visual, and managing your projects once they are up and running is highly intuitive. Monday.com starts with two seats and goes all the way up to enterprise-level, meaning it can also grow with your business.

 

It is project management at its core, so will be focused on helping this aspect of your business. If integrated with other apps or software, such as communication software, then it can help with the general flow of productivity.

 

 

Price

  • Individual (Up to 2 accounts) – $0
  • Basic (3+ accounts) $8/account/month billed annually
  • Standard (3+ accounts) $10/account/month billed annually
  • Pro (3+ accounts) $16/ account/month billed annually
  • Enterprise – Case by case basis

 

 

Support

All plans include:

  • An online wiki
  • 24/7 customer support (prioritized for paid plans)
  • Daily live webinars

 

Enterprise plans have, in addition:

  • Dedicated customer success manager
  • 99.9% uptime SLA

 

 

Trello

Trello

 

The design is based around the Kanban methodology, employing boards, lists, and cards with drag-and-drop functionality to manage your projects. 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 Kanban methodology around which it is based is also a very visual way of managing tasks and projects, making it an easy piece of software to pick up. 

 

One of Trello’s strengths is its simplicity, but this also leads to some challenges when trying to scale it beyond a certain point. This is especially true when projects, teams or company structures grow in complexity. That said, if each team or individual is working on their own set of tasks without much need to intersect, it works well. Automations, which are included with paid business packages, can also increase the ease of use tenfold. 

 

 

Price

  • Free (unlimited cards and boards, up to 10 members) – $0
  • Business-class (teams up to 100) – $10 account/month billed annually
  • Enterprise (100+ accounts) – Custom pricing

 

 

Support

  • Free – None
  • Business-class – Priority email support
  • Enterprise – Priority email support

 

 

Zoho Projects

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. 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.

 

The fact that Zoho is a more comprehensive tool than some others on the list means the onboarding process is slightly harder. Additionally, since it is one part of a suite of tools, knowing which one to access for what task can be tricky. What makes Zoho slightly tough to use is what makes it a very scalable option. It has solid tools for teams of any size.

 

 

Price

  • Free (2 projects) – $0
  • Premium (up to 50 users) – $5/account/month billed annually + $3/client user/month
  • Enterprise (unlimited users) – $10/account/month billed annually + $3/client user/month

 

 

Support

  • Wiki, webinars, and online information for all accounts. Additionally, there is a contact form and email support service on the website. 

 

 

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.

 

Asana can be intimidating at first due to the number of features included in a single interface. That said, small businesses who have experience with any project management software should find everything relatively familiar.

 

 

Price

  • Basic (limited features up to 15 users) – $0
  • Premium (Basic + additional features) $10.99 account/month billed annually
  • Business (Premium + additional features) $24.99 account/month billed annually
  • Enterprise – custom pricing

 

 

Support 

  • All of the paid plans on Asana have priority support with enterprise also offering the option for serviced accounts.

 

 

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. Quickbooks now has a modern user interface and is accessible from a variety of devices, bringing this classic SMB software up to date. What’s more, as your team grows, so does your accounting software, with the opportunity to add new users and expand the tools you use. Small business owners and freelancers can manage all of their finances from a single place and send out invoices and collect payments.

 

 

Price

  • Simple Start (1 user) – $12.50/month for the first 3 months then $25/month
  • Essentials (3 users) – $20/month for the first 3 months then $40/month
  • Plus (5 users) – $35/month for the first 3 months then $70/month
  • Advanced (25 users) – $75/month for the first 3 months then $150/month

 

 

Support

  • All plans have access to basic support, but only the advanced plan has a dedicated accounts team and on-demand training. 

 

 

Freshbooks

Freshbooks

 

For those familiar with invoicing software, the design will feel very familiar. On the downside, this makes the software feel a little stale. However, it is incredibly easy to use when switching from other software. 

 

What’s more, FreshBooks caters to businesses of all sizes, from freelancers with a handful of clients to unlimited clients, making it a scalable software that grows with your business. It allows SMBs to keep track of invoices as well as expenses and recently has evolved into a fully-fledged accounting solution. It can now track time, build project retainers and expenses. 

 

 

Price

  • Lite (5 billable clients) – $6/month billed annually
  • Plus (50 billable clients) – $10/month billed annually
  • Premium (Unlimited billable clients) – $20/month billed annually
  • Select (Unlimited billable clients + other features) – custom pricing

 

 

Support

  • FreshBooks offers online support and webinars for all plans as well as email and phone support. Select users are offered a dedicated support number. 

 

 

Sage

Sage

Sage for small businesses offers the ability to manage invoicing, cash flow, tax, payments, and more all through the cloud. It has a modern design and a relatively friendly user interface. It is part of a wider group of products, which can be helpful if a business is adapting, as well as offering medium-sized services allowing natural growth. 

 

 

Price

  • Sage Accounting Start – $10/month
  • Sage Accounting – $25/month

 

 

Support

  • Sage offers a knowledge base, forums, and training for its entire product range. 

 

 

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. Zoho Invoice is part of a wider range of software which means that as your business grows, you can add the tools you need, letting your invoicing solution scale with you. 

 

The 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.

 

 

Price

  • Free (invoice up to 5 Customers, 1 User, 5 Automated Workflows) – $0
  • Basic (invoice up to 50 Customers, 1 User, 5 Automated Workflows) – $9/organization/month when billed annually 
  • Standard (invoice up to 500 Customers, 3 User, 10 Automated Workflows) – $19/organization/month when billed annually 
  • Professional (unlimited Customers, 10 User, 10 Automated Workflows) – $29/organization/month when billed annually 

 

 

Support

  • Wiki, webinars, and online information for all accounts. Additionally, there is a contact form and email support service on the website. 

 

 

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.

 

It’s well designed and easy to use, but at the end of the day it is designed with freelancers in mind so doesn’t really scale well with a business. What it does really well is integrate payment options and automated features in a simple interface that can help freelancers get paid promptly. 

 

 

Price

  • Workflow – $19/month
  • Workflow Plus – $29/month

 

 

Support

  • Workflow Plus offers priority support to users. 

 

 

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 makes 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.

 

 

Price

Square pricing works on a per-transaction basis, which works out to be:

  • 2.6% + 10¢ processing rate
  • $0 monthly fee
  • $0 hardware fee

 

 

Support

  • Square offers a support center with online articles, live chat, phone and email support.

 

 

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

 

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.

 

Toggl’s modern interface is a far cry from your kitchen timer and makes tracking individual tasks, projects, or entire workflows simple. Toggl offers plans for freelancers up to large teams, meaning as time tracking software it can grow with your business. This will help keep individual team members, as well as projects and tasks on track and on deadline. 

 

Price

  • Free (up to 5 users) $0
  • Starter – $10 account/month billed annually
  • Premium – $18 account/month billed annually
  • Enterprise – custom pricing 

 

 

Support

  • There is an online knowledge base, but only the enterprise solution has priority support.

 

 

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.

 

It is clearly designed with a friendly user interface. However, the similarities it bears to task and project management software could cause some confusion. The free starting point is great for new businesses and makes it a great time tracking software to grow with over time. 

 

 

Price

  • Free – a free forever plan at $0
  • Basic – $3.99 account/month billed annually
  • Standard – $5.49 account/month billed annually
  • Pro – $7.99 account/month billed annually
  • Enterprise – $11.99 account/month billed annually

 

Support

  • There is online support for all plans, including free plans, as well as in-depth tutorials, phone support, email support, and live chat. 

 

 

TrackingTime

 

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.

 

Bright, block colors and stacked tasks give TrackingTime a modern design that is intuitive for users of any other time tracking or project management software. The integrations can also help as your business scales and you need new tools, and with customizable timesheets, you’ll be able to increase your number of employees without changing software. 

 

Price

  • Free (up to 3 users and 3 projects) – $0
  • Pro (unlimited) – $5 account/month billed annually

 

 

Support

  • TrackingTime has an online support center with searchable articles as well as a single, general email contact. 

 

 

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. 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. Squarespace is all about good design and simplicity of use, making it a great option for small businesses looking for a web builder and host all in one. 

 

In terms of growing with your business, Squarespace is able to continue to deliver a high-quality site regardless of the size of your needs. However, if you need any advanced features or are you looking to customize your site, it will quickly fall short. 

 

 

Price

  • Personal – $12/month
  • Business – $18/month
  • Basic Commerce – $26/month
  • Advanced Commerce – $40/month

 

 

Support

  • All plans come with 24/7 customer support. There is an online help center with videos, articles, a forum and webinars along with contact details for customers. 

 

 

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.

 

The design of WordPress CMS is rather clunky, regardless of where it is hosted, and it also has a relatively steep learning curve. That said, it is a very powerful website backend offering numerous plugins that can help you shape a site to your exact needs. This freedom is also what makes any managed WordPress hosting a great choice to grow with your business. 

 

 

Pricing

WordPress CMS is free and open-source. These plans are for hosting on WordPress.com 

  • Free – contains advertisements and no unique domain – $0
  • Personal – $4/month, billed yearly
  • Premium – $8/month, billed yearly
  • Business – $25/month, billed yearly
  • eCommerce – $45/month, billed yearly

 

 

Support

  • Personal – Email support
  • Premium – Email and live chat support 
  • Business – Email and live chat support
  • eCommerce – Email and live chat support

 

 

Siteground

SiteGround

 

Siteground is a well-designed and modern host for a number of Content Management Systems, including WordPress. The back end of the hosting is very user-friendly and easy to use, with a clear layout making even difficult hosting tasks simple.

 

Its numerous different packages, depending on usage (number of visitors, etc.), allow you to scale websites when you need to and grow your hosting with your business.

 

 

Price

For Managed WordPress Hosting: 

  • StartUp – $4.99/month, billed yearly, moving to $14.99/month, billed yearly
  • GrowBig – $7.99/month, billed yearly, moving to $24.99/month, billed yearly
  • GoGeek – $14.99/month, billed yearly, moving to $39.99/month, billed yearly

 

 

Support

  • 24/7 online support via email ticketing system with priority support for GoGeek customers. 

 

 

Shopify

Shopify is a purely e-commerce platform, but for small businesses, it can be the simplest way to get a product out in the world. It is well designed with an intuitive user interface designed for non-techy people to get selling online.

 

The sites are surprisingly customizable considering it is an out-the-box builder with the ability to hardcode changes as you grow and look for greater control. Shopify can help your business take the leap into online retail without worrying about the how, with numerous payment integrations, social channel integrations, and connections with existing marketplaces.

 

 

Price

  • Basic Shopify – $ 29/month 
  • Shopify – $79/month
  • Advanced Shopify – $299/month

 

 

Support

  • Shopify offers an online help center, forums and 24/7 support. 

 

 

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 (@yourdomain.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.

 

The email interface is traditional, making it familiar to many users, but a little outdated. What’s more, you’ll need to be savvy enough to configure your domain’s MX records to Microsoft, but after that, no IT services are required. All of Microsoft’s projects are designed to scale well, making it a great option for businesses looking to grow quickly. 

 

 

Price

  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic – $5/user/month paid annually 
  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard – $12.50/user/month paid annually 
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium – $20/user/month paid annually 

 

 

Support

  • All three of these business plans have access to support on the phone or the web anytime along with a 99.9% financially backed uptime guarantee

 

 

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.

 

Where Google really excels is design and ease of use, with simple and intuitive interfaces and quick-to-start products. Its interconnected ecosystem can also make keeping on top of various aspects of your business simple, such as jumping from email to video calls and back. 

 

 

Price

  • Business Starter – $6/user/month paid annually
  • Business Standard – $12/user/month paid annually
  • Business Plus – $18/user/month paid annually
  • Enterprise – Custom pricing 

 

 

Support

  • All accounts have “standard support” with the ability to upgrade to “Enhanced Support”, which enterprise solutions already have.

 

 

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 archive conversations for compliance reasons.

 

 

Slack

Best Team Communication Apps

 

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.

 

It has a sleek design that focuses on messages and the division between Channels and DM, as mentioned before, is very user-friendly and intuitive.

 

 

Price

  • Free (limited features) – $0
  • Pro – $6.67/user/month paid annually
  • Business plus – $12.50/user/month paid annually
  • Enterprise – Custom pricing

 

 

Support

  • There are articles and wikis for support, but only Business Plus offers dedicated support with 99.99% guaranteed uptime and 24/7 support with a four-hour response time. Enterprise solutions have a designated account and customer success team.

 

 

Teams

Instant Messaging Apps for Business

 

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 the chat functionality of Slack with the video conferencing power of Skype and the collaboration sensibilities of Google Drive into a single workspace.

 

If you’re familiar with other Microsoft products, the design is very much in line with them. It is simple to use for the basic functions but does require some time to explore and understand the more technical aspects, with business accounts requiring administrators to enable some features.

 

 

Price

  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic – $5/user/month paid annually
  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard – $12.50/user/month paid annually
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium – $20/user/month paid annually

 

 

Support

  • All three of these business plans have access to support on the phone or the web anytime along with a 99.9% financially-backed uptime guarantee.

 

 

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 with your existing email.

 

 

 Price

  • Personal plan (Unlimited personal addresses) – Free
  • Solo plan (1 Business account) – $12/account/month billed annually
  • Team plan (2+ Business accounts – $8/account/month billed annually
  • Business plan (20+ business accounts) $16/account/month billed annually

 

 

Support

  • Personal plan – Basic support
  • Solo plan – Priority support
  • Team plan – Priority support
  • Business plan – Dedicated account manager

 

 

Rocket.Chat

Rocket.Chat is an open-source alternative for chat that works within your team as well as externally with customers, suppliers, and partners. It has a modern design, which is very similar to other chat-only apps, making it easy to use but not a stand-out experience.

 

Rocket.chat is heavily focussed on security and is designed to be used in any size business.

 

 

Price

Self-hosted

  • Community (Limited, but good, functionality) – $0
  • Pro – $3/user/month billed annually
  • Enterprise – Custom pricing

 

Saas

  • Bronze – $2 per user/month billed annually
  • Silver – $4 per user/month billed annually
  • Gold – custom pricing

 

 

Support

  • Email support is available for all accounts, but self-hosted problems will generally have to be dealt with in-house.

 

 

Google Chat

Google’s solution to instant messaging for small businesses, Google Chat offers direct messages and team chat rooms through a user-friendly and well-designed interface. It was initially part of Google Workspace but is now available to all Gmail users.

 

As small business software, it could be very useful for those already in the Google ecosystem and as with any Google products, can be scaled up as your business grows.

 

 

Price

  • Free – $0 for Gmail users
  • Business Starter – $6/user/month paid annually
  • Business Standard – $12/user/month paid annually
  • Business Plus – $18/user/month paid annually
  • Enterprise – Custom pricing

 

 

Support

  • All accounts have “standard support” with the ability to upgrade to “enhanced support”, which enterprise solutions already have.

 

 

Appointment Scheduling Software for Small Business

Scheduling appointments is a key part of many small businesses day-to-day, but as you start to scale it can become increasingly difficult to stay on top of your schedule, which is where appointment software comes in.

 

 

Calendly

 

Calendly has a clean, modern and very user-friendly interface for automated scheduling of both online and in-person meetings. What’s more, it includes automated follow-ups and reminders to take even more off your plate.

 

The user interface is just as simple for your customers as it is for you, which can greatly improve your chances of generating viable leads when compared to sending emails back and forth. Additionally, its numerous plans enable step-by-step scaling so your scheduling software can grow with your business.

 

 

Price

  • Basic (individuals) – $0
  • Premium (small teams) – $8/user/month when billed annually
  • Pro (teams with additional needs) – $12/user/month when billed annually
  • Enterprise – Custom pricing

 

 

Support

  • Basic – Self-service support center and standard email support
  • Premium  – Self-service support center and 3-hour email support
  • Pro – Self-service support center, 3-hour email support, and live chat
  • Enterprise – Self-service support center, 3-hour email support, live chat, phone support

 

 

Acuity Scheduling by Squarespace

As a Squarespace company, it’s no surprise that Acuity Scheduling’s design is impeccable with a very clear user interface. Customization helps make it yours while maintaining ease of use for both you and your customers.

 

While it is great for individuals or very small businesses, you might struggle to scale with this software if your needs grow in complexity.

 

 

Price

  • Emerging (1 staff/location) – $14/month billed annually
  • Growing (6 staff/locations) – $23/month billed annually
  • Powerhouse (36 staff/locations) – $45/month billed annually

 

 

Support

  • There is an online help center with articles on potential issues as well as “live scheduling parties” for webinar-style help.

 

 

10 to 8

10 to 8 is an automated scheduling solution with a less streamlined design than the other product mentioned, but a host of tools and integrations that make it scalable and impactful. This can reduce no-shows which cost small businesses time and money through tools such as automated SMS reminders. What’s more, with a heavier focus on enterprise clients, 10 to 8 is able to provide an incredibly useful service completely free of charge for small businesses.

 

 

Price

  • Small Business (2 users + 100 appointments) – $0
  • Basic (2 users + 100 appointments) – $9.60/month paid annually
  • Grow (3 users + 300 appointments) – $20/month paid annually
  • Bigger Business (6 users + 600 appointments) – $40/month paid annually
  • Enterprise – Custom pricing

 

 

Support

  • Online support is available for all packages, except the Bespoke Package which offers both online and phone support.

 

 

Tax Software for Small Business

If there is one thing that it’s important to get right as a small business, it’s tax. As such, having reliable, affordable software can take the stress out of tax season and allow you to focus on actually running your business.

 

 

Turbotax

 

Probably one of the best-known pieces of tax software, Turbotax allows small businesses to decide the level of help they need, from DIY to a complete handoff to a professional. It simplifies the tax process with a focus on ease of use, but still leaves something to be desired in the design department. That said, the range of services means that whether you’re filing as an individual or corporation, there is something for you.

 

 

Price

There are numerous different specialized price options for Turbotax, so below is a cross-section showing the range.

 

DIY

  • Free Edition – $0 for federal and state taxes
  • Deluxe – $60 + state
  • Self-Employed – $120 + state

 

Live help

  • Basic – $80 + state
  • Deluxe – $120 + state
  • Self-employed – $200 + state

 

Full service

  • Basic – $130 + state
  • Deluxe – $200 + state
  • Self-employed – $290 + state

 

Support

  • There is online support across the entire platform, and depending on which plan you choose, the level of support you receive will change.

 

 

H&R Block

 

As part of a wider suite of small business tools, H&R Block offers tax preparation either online with support or through the use of a tax expert. The design is clean and simple with a process that is streamlined for ease of use.

 

With 100% Accuracy Guarantee, according to the company, it can help small business owners enjoy some peace of mind over their taxes.

 

 

Price

  • File online with help – from $195.00 +  $44.99/state filed
  • Pro filing – custom pricing and options

 

 

Support

  • The online offering includes online documentation while the pro filling has year-round tax support.

 

 

TaxAct

TaxAct offers a similar, but cheaper, alternative to TurboTax, with a slightly more clunky design, user experience, and layout. It is a good option for small businesses that are watching their bottom line and have cost as a key consideration.

 

As with other small business tax software, it can be scaled with your business meaning it grows when you do with incremental brackets.

 

 

Price

  • Free Edition – $0 for federal and state taxes
  • Deluxe – $47.95 + state
  • Self-Employed – $94.95 + state

 

 

Support

  • There is an online support center as well as email and phone support.

 

 

Inventory Management Software for Small Businesses

Ordoro

Ordoro

A single platform that optimizes small business fulfillment workflows with bulk shipping label creation, inventory management, dropshipping, and other features. It is enterprise software at heart, and the user interface and design reflect that. However, as a small business, they offer attractive prices to help stay on top of stock. At the same time, when you grow, Odoro will grow with you, with the ability to manage as much inventory as you can handle.

 

 

Price

  • Express – starts at $59/month
  • Pro – starts at $499/month
  • Enterprise – starts at $999/month

 

 

Support

  • Ordoro offers small businesses support via email or phone.

 

 

Zoho Inventory

 

As previously mentioned, Zoho offers a selection of different small business software tools, which makes it a great option for those looking to customize their experience. It enables SMBs to keep track of stock, order fulfillment, and inventory through user-friendly interfaces.

 

The dashboard is designed like other software, making it familiar enough to be intuitive while still having a distinct look.

 

 

Price

  • FREE – $0/organization/month
  • Standard – $59/organization/month billed annually
  • Professional – $99/organization/month billed annually
  • Premium – $159/organization/month billed annually
  • Elite – $239/organization/month billed annually

 

 

Support

  • Email and phone support 24 hours a day, Monday to Friday.

 

 

InFlow

 

InFlow is an all-in-one small business software for inventory management, available cross-platform so you can stay on top of business at the office, home and on-the-go. It has a visual, intuitive interface and clean design that anyone familiar with e-commerce will find easy to use.

 

Online and in-person features make it easy for small businesses to sell however they want. What’s more, the various plans range from 100 sales a month to 10,000+ sales so InFlow can scale alongside your business.

 

 

Price

  • Light – $71/month billed annually
  • Standard – $179/month billed annually
  • Plus – $449/month billed annually

 

 

Support

  • InFlow offers a comprehensive Knowledge Base as well as videos, a blog, webinars, and forums.

 

 

Email Marketing Software for Small Businesses

Marketing is an important part of any small business, and email campaigns are still highly effective. As such, it can be important to include easy-to-use email marketing software as part of your suite of products.

 

 

Mailchimp

 

The most well-known of all email marketing software for small businesses, Mailchimp offers sleek design both behind the scenes and in the email you send. The tools it offers are comprehensive, but this does make for a slightly hard-to-use interface if you’re not familiar with the platform.

 

Mailchimp is able to handle and organize many tens of thousands of contacts so is a great choice for small businesses looking to scale. Regular emails can help drive sales while automations can onboard customers, recover abandoned carts and more.

 

 

Price

  • Free (fewer than 2000 contacts) – $0/month
  • Essentials (up to 500 contacts) – $9.99/month
  • Standard (up to 500 contacts) – $14.99/month
  • Premium (up to 10,000 contacts) – $299/month

 

 

Support

  • Essentials and Standard plans have 24/7 email & chat support, with Premium users also getting phone support.

 

 

Mailerlite

Mailerlite offers a pared-down approach to email marketing for small businesses, with all the tools in a much simpler user interface than competitors. It allows for subscriber management, helping you keep track of customers, as well as automations to drive sales or onboard clients.

 

The drag & drop editor is well designed and user-friendly, and email campaigns are designed for both a handful of contacts or thousands.

 

 

Price

  • Up to 1,000 contacts, 12,000 emails/month – $0
  • Up to 1,000 contacts, unlimited emails/month – $10/month
  • Up to 2,500 contacts, unlimited emails/month – $15/month
  • Up to 5,000 contacts, unlimited emails/month – $30/month
  • Up to 10,500 contacts, unlimited emails/month – $50/month

 

 

Support

  • All paid plans have access to a knowledge base, video tutorials as well as 24/7 email and live chat support.

 

 

Sendinblue

 

Sendinblue is a broader marketing platform with email at its core, offering well-designed, engaging campaigns to build relationships with your customers. They offer various models enabling your business to grow with them rather than swapping solutions and have a simple, easy-to-use editor.

 

 

Price

  • Free (unlimited contacts, 300 emails/day) – $0
  • Lite (10,000+ emails) – from $25/month
  • Premium (20,000 + emails) – from $65/month
  • Enterprise – Custom pricing

 

 

Support

  • Lite – email support
  • Premium – Email and telephone support
  • Enterprise – priority email and telephone support

 

 

Personal Favorites

When setting out to find the best small business software, it pays to start with the few that you really need and work your way up from there. As such, here are three personal favorites from the selection above to get any SMB started:

  1. The Best Small Business Software: Spike

    We may be biased, but Spike offers a whole host of tools in a single, easy-to-use, and affordable package. As far as getting team, project, and communication management set up in one hit, Spike can’t be beat.

  2. Web Hosting for Growth: Siteground

    While it may have a slightly steeper learning curve, the benefits of having a well-hosted WordPress site are numerous. What’s more, with the number of free plugins available (including for eCommerce), it will quickly become more economical than many site-builder options.

  3. Email Marketing: mailerlite

    Mailerlite gives you powerful tools with no upfront cost, letting any small business get to grips with the basics of email marketing. Additionally, it has a super user-friendly interface and clean designs that really get your message across.

 

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.

 

Updated 6/04/21 

FAQs 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:

  • Exclusively and regularly as a principal place of business
  • Exclusively and regularly as a place where patients, clients or customers meet in the normal business
  • A separate structure that’s not attached to a home that is used exclusively and regularly for your business
  • Storage of inventory or samples used in a trade or business of selling products at retail or wholesale
  • For rental use
  • 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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Spike Team The Spike team posts about productivity, time management, and the future of email, messaging and collaboration.

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