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TOOLS & APPS

What are the Best Small Business Apps? (2021 Edition)

15-minute read

Check out our recommendations for best small business apps, like this entrepreneur!
Simply Business

Simply Business

7 July 2021

The most difficult job is that of a small business owner, probably because small business owners have to wear so many hats.

You’re not only a boss, you’re a secretary, an accountant, a marketer, and you represent the entire HR department. That’s a lot of hats to wear — for anyone.

Fortunately for you, technology is available to lend a helping hand. In the past, you would have had a pile of to-do’s on your desk, but these days, you can rely on thousands of apps to help you do practically anything for your business.

Keep reading to find some great apps for your business to simplify your job. In this article, we'll review tools that can help you increase your productivity, track your time, improve your customer engagement, manage customer communities, and more.

Best Small Business Apps for Productivity

The expression "time is money" is nothing new to business owners. It's helpful to be able to maximize your time where you can, especially when you have to do everything yourself.

Fortunately, these apps can help keep you organized during even the busiest work day!

RescueTime

If you’re worried that you or your employees are wasting time on YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram, you may want to think about getting RescueTime. RescueTime allows you to see where you are spending your time, either online or offline. It's compatible with both Mac and PC computers.

It can even show you which websites you are spending time on. RescueTime can set goals for your productivity, and can alert you when you have spent too much time on a particular activity. If you’re an Android user, RescueTime also has an app for your phone as well. There is a free version, as well as a premium version, which is $9 per month.

Toggl

Toggl is one of the best apps on the market if you want to track your time for contract purposes or for billable hours. It allows you to track specific projects or your business clients. With Toggl, you also can sync your timesheets and hours to other applications, such as project management software. Toggl can be used by employees as well, and you can divide them into individuals or groups

Toggl has a few different products. Toggl Plan and Toggl Track are tools that help you manage your projects and track your time. Toggl Plan helps you to manage the projects you're working on and includes great visuals to help you see which tasks you need to finish and by when.

Toggle Track helps you to track your time and get a helpful overview in reports that tell you how your time is being spent. That can come in handy — it can be easy to lose track of where the time goes!

There are different prices based on whether you choose to pay monthly or annually; the plans range from $9 to $15.

If you're not sure which plan works for you, you can start out using Toggl’s free version, and then upgrade to a paid plan as your business grows.

Best Apps to Protect Your Business

You put a lot of time (and likely money) into building your business, so finding ways to protect your business's activities and information is important. Below are a few small business apps that can help keep your business safe from risks.

KoolSpan TrustCall

If your business handles sensitive information, like protected personal information (PPI), then you may want to consider looking into using KoolSpan. KoolSpan's TrustCall tool allows you to call and text your vendors and customers using encrypted messaging, meaning that what you discuss will remain confidential and private.

You can contact KoolSpan to get a TrustCall demo; prices may vary, depending on what your business needs.

1Password

Sure, many applications allow you to save your passwords, but each password is typically saved in each separate application. Having a password organizer is a good way to protect your business's sensitive information from hackers, because all of your passwords are kept in one safe location.

The pricing starts at $7.95/month per user for business accounts. A great feature of 1Password is that you can easily invite your employees to use it, too, so everyone practices the same safety measures.

Business Insurance

Beyond using small business apps, having business insurance can be one of the best ways to protect your business. You may not consider it, but your business faces risks every day, even if you're doing all you can to prevent anything from going wrong.

In the event of an accident or a mistake, a customer could choose to sue your business, taking valuable time and money away from you. That's why it's important to consider business insurance coverage. Having a policy can help protect your assets and business's future.

There are a couple different types of insurance you can consider: general liability insurance and professional liability insurance.

General liability insurance, also known as commercial liability insurance, can help protect your business from events like:

  • Third-party accidents
  • Bodily injury
  • Property damage
  • And more

Imagine you own a landscaping business. While on site at a customer's home working on a project, you accidentally scratch their car while carrying tools back to your truck.

The customer sues you for the damage repair costs. You hire a lawyer to help represent your business in the lawsuit. The cost of the fees requested in the claim and for your lawyer could have to come out-of-pocket, putting your business in debt. You could even face losing your house or car if you don't have the money available.

With a general liability insurance policy, your coverage could help protect you from paying the cost of the damage repairs and lawyer fees.

Professional liability insurance can help protect your business from:

  • Negligence or alleged negligence
  • Alleged stolen ideas
  • And more

Imagine you're a marketing consultant and help a client with their marketing strategy for the year, based on their desired goals. The following year, they sue you, claiming that with your guidance and advice, they should've made more money. They claim your negligence is the reason they didn't make as much money as they projected.

You just started your business recently and don't have much savings put aside, but you'd likely have to pay out-of-pocket for these requested fees. In some cases, you may risk losing your car, house, or other valuable assets.

If you had the protection of a professional liability insurance policy, it could help to cover those fees, as well as legal fees you may have.

Without business insurance coverage, when events like the above happen, you risk owing your customers hundreds, if not thousands (or more!) of dollars. Say a customer trips and falls when they're in your store, or maybe you accidentally damage a piece of their property while working on a project.

Accidents like these can add up. Did you know the average customer slip and fall claim is $30,000? Many small businesses don't have that kind of cash in their savings accounts.

Especially when you're starting out with your business, owing money on damages or claims from those accidents can put you into unexpected debt. And remember, the process of going through a lawsuit can add stress to your already busy schedule as a business owner.

With a business insurance policy, though, you can be covered for the cost of claims, as well as related legal fees.

Finding the right policy for you is a lot like finding the right apps for your business — it takes some time and research! Luckily, you can use Simply Business's free quote comparison tool here, to compare options in under 10 minutes. And the options you see are affordable too, with general liability policies starting at just $25.95/month *.

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Best Small Business Apps for Project Management

Running your business means juggling a lot of moving parts, so organization is key. Below are apps you can use to organize documents, keep yourself on schedule, track all of your different meetings and customer needs, and more.

Basecamp

Basecamp is a well-known project management app, and many business owners have found its ease of use to be one of its best features. With Basecamp, you can:

  • Collaborate on the same project
  • Attach files for people to work on
  • Create checklists for work progress
  • Track each person’s progress through the app
  • And more

Although Basecamp is easy to use, it’s not for everyone. Some businesses with long-running or complicated projects may find Basecamp to not be a good fit. In that case, they may want to try a different app, but Basecamp can be great for small businesses with short-term projects.

Currently, Basecamp's plans start at $99/month, but the company also offers discounts for students, teachers, and nonprofit organizations.

Trello

Another popular application for project management is Trello. One reason businesses like Trello is that it is oriented for visual people. Workspaces have cards on Trello that can be moved around, depending on the project’s timeline. Members can be assigned to each card, and the cards also have a chat function.

The cards are constantly updated as members work on projects. Trello is free for a solo user, but it costs $12.50 a month per user if you want to sign up employees. You can see pricing options here.

Asana

Asana is a tool that can help you and your team stay on top of projects. It has features that help you track progress and stay on top of your project from beginning to end.

Depending on your small business's needs, you have different pricing options to choose from. There are three main plans: the Basic (free), the Premium ($13.49/month), and the Business ($34.99/month).

Because Asana has a free version, you can try it to see how it works before committing to a paid plan. Asana offers courses and webinars to help its users get the most from its platform. If you're looking for a tool that comes with a lot of user resources, this is a good option.

Notion

Notion is a software that can track your design progress, store marketing materials, organize notes, and more.

If you think that you'll be doing a lot of documentation for your business, then Notion may be a good choice for you to consider. There are different pricing options, and you can choose to start on the free plan. If you decide you want a plan with different features, you can trial those plans before paying per member; prices range from $4-$8/month for each person using Notion.

Evernote

With Evernote, you can take notes on just about anything you want. You can take notes at meetings, you can journal, you can create lists, keep track of contacts, embed pictures, audio or video, and save tweets or emails for retrieval later. You can store the information as you want and tag the information so you can find it later, using your own wording.

Evernote also allows you to create “notebooks” full of information and share it with your employees. Evernote has three plans to choose from: the Basic version, which is free; the Premium version at $7.99 a month, and the Business version, which is $14.99 a month. If you choose the Business version, you get administrator-controlled access and unlimited upload space.

##Customer Relationship Management Apps

Building relationships with customers is typically a challenge for business owners, but it can be especially difficult if you don't have a good way to track your customers' actions and engagements.

The small business apps below are customer relationship management softwares (commonly referred to as CRMs) and can help you track all of your important customer information.

Streak

Customer relationship management (CRM) software represents the future for any business, as it allows small businesses to keep track of customer contact information, purchase history, preferences, and trends in purchasing from year to year.

Additionally, CRM tools allow you to keep in touch with your best customers, offer them freebies and special sales and discounts, because these days, customers are looking for personal touches and businesses that recognize the importance of customer relationships. Several applications are available to help you manage customer relationships.

Streak arranges your customer lists based on where you are in the customer-business relationship, and works well with either Gmail or Google applications. Streak begins to track a client from first contact then moves them forward as you progress in your relationship. All of your employees can be advised of the customer relationship process through a feed, and all customer emails are organized by customer, so that your employees can interact with customers with all of the knowledge from previous customer interactions.

While the basic Streak service is free, once you hit a certain number of customers, you'll have to upgrade plans. Beyond the free version are the solo, pro, and enterprise plans, ranging from $15/month per user, $49/month per user, and $129/month per user. The pro plan is the most popular with businesses, but you can see all plans and their details here.

Insightly

Another app that many businesses like for CRM is Insightly, which allows businesses to organize their contacts with tags, keep up with clients' social media profiles, and prioritize leads.

In addition, Insightly allows you to create client management tasks for your employees, track the status of those tasks and email them to make sure that tasks regarding clients are completed on time. Its tools help you to better understand your client and how they interact with your business.

Plans are priced based on a per-user-a-month price. The Plus plan is $29/user/month, the Professional plan is $49/user/month, and the Enterprise plan begins at $99/user/month.

Payment Apps

Being paid is how we stay in business, and thankfully, there are softwares and technologies that make that process easier for us. The apps below help make it easier for customers to pay for products or services. They also allow for money transfer, meaning that if you need to keep your business's funds in different accounts, these apps can help make that possible.

Square

For point-of-sale purchases, you can try Square. Square operates by using a card reader that can attach to a smartphone or tablet, and it allows you to swipe credit cards for payment processing.

The system does not have to be connected all day to the internet; receipts can be emailed or texted to the client, and there is a tip option, which can be vital for service-oriented businesses such as a beauty salon. Square takes a portion of the transaction fee, starting at 2.5%, and prices change when you open multiple retail associations.

Dwolla

Dwolla is a bit more complicated than Square, as it doesn’t do point-of-sale purchases, but if you want to request money en masse, you may want to try Dwolla, as it’s free for the basic features.

Payments can be accepted via bank transfer. You can request those mass payments from clients, or set up a recurring monthly payment, if you are a service-oriented business. Pricing options begin at a pay-as-you-go rate of 0.5% and then increase to $250/month with the option of a month-to-month plan.

Wave

Wave is a different type of application that works as a way to track the income coming into the company, as well as your expenses. The app also allows you to import information from your bank, customize your accounts, and keep track of all of your transactions. Wave also has a payroll feature, which allows you to pay all of your employees via direct deposit, and keeps track of your taxes.

Wave allows you to invoice your clients and receive payments online. There is a receipt-scanning tool to help you keep track of expenses, as well as mobile apps that allow you to create invoices, payments, receipts, and payroll on your mobile phone, which is amazing if you’re always on the go.

One great function of Wave is that it helps you remind your customers if they're late on payments. A helpful feature of Wave is that the company offers advisors to help coach you on payroll, bookkeeping, and accounting. As with some of the other apps, Wave charges a percentage (2.9%) plus 30 cents in fees per transaction. Prices for the software differ, depending on the plan you choose and whether you use the app for payroll.

Best Accounting Software Apps for Small Businesses

If you dread balancing your books or want to tackle tax season with more confidence, then it's a good idea to invest in an accounting software. The below apps can help you to keep your business's finances in check.

From helping you with invoicing to creating and sticking with a budget for long-term goals, these can help you manage your money in a smart way.

QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online is one of the most popular accounting applications for small businesses. The dashboard is easy to get around and allows you to invoice, print checks, connect with your bank, approve estimates for services, and keep track of all of your income, taxes, and expenses.

QuickBooks can link up with PayPal, so you can invoice customers and receive payments. It also gives you the option of adding payroll, so if your business grows and you want to bring on employees, then you can use QuickBooks online to organize how they're paid.

QuickBooks prices start at $12.99 for the Simple Start plan. More expensive versions of QuickBooks run anywhere from $20-$75 a month — and those also allow you to schedule payments, manage protestors, and track time and inventory.

FreshBooks

Another great application for accounting is FreshBooks. One of the best reasons to have the FreshBooks apps is that the mobile version is very easy to use. You can track hours that you or your employees are on the clock, log in receipts, and send invoices from your tablet or even from your cellphone. FreshBooks also integrates well with other work-related applications including Basecamp, Google and Google Workspace, and ZenPayroll.

However, you should be aware that double-entry bookkeeping features are not available on FreshBooks, but some small businesses don’t need them to do their accounting. You can start a free trial of the product without using a credit card. While you're getting started, if you have any questions about how to get the most out of FreshBooks, there's a customer service team ready to help you.

Base plans for FreshBooks starts at $7.50 per month for the Basic version, $12.50 per month for the Plus plan, and $25.00 per month for the Premium plan.

Dubsado

The Dubsado app helps to clarify your work life by helping build relationships with your customers, schedule appointments and meetings, and keeping your work organized. Dubsado comes with great templates for tools like questionnaires, invoices, and more, which can be really helpful when you're starting or growing your business. The app has reminders and confirmation emails, which help you to set up your workflow so that you stay organized and don't have loose administrative ends.

If you aren't sold on Dubsado by hearing about all its awesome features, then you can trial the software. The pricing varies depending on whether or not you'd like to pay monthly or annually. A monthly plan costs $35/month, and you can save 15% by purchasing an annual plan at $350 for the year.

YNAB

YNAB is a budgeting app; the acronym stands for "Yes, you need a budget." You may be thinking of budgeting as something that you use in your personal life, but it can be just as helpful for you as a business owner.

When you're starting or growing your business, costs can easily add up, whether that means operational costs, tools you need to do your job, or employees you need to pay. Using a tool like YNAB can help you make sure that you're keeping your business on track to be in good financial standing.

YNAB's free trial lasts for 34 days, giving you the chance to see how its features can help you improve your budget over a month. After the trial ends, you can opt to pay $11.99 at a monthly rate or $84 annually.

Community-Building Apps

For some business owners, the relationship with customers goes deeper than the duration of a project or selling of services. For some, managing a community of customers is important to the overall business. These apps can help you manage and engage with your communities.

Circle

Circle is a platform where business owners can host their community audience. For business owners who host courses or coach their customers, Circle can be a great tool. There are three pricing options to choose from: Basic at $39/month, Professional at $79/month, and Enterprise at $199/month.

Mighty Networks

Mighty Networks is a community platform that allows you to manage your community. Using Mighty Networks may come in handy for business owners offering a service or teaching. It can be an alternative to Facebook groups. It has a function that allows you to connect a Stripe account if you have one, in case your community members would like to make a purchase.

There are three different pricing options: the Free plan, the Business Plan at $99/month, and the Community plan at $149/month. You can choose to purchase a Community Design course for $349, but it is an optional add-on to any plan. Both the Business and Community plans offer 14-day trials so you can try out using the network with a small portion of your community before increasing your members.

Patreon

Patreon is a great community platform for creative business owners, as well as local businesses. Patreon is dedicated to helping its business owners find patreons (aka patrons) to support their business and grow their community. They offer a good amount of free resources to help different types of businesses learn how to take advantage of the platform.

Rather than pay a flat fee each month, Patreon's pricing is based on how much income a creator makes a month. The Lite plan is 5% of the monthly income, the Pro is 8%, and the Premium is 12%.

Apps Can Help You Grow Your Business

OK, so you’ve done the hard part. You have successfully started your business, you stayed open despite hardships, and you’ve started hiring employees. You are really beginning to see your business move forward. Great job! You should pat yourself on the back for a job well done, and take a minute to reflect on your success.

With that being said, it's a good idea to find ways to continue to move your business forward. Hopefully, reading this article has helped you learn more about the small business apps available to help you grow your business, stay organized, and keep track of your time. Some of the applications we have talked about here can also help you out and reduce the amount of paperwork landing on your desk on a daily basis.

With the right mix of tools and knowhow, you can continue to move your business forward. If you keep working your business the way you have, you could be reaching your goals in no time. While you're working to meet your goals, consider Simply U, our blog for business owners, a resource for learning more about how to grow and protect your business.

* Monthly payment calculations (i) do not include initial premium down payment and (ii) may vary by state, insurance provider, and nature of your business. Averages based on January-December 2020 data of 10% of our total policies sold.

Simply Business

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Simply Business

This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs. Read our full disclaimer

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