The best small business software empowers you to run your business smoothly and efficiently. It takes the headache out of everything from organizing your projects and meetings to time management, so you never fall behind.
When you stay on top of
your operations in this way, you’re free to survive and thrive in the business
world, continually earning more revenue as you go, which is the dream of every
small business owner.
This article features the most useful, best small business software tools that are integral to your success and easy to learn and install. We provide a curated selection of the best online small business software, from accounting, to project and email management, document storage, security software and more. This way you can get your small business running smoothly.
Best Small Business Accounting Software
Small business accounting software takes the hassle out of keeping track of what your clients owe you, which of your clients has yet to pay, and the number of invoices you’ve sent out.
Your real-life accountant will thank you for the streamlining of all of this data in one, handy place, and you'll be thankful when you can find all of your invoices easily come tax time.
On this list of the best small business software, perhaps none puts a premium on saving time as much as QuickBooks.
Its task automation lets you concentrate on important areas of your business while its extensive customer support means you’ll never be left hanging when an issue pops up.
Because this software is so widely used, chances are your accountant will be happy you chose QuickBooks for easier integration.
If you’re a small business owner who is on the road a lot, then FreshBooks’ amazing mobile apps for both iOS and Android are the solution to seamless invoicing and client-tracking while in transit.
This online accounting software has features that help small business owners save important time and keep your records tracked reliably. They include on-the-go invoicing, PayPal and credit-card processing of invoices, and expense logging.
Here’s a tutorial for diving right into Freshbooks:
3. Zoho Books
Zoho is ideal for very small business owners and entrepreneurs like freelancers, who mainly rely on themselves. The beauty of this software is its ease of use, free from the often added complexity of accounting software for bigger companies.
Use Zoho to efficiently create invoices, track your expenses, and even create financial reports. Its easily navigable dashboard is one of the main reasons for its great usability.
Discover more ideas to help you find the right accounting software for your small business:
Small Business Project Management Software
There’s nothing like having to handle several projects at the same time to test your organizational skills as a small business owner. While challenges are always good, your managing many tasks at once will only leave you drained and feeling swamped. Instead, rely on the following project management tools to ensure you can keep your project on target, and please your clients at the same time.
This project management tool combines usability with reliable and far-reaching mobile access to give small businesses the reassurance they need when moving through a project from beginning to end.
With Basecamp, your entire team can be spread out all over the world and coordinate remotely. Basecamp’s ability to be accessed from most any smartphone or tablet makes this a cinch.
Check out our Basecamp tutorial for simple project management:
Trello's card-based design allows small business owners to effectively manage their teams with this easy to use tool that combines project and task management in one, simple interface.
This app is excellent for those folks who enjoy doing things visually, as each project is condensed down to a task, which is represented by various cards that you move through different stages of completion. We use Trello to simplify our editorial process here at Envato Tuts+.
Extremely popular and well-known, Asana is adaptable to businesses of all sizes. This scalability is a great help when planning projects of varying sizes.
Asana excels at letting small business owners track every aspect of a project, from the smallest details of the day-to-day process to the continuous tracking of information and workflows that epitomize bigger projects.
Learn about how to starting working with Asana in our comprehensive beginner guide:
Discover more great online project management software options:
Best Small Business Productivity Apps
Productivity is a rare property and skill that should never be underestimated. Often, it’s the secret ingredient that can take a small business from doing just okay to exceeding all expectations. When you know how to get things done successfully in a shorter period of time—you simply achieve more. These productivity apps are integral to small business success.
Todoist is productivity’s answer to small businesses that want to accomplish more each day—but have no idea how. With its easy-to-learn interface, tagging system, and filters for prioritization, Todoist is a powerful productivity tool that awesomely doesn’t require a steep learning curve at all.
Get more done with routine and complex tasks at your small business, thanks in large part to features like project areas of responsibility, time- and location-based reminders, and multi-platform synchronicity.
The tagline “Remember Everything” sums up Evernote’s power succinctly. This productivity app belongs on this monster list of the best software for small business because it’s an endless filing cabinet that lives in the cloud and syncs across all of your devices.
Information you put in their can be easily retrieved by a basic keyword or tag search. It’s the perfect place for small business documents, receipts, PDFs, plans, graphics, images and virtually everything else.
Read this article on killer tips and tricks to get the most out of Evernote:
Don’t miss our guide to more great productivity apps:
Small Business Collaboration and Document Software
These days, filing cabinets are out of the question, and hoarding information on bits of paper is the fastest way to run a disorganized business…straight into the ground. Thankfully, there’s a slew of collaboration and documents apps that empowers any small business owner to find the information they need at the drop of a hat, right out of the cloud, and available on all their devices.
An initially free cloud storage service that allows you to pay for extra space, Google Drive/Docs is the epitome of organization. It empowers small businesses to get instant access across all of their devices to their documents, files, images, videos and so much more. It can even be used as a backup system.
It currently boasts more than 200 million users although it was only launched four years ago. Familiarize yourself with Google Drive/Docs by reading:
Dropbox is another great cloud storage service with millions and millions of users. It enables small business owners to get their files, documents, pictures and videos instantly and from any device they have. Not only is this content safe, but collaboration, sharing and creating is simplified and more accessible.
Founded in 2007, it was one of the first cloud storage services that helped to popularize the use of the cloud for collaboration and storage. Read our article on how to use Dropbox across your team:
The new kid on the block, Slack is a cloud based tool as well, but it’s more of a collaboration enabler for teams all over the globe. This makes it the perfect choice for small businesses whose teams are scattered across various time zones.
This service allows for real-time chatting, searching and archiving all on the same server, so your communication is on-point all the time. Here’s more about using Slack to communicate with your teams:
Email Online Software for Small Business
Ah, email! Even in 2016, email is still dominant and widely used by more people than ever. In spite of the advent of new tools like social media, cloud based software and real-time messaging apps, email is here to stay because of its extreme usefulness. Here are our picks for the best email services as small business tools.
Featuring integration with Google’s host of other highly usable online software products and services, Gmail is the choice of many small businesses when it comes to email.
Its interface, which is always being redesigned to ensure a better user experience, is intuitive, with labels providing a smart way of quick and easy in-app organization. Interestingly, 92% of small companies and startups host their email with Gmail.
Learn how to use Gmail in our ultimate beginner guide or get started with these tutorials:
- GmailHow to Create a New Gmail Account (Quick Start Guide)Laura Spencer
- GmailHow to Search Your Emails in Gmail Like a ProLaura Spencer
One of Gmail’s biggest direct competitors, Microsoft’s Outlook is actually a bit more than just email. Technically, it’s an entire personal information manager with a calendar, contact manager, task manager, journal, and note and web-browsing capabilities.
Still, most people use it mainly for the email app. As with Gmail, it’s available on both iOS and Android for email processing on the go.
14. Zoho Mail
Zoho Mail is an ad-free webmail that features a minimalist user interface for added simplicity and an easy learning curve. It's specifically geared for business and professional use, Zoho Mail is initially free and then has different pricing tiers for a maximum of 25 GB of mail capacity.
A point of interest here is the integration with Zoho Docs. Zoho Docs is Zoho’s answer to Google’s Docs, where you and your team can collaborate, create and edit text and files.
Best Small Business Email Marketing Tools
Email marketing is still a force to be reckoned with, even though it was one of the first forms of digital marketing to take off. In an age of social media, blogging and text messaging, email marketing is going strong because of the powerful results and conversion rates it gets for businesses of all types. Two email marketing services in particular are helpful to small businesses:
Virtually everyone’s heard of MailChimp, and with good reason. It’s totally free for up to 500 subscribers and includes basic marketing features.
Most every marketing integration you can think of automatically comes with a basic MailChimp subscription. This means integration with Twitter and Facebook, ecommerce biggies like Shopify, and signup/popup form apps like OptinMonster.
Check out our authoritative guide to everything MailChimp as well as great email newsletter template resources:
- The Tuts+ Guide to MailChimpAndy Betts
- MailChimpBest MailChimp Templates to Level Up Your Business Email NewsletterBrad Smith
16. Campaign Monitor
The other big email marketing service, Campaign Monitor provides small businesses from all industries pro-grade and automated email marketing features with powerful results. Whether it’s personalized campaigns or delighting customers, Campaign Monitor has you covered.
Of course, sending out email marketing campaigns means nothing without a demonstrable return on investment. That’s why Campaign Monitor features tools to track your email campaigns’ performances.
For an analysis of which outperforms the other, this article gives a quick comparison between the two:
- Email NewslettersMailChimp vs. Campaign Monitor: Which is the Best Email Newsletter Software?Brenda Barron
If you’re feeling inspired, head on over to our GraphicRiver marketplace, where you'll find a a host of professional email templates designed for various types of business newsletters.
Backup and Recovery Software for Small Business
It’s never a smart idea to simply keep all of your most personal and prized files unprotected and unguarded, yet so many small business owners do exactly that.
Every small business needs to back up its business and financial records because all of your sensitive information that resides there. Don’t leave things to chance. Here are the best backup and recovery services to make use of.
This backup recovery service lets you save and back up anything from your small business into the cloud, where it’s sure to be safe and protected. With Crashplan, small business owners get peace of mind that their trade secrets and proprietary information won’t ever get lost or fall into the wrong hands.
It doesn’t matter what size of business you have. Small and large companies alike can benefit when their respective data is being protected the way it should be.
With IDrive, you’re able to do an online backup for all of your devices on PC and Mac, as well as on Android, iOS and other mobile devices. IDrive won’t cost you an arm and a leg; in fact, a basic 5 GB of backup space is totally free.
IDrive also features a small business plan where you’re able to keep data safe on all of your business servers, computers, NAS, SQL and Exchange.
Top Small Business Security and Virus Protection
The Internet can be a big, bad, scary place because of all the viruses and malware that are out there. The last thing any small business owner wants is for their work computer, tablet and/or smartphone to be infected by a malicious program that’ll set back the smooth running of their operations. These security and anti-virus apps give small businesses protection and peace of mind.
One of the oldest and best-known security and virus tools available, McAfee is available for your computers, tablets and smartphones, providing protection to small business owners no matter where they are.
Notable also is this app’s Virus Protection Pledge, which states that you get a full refund should one of its supported devices get a virus, if McAfee still fails to remove said virus from your system.
Another big name in the security and protection industry, Norton also offers widespread protection across PC, Mac and mobile devices. Depending on the plan you choose, you can obtain protection for as many as 10 computers and devices, all on just one subscription.
Norton has a similar pledge to McAfee’s, which is that this app will keep your devices virus-free, or else you’re entitled to a refund.
Kaspersky makes a range of security and protection products, ranging from anti-spyware and anti-virus to anti-spam and firewall products. Many of its products have won awards for effectiveness.
Free trials are included, so that small business owners can see if a certain Kaspersky product is right for their business or not.
See our guide to malware for more information on online security threats:
Small Business Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is essential to small business success. Social media enables you to reach your leads and customers for a fraction of the price of a traditional ad campaign, making it extremely effective. When you consider that so many people use social media, it is also where your customers are—and that means your brand should be there, too. Here are the best marketing tools for social media.
Hootsuite is an extremely popular social media tool that offers powerful social media control from one, awesome interface. Hootsuite allows you to do a bit more, like social listening, where you’re able to monitor what people are saying about your small business on the web.
Plus, Hootsuite works with approximately 35 different social networks, making it very expansive. Learn how to get started working with Hootsuite:
Among online business apps, Buffer is a very popular social media tool that offers free and premium plans. This tool allows small business owners to schedule, publish and then analyze all of their social activity from one dashboard.
You don’t need to individually sign into Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn because Buffer lets you control all your social media accounts from one place. It's simple and quick to work with.
24. Sprout Social
Sprout social is robust social media management software that lets small business owners source potential leads, analyze their return on investment, and publish and schedule your social media content across various platforms.
All of this also translates into better customer services, as business owners are able to quickly respond to customer complaints and solve problems across networks.
For more on social media marketing, from our multipart beginning's guide to social media for small business, see these helpful articles:
- Social MediaHootsuite vs Buffer vs Sprout Social: What is the Best Social Media Management Tool?Brenda Barron
- Social Media14 Helpful Social Media Management Tools for a Better WorkflowBrenda Barron
Online VPN Software for Small Business
VPN stands for virtual private network, which is a server and connecting network that’s really a gateway between your computer and the web. Instead of your computer connecting straightaway to a website, it first goes through another computer than only then connects to the site. This makes for a safer and more private Internet connection for added security.
This is one of the best small business VPN software solutions. It allows for online privacy as well as access to media content without any regional limitations. It features strong encryption for security with more than 700 servers in more than 50 countries around the world.
This VPN app offers complete security no matter what WiFi network you’re on or what kind of data you end up sharing online. It encrypts all of your web traffic as well as sensitive information, shielding it from both hackers and prying third parties.
It also offers very fast Internet speeds, which is important because VPN servers can in some cases contribute to a slower, overall Internet connection in exchange for added security.
27. HotSpot Shield
HotSpot Shield is available for Mac, PC, iOS and Android, which makes it a source of encryption and protection across all devices for complete security. There’s a free version and an Elite version that’s available in various pricing tiers. This VPN app is currently being used by more than 400 million people in 200 countries, which speaks to its credibility.
For more info on the best VPN software, read our comprehensive guide:
Be More Successful at Your Small Business With These Apps
Running a small business is hard and challenging. Many don’t survive past the first, few years. Using the right apps can make a big difference in helping you overcome the basic issues that every small business owners runs into when they have their own operation. They help you get organized, streamline your workflows, and get more done with greater efficiency and reliability.
Take the time to research and learn more about the online business software you're considering using. Discover how useful these apps are and which one can help your business the most. Review a small selection that have the features you need at the right price point. Test them out with a trial run before investing. Find just the one that fits your business best and gives you a great ROI in its specific area.
What is the best small business software in your opinion? What business software tools and online apps can't you live without in your small business?