Let’s talk about small business services. Do you need them?
Hold on—a “business service” is something only those mega-corporations and international chains use, right? No entrepreneur worth their salt, bootstrapping their way to fulfillment and success, would pay other people money for jobs that they could do… Right?
You see, as a small business owner, you have one resource that’s more precious than all the rest combined:
There’s only one of you—but there’s a whole world out there you want to conquer. You’ve got the daily maintenance of your business, the big projects you’re working towards, the moonshots you’re dreaming of, and a million and one other odd jobs besides. But the more you reach for, the sooner you’ll realize that you simply can’t do it all on your own.
Every successful small business owner knows when to cut their losses and focus their time, energy, and attention on what’s actually important. If you’re spending too many hours on doing your own bookkeeping or learning how to code your own blog, then it might be the moment to take a step back and ask…
Is this really the best way I can contribute to my business?
If the answer is no, then paying for one or several small business services to do those jobs for you can go a long way.
Or alternatively, you might want to look at some free small business services that can help you lower costs. You might be surprised by what sorts of marketing initiatives and legal assistance you can get by finding the right services.
Here are the top 32 small business services that all entrepreneurs should consider investing in.
Most small business owners aren’t accountants, but all small business owners need to be aware of their revenues, spending habits, cash flows, and the other financial aspects of their companies.
There’s a middle ground, though: you shouldn’t be getting lost in your books. You should be focusing on growing your business, using those financials to make smart choices. The right accounting software can help you understand your financial situation without sucking hours and hours of your time.
Here are some of the best small business services in the accounting arena.
Intuit’s online accounting offering, QuickBooks is a favorite small business service among entrepreneurs looking to streamline their bookkeeping. Whether you’re a restaurant owner, an online store manager, a freelancer or consultant, or another kind of small business owner altogether, QuickBooks has something for you. It’s got the basics that anyone can use easily—but it also comes with plenty of advanced options and settings for the particularly curious.
If you’re convinced, QuickBooks Online comes in a few different plans, with the cheapest at $9.99 per month. And don’t forget to factor in the 150+ business apps that QuickBooks integrates with, each of which can make your life that much easier.
FreshBooks is the big QuickBooks competitor, and many of the features are practically the same. Since everyone has their own preferences, you might want to try both out for a spin and see which you find more intuitive, but in terms of functionality you won’t go wrong with either of these small business services.
Here’s something of note, though: FreshBooks has an especially easy-to-use mobile app that business owners who balance books on the go might be swayed by. If you’re analyzing your budget away from a computer, FreshBooks might have the edge over its competition.
If you’re not bothered by ad banners, then consider signing up with Wave—a free accounting program for small business owners. Although there are also premium features and excellent customer service options available if you dish out some dough for an upgrade, Wave offers all the necessary basics for small business accounting.
Who ever said small business services had to cost you?
Maybe “small business” is a bit ambitious for you—you’re looking for accounting software that fits your extra-small size.
Zoho Books could be exactly the option you want. Simple, straightforward, flexible, and mobile-friendly, it’s a great choice for your bookkeeping. And don’t let their $24/month price tag scare you away, because you’d actually be paying more with the above options to get the same set of features you receive with Zoho Books. From estimates and invoices to unlimited projects and users, Zoho Books gives you total control over your small business’s finances.
Known as the QuickBooks alternative, Xero is an easy and inexpensive small business service that can save you money without cutting out anything vital. With that said, one of QuickBooks’ biggest draws is its popularity… So if you work with an accountant or bookkeeper, it’s way more likely that they’re using QuickBooks than nearly anything else.
With a focus on easy accounting, Sage One promises to do away with all those confusing charts and keep things simple (without sacrificing the complexity you need!). You can get just the mobile app for free, pay a low monthly cost for the basic program, or upgrade to $33 a month for the premium experience.
Outright—also known as GoDaddy Bookkeeping—helps entrepreneurs make tax season a breeze with automatic financial data important and organization, Schedule Cs, and invoicing. Get rid of the time and energy burden that tax season lays on you.
Also created by Intuit, Quicken serves as a home for your personal and business financials in one place. If you’re based in your home or your operation is really super extra small, then this is a sensible alternative to the bigger, more expensive apps above.
However, do note that it’s only available for Windows at the moment!
If you’re planning on putting your small business up on the internet—and you definitely should be—then you’re going to need a web host.
(If you don’t know, a web host is a company that provides you space to store and display your content, whether it’s a personal blog or an e-store. You’ll want to pay special attention to web hosts with good customer service, unlimited bandwidth or disk space, and low downtime allowances. Here’s a guide to what you should look for.)
These small business services can’t go ignored—especially since an online presence, in this day and age, is an absolute must. Here are a few web hosting small business services that check all the right boxes for small business owners.
Unlimited hosting, unlimited domains, unlimited bandwidth, free advertising credits, free web apps and tools, and high-quality customer support: that’s what you get for just under $6/month with HostGator’s Business plan. If you’re taking it slow, you can pay even less for just the basics, however. As far as web hosting small business services go, checking this one out is a must.
Although you won’t get any Google AdWords marketing credits with SiteGround, you will be working with a 99.9% uptime guarantee… Which means your website should be as safe, secure, and operational as you want and need. And if your small business plan includes a WordPress blog, SiteGround might be especially enticing. Plus, they carry out daily server backups to make sure your content is well cared for.
With an intuitive control panel and generous guarantees, Netfirms also provides marketing credits, website templates, and a 24/7 customer service team to call home about. They’ll also help you search for, register, and secure a domain name if you haven’t yet.
On top of the regular features, InMotion Hosting also promises benefits like unlimited company email addresses, easy website expansion plans, and more that might be very appealing to a small business owner.
However, you should note than even their most expensive plan doesn’t offer unlimited domains for a single account. If you’re only running one business, that shouldn’t pose a problem, but depending on your plans it might be worth considering.
You’ve probably heard of GoDaddy: in the world of web hosting, it’s one of the more popular brands around. They offer a number of different pricing plans, but almost always have rotating specials you can (and should!) take advantage of when setting up your business’s website. They’re also especially friendly towards WordPress installations.
A GoDaddy competitor, BlueHost offers many of the same tiered payment options—with nearly identical terms. You can also purchase website migration services, 1-click website hosting, and cloud hosting solutions, depending on your needs.
Chances are pretty high that you use email, oh, every single day. For small business owners, email is all-important: it’s often the communication channel of choice for your customers, employees, suppliers, manufacturers, and everyone in between. People spend nearly 30% of their time at work doing something related to email, in fact.
The point is, you should make sure that the email client you’re using is up to snuff. While there are plenty of free options out there, many with robust feature lists, successful businesses pay for email clients for a reason. There are just some tools that only a business will need—and, generally speaking, will have to pay for.
Here are a few email client small business services to consider.
Although the wildly popular Gmail app is free to use and full of useful tools, Gmail for Business offers much more flexibility and power for only $5 a month. You’ll get unlimited storage, 24/7 customer service, advanced controls and permissions, mobile device management and security, a strong uptime guarantee, and more—including, of course, your own company’s name in the email address.
And once you’ve grown big enough, you can also consider Vault, Google’s advanced business email client. It comes with user audits, legal freezes that prevents email and chat deletions, advanced archiving, and much more.
If you’re looking to pay less and don’t think you need all the storage that Gmail offers, consider ZohoMail. Although their lower price point also comes with a few drawbacks, this small business service is largely indistinguishable from its big competitor. However, there is one other big advantage: ZohoMail also syncs with a ton of business apps, helping you manage everything from inventory to human resources.
From video conferencing to 1 terabyte of storage, Microsoft’s suite of small business services is pretty hefty… Including Microsoft Outlook, a tried-and-true business email client. The management features available at a relatively low cost are enormously helpful for growing businesses, as well.
Another alternative you might not have heard of unless you’ve been investigating the email provider side of small business services, Rackspace offers an especially robust customer service package with 10 global data centers and over 3,000 cloud engineers. They also point out how more than half of the Fortune 100, alongside thousands of other global companies, have chosen Rackspace as their dedicated cloud-based email host.
You might think that only big corporations need fancy things like software for human resources, but that would be a mistake. In fact, HR software is one of the more popular small business services out there: more than half of all companies plan to buy HR software in the next 1.5 years for good reason.
Simply put, HR software helps you manage your work efficiently, avoid personnel problems that can hurt your business, and “centralize your workflow” (or, in English, stay organized). Small businesses in particular face a couple of challenges that could hurt them in the long run, from finding and retaining the best employees to facing potential compliance issues.
Here are some small business services that could help.
From recruiting to scheduling, PeopleMatter helps you manage your workforce well, especially if your small business operates in the service industry. You can access this app over the phone or on your mobile device, like over 300,000 other businesses do, for just $89 a month.
You might’ve heard of Cézanne the painter, but did you know it’s an HR management software, too? Designed with small companies looking to scale in mind, Cezanne is a cloud-based platform that charges according to what you need. Beyond the basics of health and safety compliance, training, disciplinary actions, and so on, you can choose among a set of “modules” they offer—like analytics and payroll solutions.
A startup for startups—and other small but growing businesses—Namely offers an especially user-friendly service to those looking to improve their human resources management. From payroll, benefits, and time tracking to its unique social media functionality, this small business service makes HR more familiar to your employees.
Enter: BambooHR. With an affordable price tag and an easy-to-use interface, this web-and-mobile app could be a great HR management tool if you’re looking for a wide selection of features without getting lost in an instruction manual or breaking the bank.
Jazz is less of a catch-all HR solution and more of a recruiting tool for small businesses. Through Jazz you’ll be able to easily put up job postings, gather a list of acceptable applicants, get referrals, make background checks, set up interview appointments, and more. If you’re looking to grow, small business services like this can help.
Did you know that 20 million civil cases are filed each year?
60% of those are contract disputes, while 11% are tort cases—a category that includes slip-and-falls, employment discrimination suits, and more. And unfortunately, many of these suits are brought against innocent small business owners without the time or resources to defend themselves against wrongful accusations.
Plus, all small business owners will need legal help sooner or later, whether it’s to help hammer out a partnership agreement or to write up a contract.
But lawyers are expensive.
Fortunately, there are plenty of small business services out there that can help you manage the legal side of your entrepreneurship.
If you’re looking for help creating legal documents, reviewing contracts, and signing forms online, then Rocket Lawyer is one of those must-have small business services. There are a few different free trials you can experiment with, but unlimited legal documents and answers to your law questions from real life lawyers comes at the low price of $39.95 per month.
While it’s a bit cheaper at only $23.99 per month, LegalZoom charges extra for providing and filing certain legal documents. However, they balance the scales by giving you access to actual attorneys, who will analyze your documents and talk you through your legal concerns step by step.
Ever just want to grab a lawyer and ask them a quick question… Without paying through the nose for their answer? Check out Avvo. They offer free online Q&As, as well as $39 fixed fee phone conversations with lawyers right when you need them—you just enter the topic, submit your request, and wait an average of 8 minutes to get your call.
Nolo is actually a 40-year-old network of legal sites bundled together—much of it for free. With a comprehensive lawyer directory, over 50 sites with legal content, and thousands of eguides, templates, sample forms, and more, you’re sure to find what you need to run a successful small business.
Want free legal advice? Look no further than LawGuru, another one of those legal-oriented small business services that provides answers to your questions from one of their 8,800 actual attorneys. The site is fairly straightforward, and you can get real answers to your problems right away.
However, as with all of these small business services giving you legal advice, it’s always important to keep in mind that you should consult with a lawyer before making any big final decisions. While getting affordable advice online can help you cut costs, the specifics of your business (that only a dedicated lawyer would know) could dramatically change your circumstances.
While we’ve covered a lot, there are plenty of other small business services out there that every entrepreneur should use. Let’s take a look at a few.
We talked about WordPress in the web hosting section because lots of hosts make it a point to integrate seamlessly with this blogging platform.
Because it’s powerful, popular, and incredibly useful! You might think that your particular small business wouldn’t benefit from a blog… But you may be surprised. Successful blogs are cheap to maintain, easy to update, and useful for gaining new customers and keeping old ones interested.
WordPress makes it simple to own and operate your own business blog for as little as $2.99 per month—though you might want to opt for the Business package if you’re interested in integrating with Google Analytics, customizing your designs and themes, and more.
I scratch your back, you scratch mine: that’s the principle behind HARO, or Help A Reporter Out. By connecting reporters, writers, editors, researchers, and so on with experts in their respective fields—like you, for example—HARO helps one side get the facts straight while the other side gets free exposure.
Whether you’re interested in making media connections or getting your business name out there without paying for a PR firm, don’t overlook this (free!) opportunity.
Sometimes small business owners can feel overwhelmed by how much stuff they have. Social media pictures, marketing plans, financial documents, contracts, invoices, designs for future products… Your computer can get pretty cluttered.
If that sounds familiar, then try out a service like Dropbox. With Dropbox you can host files on the cloud, browse your folders on a PC or a mobile phone, and more—for free, if you’re storing 16 GB or less. Plus, Dropbox Business offers unlimited space, file recovery, administrative controls, and more.
We covered email clients, but Mailchimp is an email marketing tool.
Here’s the difference: email clients are small business services that give you the space to host emails and the tools to manage them. An email marketing service helps you use your email to get customers to engage with your business through promotions, newsletters, reminders, and so on.
Mailchimp is especially great for fresh entrepreneurs because they offer 12,000 free emails a month, so long as your email list is 2,000 subscribers or less. Their emails are easy to design and make your own… Plus, you’ll get analytics tools and built-in signup forms for Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress.
And for just $10 a month, you can get additional features like time zone-based delivery, chat support, and more. If you’re reached over 2,000 subscribers, then an email marketing service will pay for itself—and starting off free isn’t too shabby, either.
Whether you’re looking into small business services to free up your time or lower your costs, you’re doing the right thing.
No entrepreneur reaches success all on their own. Eventually, you’ll need to take a hard look at what you need to be doing and what you can outsource to a service instead.
Let us know in the comments if we’ve missed any of your favorite small business services!