15 Small Business App You Need to Use Now

By Joshua Botello

View the original article and video here.

Starting a business is difficult for owners who need to get all the tools together to run their business smoothly. Small business owners who are just starting may not even know these tools that exist that make their lives much easier and more productive. In this video, is a list of 15 small business apps small businesses need to be using right now. Many of these apps are ones we use here on a daily basis for our own office. Many are free apps with optional upgrades so you can try without any limitations on what you can do if you don’t need a lot of bells and whistles. Most of these apps can be run on mobile phones for ultimate remote connectivity. So let’s get into the list.

Office Programs - Google Docs & Gmail (Free with an upgrade to Google Workspace Starting at $6/mo)

When you are just starting your business you want to make sure you have the basics down and office software is first on the list. A program like Microsoft 365 is expensive and open office is pretty bland. Google has their free Google Docs that give you access to a word processor, spreadsheets, and presentation slides that most business owners will need. You also get a free Gmail address and some cloud storage that can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection. You can upgrade to Google Workspace to get a custom email and more storage and apps for your business. 

Editor - Grammarly (Free with upgrades starting at $12/mo)

Once you get your google docs up and running, you want to make sure your customers aren’t put off by bad spelling and worse grammar. Grammarly is a program that fixes spelling and grammar far better than the one built into your word processor. Grammarly can also analyze your writing for tone and give you suggestions to make your letter easier to understand. Grammarly is free for mac and windows but is also available as an extension with chrome and safari for writing using cloud-based apps.   

Business Phone - Google Voice (Free)

Not every business owner wants to use their personal phone for business especially if they want to have days off. Google comes to the rescue again with google voice. Google voice allows you to register a free phone number for your area and forward your calls to your desktop or mobile phone via the app. It supports texting, voicemail, and a call log to keep track of all those important business calls. Google voice can also be upgraded through Google Workspace as your own cloud-based VoIP telephone system. 

Website - Wix (Free to build. Business sites starting at $18/mo)

Now it’s time to legitimize your business online and the best way to do that is a business website. There are many website builders to choose from but I recommend Wix. Wix is a simple drag and drop type of website builder that can make beautiful websites without the need to learn HTML. Wix comes with a bunch of templates and an ADI (artificial design intelligence) to help you create the pages you need. You can also build a full-fledged e-commerce site to launch an online business with payment integration, inventory management, and sales tax support. 

Appointment Scheduler - Acuity (Plans starting at $14/mo)

Let’s get to upgrading your productivity. If you are a consultant or professional, then you want to maintain a healthy calendar and there are a few scheduling apps to choose from. Acuity is our scheduler of choice for a few reasons. Acuity allows you to set up working hours when your business will be open and then set up your schedule within that time frame based on your meeting durations. You can set up a scheduling link for different services and at different locations. Acuity also allows for many different integrations for meetings, payments, inventory, and email with other apps that are on this list. 

Video Conference - Zoom (Free with upgrades starting at $15/mo)

Many consultants and professionals that do free consultations or strategy meetings can save on travel and time with a video conferencing app. We prefer zoom because it offers integration with many different apps we already have, it is very reliable and the quality is pretty good. You can check out our review of zoom here. Zoom also offers webinar support with break-out rooms and streaming to many major platforms with upgraded plans. You can get Zoom for free to conduct meetings but if you want more features, plans start at $15/mo. 

Project Management - Trello (Free, upgrades starting at $6/mo)

Once you start signing up clients and start scheduling appointments, you will want to keep track of those projects to make sure clients are happy. We like Trello in our office because it’s simple for what it is and it’s free. Many project tools use the card, list, and board system but Trello seems to be the easiest to use. Trello does offer upgrades to more boards and integrations with many of the apps on this list to make project management a lot easier for clients, content creation, and video projects. 

Team Collaboration - Slack (Free, upgrades starting at $6.67/mo)

If you start projects and are working with multiple team members you want to make sure you are all updated without having to set aside time for zoom meetings. Enter Slack. Slack is an online collaboration tool where team members can comment on specific projects, questions and send files for review. Slack has many integrations and upgrades with google drive to share files, call straight from the app, set up video meetings, and share video files. 

Payment Processor - Square (Free to start, Pricing per transaction, upgrades start at $60/mo)

Let’s transition to something every business deals with money. Our first tool is a payment processor to take money from customers. For that, we like to recommend Square. Square is a payment processor made famous for the first payment system you were able to use from mobile phones. Square has a bunch of integrations with Wix, Acuity, Quickbooks, and many others. Square is not only a payment processor but can also serve as a point of sale system for your retail or restaurant business. Pricing for Square is free but they do charge per transaction at 2.6% + 10¢ (in-person) and 2.9% + 30¢ (online). Square also has upgrades available to manage inventory, cost of goods sold, and returns or exchanges starting at $60 per month. 

FulFillment - ShipStation (Plans start at $9/month)

If you have your e-commerce site set up but are not using Wix, that's ok. You probably will need help keeping track of inventory and fulfillment for your orders. We have you covered with our choice: ShipStation. ShipStation is a web-based fulfillment platform where a business owner can load and track inventory, support for 20 different carriers all over the world, label printing support, and shipping updates to the customers. The plans are priced and based on how many orders you ship per month starting at 50/month to 10,000+ /mo to support any size business. 

Accounting - Quickbooks Online (Plan start at $12.50/mo)

As you operate your business, you need to keep track of your financial information. The best tool for this is QuickBooks Online. Quickbooks is an online bookkeeping tool for small businesses to track revenue, expenses, inventory, and cash flow. Quickbooks makes our software of choice because it is fairly easy to get started, you can invoice and get paid through the app, get money deposited directly to your bank account and track your bank account if it's connected to Quickbooks. Quickbooks also allows you to track all of this financial information for your business anywhere by simply logging into your account online or through a mobile app. 

Email Autoresponder - Mailer Lite (Free, upgrades start at $10/mo)

It’s time to grow your business with marketing and the first tool to start with is an email autoresponder. While many people may prefer Mailchimp, the better choice might be Mailer Lite. Let me explain. Mailer lite allows you to create a list of 1,000 subscribers and up to 12,000 total emails per month. Mailer lite’s biggest selling point is automated sequences to make funnels for free while Mailchimp requires a subscription. A Mailer Lite subscription allows you A/B testing, more landing pages, and the ability to create custom templates.

Graphics- Canva (Free with upgrades starting at $120/yr)

As you’re creating your email or marketing materials the best tool to use is Canva. Canva is a template-based graphic design tool for the artistic disinclined. We use this every week to create great content, snippets, and event flyers. Canva’s free version has 250k templates for more than 100 different types of marketing pieces. While Canva is free and can work well for your business, a $120/year subscription gives you access to more than 100 million graphics, scheduling for many major social media channels, a brand kit, and the ability to resize for all channels you manage. 

Free Stock Photos- Pexels/Unsplash

If you need more access to photos that you may not be able to find with the free version of Canva, there are a few free stock photo sites to use. Pexels is one free site that you can use with a large library and even free stock videos. The other site you can use is Unsplash that uses more artistic photos that we use in conjunction with Pexels based on whatever project that is needed. 

CRM - Hubspot (Free with upgrades starting at $45/mo)

You have an email program to market your business and a graphic program to make it appealing but how can you keep track of your customer pipeline? Hubspot is one of the most popular Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software providers. Hubspot tracks your sales pipeline or the customers who enter into the sales process before they actually become paying customers. Hubspot can store customer contact information; track the touchpoints (points of contact) like emails or phone calls, and analyze the journey to increase your conversion from prospects to buyers. While Hubspot is free to get started, you are also able to upgrade your account for more analytics, handle more contacts and more personalized automation with your prospect starting at $45/mo. 
 
So what do you think of our list? Are you currently using these apps for your business? Tell us what you like or don’t like about the apps you use. Let us know in the comments below.
 
Funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

La Verne Chamber of Commerce

2332 D Street, Unit E

La Verne, CA 91750

(909) 593-5265

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