Whether you’ve just started your business or you’ve been operating for a few years, you’re likely always thinking about ways to improve and streamline your day-to-day processes. Luckily, in this digital age, there are more tools than ever to help business owners—including everything from desktop-based accounting software to mobile small business management apps. And while there’s nothing wrong with relying on a desktop computer for your business tools, many entrepreneurs can benefit from more flexible small business apps that allow them to manage tasks on the go, regardless of time or location.
Are you looking to automate some of your core business processes—and save yourself time and money in the process? If so, this guide is here to help.
We’ve compiled a list of the top small business apps and broken them down by category, as you’ll see below. Use this guide to learn more about what these tools can offer and find the best apps for your small business.
Managing your business’s accounting is probably one of the most important—and also most complex—responsibilities associated with running a business. These four small business accounting apps, however, can help you organize and perform your basic bookkeeping tasks, including everything from invoicing, expenses, payroll, and more.
One of the biggest names in the accounting world, QuickBooks Online is simple, powerful, and everywhere. (In fact, many of the apps on this list integrate with the QuickBooks software in some way.) Resources abound on how to get started with it if you’re not familiar.
From tax accounting to payroll, profit analysis, and inventory management, QuickBooks can do it all—depending on which version you’re paying for. Whether you’re a one-person business or a growing startup, QuickBooks Online has a version and a price point that will fit your needs. Plus, with whatever version you choose, you’ll have access to the mobile QuickBooks app, which is one of the top-rated small business apps on the Apple App Store.
With the QuickBooks mobile accounting app, you can create invoices, track miles, manage expenses, and more—and all on the go.
For an accounting application with a focus on invoicing, lower prices, and one of the best mobile accounting apps on the market, you might use FreshBooks. With the FreshBooks online software and mobile app, you can oversee your cash flow, expenses, invoices, and more—plus, receive top-notch customer service with all plans, at no additional cost.
Wave is one of the only truly free accounting software systems—allowing you to use their online-based platform, mobile invoicing app, and mobile receipts app without paying anything for a subscription.
The Wave accounting app is great for small business owners just starting out—and, they offer payments and payroll paid add-ons to give you the opportunity to extend your functionality within a single application.
Although Expensify serves a more specific purpose than any of the other three small business management apps above, it can play a particularly useful role in organizing your finances.
With Expensify, you can scan receipts and process employee expenses easily and on the go, whether you have an iPhone or Android smartphone. Plus, Expensify can integrate with QuickBooks, Xero, and a variety of other small business apps.
If you’re a product-based business, an inventory management app can help you track your stock, make purchase orders, and ensure your sales process runs smoothly from beginning to end. Here are three top options to consider:
SOS Inventory is designed to make inventory tracking, order management, and manufacturing easier. SOS Inventory integrates with both QuickBooks and Shopify and can be used on desktop, tablet, or mobile. With this app, you can manage inventory in more than one business location, track your items according to a number of different attributes (like serial number and cost history), and create tickets and packing slips, among other features.
Although the mobile app is included for free with a software subscription, you will have to pay a monthly fee to access this inventory software. Plans for SOS Inventory start at $39.95 per month.
With Delivrd, you can access an online-based inventory management application for free. Using Delivrd, you can create a product catalog; count, receive, and issue stock; enable stock level alerts; and access your inventory transaction history.
Plus, if you’re looking for additional features, you can choose from either of Delivrd’s paid plans, starting at $49.99 per month per user. It’s important to note, however, that Delivrd is a web-only service and does not offer a separate mobile app.
The Sortly inventory management app gives you the best of both worlds. Sortly can be used through the web platform, as well as using their mobile small business app on your smartphone or tablet.
With Sortly, you can maintain your catalog with custom notes and tags, look up barcodes, and use the built-in scanner—all as part of the free version of the software. For greater capabilities, you can elect to purchase either of Sortly’s paid plans, which start at $39 per month.
Whether you’re a fast-casual restaurant or contracted photographer, a payment app is essential to ensure that you get paid promptly and that your customers can pay you in the way that works best for them. Plus, if you want to manage your payments within the same application as other processes—such as orders, inventory, loyalty programs, and more—a full POS system will allow you to do so. Check out these three flexible payment platforms and what they can offer your business:
You’ve likely heard of Square, as this POS provider largely changed the world of small business apps—and has improved how businesses process credit card transactions.
This being said, whether you need a full POS system or a simple mobile POS and card swiper, Square is going to be one of your top options. Square offers multiple software and hardware solutions—but for the most basic version, you’ll only pay 2.6% + $0.10 for every in-person payment you accept.
Another point of sale business app, PayPal Here can process credit cards, checks, and invoices on your phone. Unlike the Square POS app, which offers more expansive features like inventory and order management, PayPal Here provides the simplest and easiest way to accept payments on your phone—and only charges 2.7% per U.S. card swipe.
An important point to note, however, PayPal Here works through your PayPal account, as opposed to your bank account, so you’ll need to make sure you’re synced up properly to use this payments app.
Intuit’s version of Square and PayPal Here, QuickBooks GoPayment lets you swipe a card, scan it with your phone camera, or key-in details to accept payments from customers. With this app, you can also review your analytics data, monitor your best-selling items, and even connect with your Apple Watch.
QuickBooks GoPayment directly integrates with QuickBooks, TurboTax, or Mint—and you only have to pay for payment processing (2.4% + $0.25 for in-person payments and 3.4% + $0.25 for keyed-in payments).
Managing a team can be difficult when you have multiple employees, different schedules, and other responsibilities on your plate. Therefore, you might benefit from one of these scheduling, HR, or time tracking apps—any of which can help your team run much more smoothly.
For a time tracking app from QuickBooks, you might look into TSheets. TSheets allows you to track time on any device, streamline payroll and invoicing, manage time-off requests, and receive real-time reports.
Plus, TSheets can integrate with other small business apps in addition to QuickBooks—including Sage, Xero, Square, and more. This being said, however, TSheets will require a paid subscription, but plans start at only $20 per month, plus $8 per user per month.
For a more full-service payroll and HR app, you might consider Gusto. Gusto’s platform allows you to manage payroll, benefits, and compliance—plus, you can calculate and file payroll taxes (at state and federal levels), track sick days and vacation time, and more.
Gusto is available via monthly subscription (which includes their free mobile app) and pricing starts at $39 per month, plus $6 per month per person.
This resource management software allows you to check team availability, schedule resources, and track working time and days off within one application. Customizable reports can also be generated within Teamdeck to help you oversee your team’s performance and track the KPIs of your choosing.
With online software and corresponding mobile app, Teamdeck is a pay-per-user platform with pricing as low as $3.99 per team member per month.
For a strictly mobile-based employee scheduling app, you might look into HotSchedules. HotSchedules (now part of Fourth) is available for both Android and iOS devices and can be used to assign and manage employee shifts, time-off requests, and calendars. HotSchedules is particularly useful for restaurants and other food-service businesses.
This scheduling app is one of the top business applications on the Apple App Store and can be downloaded (with a corresponding account) for $2.99.
Whether you need to talk within your team or with clients, one of these communication apps can facilitate that process for your business. Plus, with productivity tools like these, you’ll find added features—like group organization options, video meeting capabilities, and more—that you don’t get from just texting or sending an email.
This productivity app makes instant messaging work-friendly. Instead of holding unnecessary meetings or typing twice as many emails, you can just shoot a message over to one of your employees—and get an answer just as fast—whether you’re using your computer or mobile device.
With a free option and premium versions with additional features, Slack is well worth trying, especially since they claim to increase productivity by 32%.
If you’re managing a remote team or simply use video conferencing frequently, GoToMeeting may just offer the best solution for your needs.
You can host unlimited meetings with HD video, use screen sharing, add a dial-in conference line, integrate with Office 365 or Google Calendar, and more—just with the basic version of GoToMeeting. You can use GoToMeeting on your computer or mobile device and the basic plan costs only $12 per month.
Among video and chatting small business apps, Skype is still one of the most well-known options. With Skype, you can send texts, share files, display your screen to others, include up to 25 other participants, and more.
Plus, Microsoft now offers Microsoft Teams (which replaced Skype for Business), the business-specific version of this app, which allows access to basic features within the free version and greater capabilities with either of the paid plans.
It can be tricky to manage your customer relationships, especially as a smaller business with limited resources and funding. Therefore, if you’re looking to facilitate a loyalty program or maintain customer profiles, one of these small business apps may be able to help.
You can use Belly to create a customized customer loyalty program.
You can design your points program based on what customers prefer, plus gain the added capabilities of email, social media marketing, and analytics software. You can manage your Belly account online or using their mobile app—pricing, however, starts on the expensive side, at $129 per month.
With Spendgo, you can create customer loyalty and marketing programs whether your customers visit your store, shop online, or use their smartphone. Spendgo allows you to develop a points-based rewards program, push promotions, and even reach customers via text or email.
Spendgo can integrate with top POS, ecommerce, and marketing platforms and is available in three different plan levels. You will, however, have to contact Spendgo directly for a pricing quote.
Salesforce is perhaps one of the biggest names in CRM platforms—used by small and big businesses alike, all over the world. The Salesforce platform allows you to track and manage customer profiles across departments, develop personalized marketing plans, respond to customer issues, and more.
You can use Salesforce online and the mobile app with plans for small businesses starting at $25 per user per month.
Similar to Salesforce, Nimble is a CRM software that allows you to manage customer relationships by maintaining contacts, connecting to social media, sending marketing and outreach messages, and more. You can integrate Nimble with G-Suite or Office 365, as well as a number of other popular platforms.
Like Salesforce, Nimble includes online software and mobile app—pricing, however, is more affordable, at only $19 per user per month (billed annually).
Finally, you never want to forget about the basics—staying organized, creating a workflow, crossing tasks off your to-do list, and anything else involved in your basic responsibilities as a business owner. Check out these project management and organizational business apps to streamline your processes and increase your efficiency.
If you’re managing more than a few employees and need to implement larger, more complicated processes, Trello is a good option.
This card-based system lets you easily create, assign, monitor, update, and complete different tasks—it’s a great way to make sure everyone is as productive and efficient as possible. Plus, Trello integrates with other small business apps like Evernote, Slack, and more.
Trello can be used online or on your mobile device and offers an unlimited free version, as well as paid options.
Another workflow management app, Asana takes a slightly different approach. Instead of visual cards, like Trello, Asana uses a highly customizable list format that you can design however you like—but the fundamental idea is the same: Using a specific system to manage your tasks will improve productivity for your entire team.
Like Trello, you can use Asana on both computers and mobile devices, with a Basic free version or with either of their paid plans.
Basecamp organizes your project into six categories, not one to-do list like Trello and Asana. With the Basecamp app, your project or team can access a chatroom, a message board, a documents and images bank, a task list, a calendar, and a recurring check-in system. Although this app operates within a slightly different philosophy of workflow management, it might be right for your team.
Basecamp offers a limited, but free, version of their small business management app, as well as an unlimited Basecamp for Business at a flat rate of $99 per month.
Finally, if you need a simple note-taking application, you’ll want to look into Evernote. If you just want to keep yourself organized, you can use the basic free version of Evernote which allows you to create to-do lists, take notes, and share your notes with others.
On the other hand, if you want to use Evernote to manage projects, workflows, and deadlines across your entire team, you can look into Evernote for Business (which will cost $14.99 per user per month).
At the end of the day, any of the options on our list of the best apps for small business may be useful for optimizing your day-to-day processes. Plus, since most of these apps are free (or at least free with an online software subscription) there’s no harm in downloading them, trying them out, and deciding whether or not they’re right for your business.
This being said, if you’re interested in additional resources outside of the realm of mobile and online-based apps, we’d recommend checking out our guide to the best free tools to help grow your business.
Randa Kriss is a senior staff writer at Fundera.
At Fundera, Randa specializes in reviewing small business products, software, and services. Randa has written hundreds of reviews across a wide swath of business topics including ecommerce, merchant services, accounting, credit cards, bank accounts, loan products, and payroll and human resources solutions.