Best Small Business Software

Best Free Software for Small Businesses in 2021

Finding the right free small business software can be a game changer. We've scoured the market to bring you the very best free software tools to help your business grow.

Good software is expensive, and free software is typically full of bugs or not secure. However, high-quality, free software tools do exist. They're hard to find, but worth searching for – these solutions can provide a big boost to your business at an unbeatable ROI.

Most often, software vendors offer these free plans as a way to acquire new customers. They hope that you'll enjoy their products, and eventually decide to pay for a more advanced, full-featured version of their software.

We've tested each of the free plans listed below. In fact, we use many of these small business tools ourselves. While you might choose to upgrade to a paid plan in the future, these free plans provide enough functionality that you likely won't need to.

Table of Contents

What Software Do Small Businesses Need?

Software is quickly becoming a necessary ingredient to running any small business. Today, software exists to support every major business function. In addition, small businesses have been increasingly forced to use software to acquire & engage customers through the Internet and digital communication channels. The major types of software used by small businesses are:

Is There Any Free Accounting Software?

Accounting software is one of the most universally used among small businesses. Fortunately, there is high-quality, free accounting software. The best free accounting software plan is offered by Wave. Here's an overview of the features available in Wave's free plan:

ModuleFeatures
Accounting software
  • Unlimited income and expense tracking
  • Track sales tax on income and expenses
  • Fully functional double entry system. Generate financial statements for year-end
  • Powerful reports on Overdue Invoices & Bills, Cash Flow, Profit & Loss and more
  • Unlimited bank and credit card connections
  • Instantly see how your business is performing on your dashboard
Invoicing
  • Unlimited invoices: make and send as many as you'd like
  • Accept credit card and bank payments right in the invoice (fees as low as 1%)
  • Get more time back with recurring billing
  • Automatically sync your invoices and accounting all in one place
Receipt Scanning
  • Unlimited receipt scanning with our free mobile app
  • Integrate seamlessly with the accounting software by Wave
  • Capture receipts even when you’re offline
  • Available on Android and iOS
  • Incorporate receipts into your accounting reports
  • Scan multiple receipts all at once

The Best Free Software For Small Businesses

Below is our list of the best free software for small businesses. Our team of analysts has reviewed hundreds of software products – those below are highly rated, and happen to be 100% free. In fact, we use the majority of these tools ourselves.

Podium Starter

Podium is a highly popular customer engagement tool that is used by over 50,000 small businesses of all types. Major features include two-way text messaging, web chat, customer review management, and payment processing.

The full product is expensive – it starts at about $400 per month. However, Podium recently launched a free version of its product, known as Podium Starter. Podium Starter includes most major features found in Podium's paid plan – each is just more limited. For example, Podium Starter only includes 250 review invites.

Podium Starter
Rating: 91
Starting Price: Free

Podium Starter is a free reputation management tool with features like webchat, review management, and payment processing. While there are limits to how many messages and review invitations can be utilized per month, the tool has fantastic value for a free product. We highly recommend Podium Starter for small businesses and to anyone looking to try a reputation management software.

Pros:
  • Significant value for a free product
  • Reliable choice for smaller businesses
  • Easy-to-navigate interface for an easy learning curve
Cons:
  • Limit of 10 customer review invitations per month
  • Limit of 100 outbound messages sent per month
  • Customer can only text and cannot chat on desktop

PandaDoc

PandaDoc is one of the leading electronic signature software vendors in the world. They also happen to offer the best free plan in their market. PandaDoc's free plan allows you to create and send an unlimited number of documents each month. We take advantage of this plan ourselves.

PandaDoc
Rating: 90
Starting Price: $25 per month

PandaDoc is an electronic signature tool used by over 20,000 companies. While PandaDoc can be used for any type of legal agreement, it does have a specific focus on supporting the deal process for sales professionals. This solution is best for sales professionals, and any organization that has a more complex document workflow.

Pros:
  • PandaDoc’s free plan allows you to send unlimited documents
  • PandaDoc offers a library of over 450 templates
  • Includes valuable sales features like interactive quotes, a content library, and in-document payment processing
Cons:
  • Its document editor is missing standard editing features like being able reorder pages
  • The ability to collect mass signatures comes at an extra cost
  • PandaDoc does not give you the ability to receive recurring payments through the platform

SEMrush

SEMrush is one of the most popular software platforms used by search marketers. If you invest in search engine optimization (SEO) or paid search ads on Google, SEMrush can help. The software comes with many useful features to help you find target keywords, build search ads, track your performance in online search, and learn about your top competitors.

The company doesn't really advertise its free plan – but it exists. Read our guide on how to get a SEMrush free plan.

Semrush

Semrush

Best Overall SEO Software
Rating: 96
Starting Price: $119.95 per month

Semrush is the best all-in-one search software tool for keyword research, competitive analysis, position tracking, and more. It will save you hours finding new high-volume keywords to target in paid and organic search, give you visibility into your competitors' online marketing tactics, and help you monitor your website's SEO performance.

Pros:
  • Keyword research tool to discover popular search terms for paid campaigns & high-volume keywords to target with SEO
  • Competitive analysis tool to identify your top competitors & spy on their online marketing tactics
  • Excellent keyword rank tracking tool to monitor how well your site is ranking on Google over time
Cons:
  • DeepCrawl and Screaming Frog are superior for on-page SEO auditing
  • Ahrefs is slightly better for backlink analysis
  • More expensive than free tools like Google's Ads Keyword Planner

SMSBump

SMSBump is a popular SMS marketing tool ideal for Shopify and BigCommerce stores looking to build powerful campaigns centered around customer retention and engagement. Over 90,000 businesses have used SMSBump for their ecommerce stores. Standout features like campaign flows, segmentations, and diverse automations help both new and experienced ecommerce businesses build successful SMS marketing campaigns.

SMSBump's free plan includes features like SMS campaigns and automations, primary subscription tools, audience segmentation, ROI and performance analytics, a Yotpo integrations and 24/7 email and chat support.

SMSBump
Rating: 88
Starting Price: $0.0149 per message

SMSBump is a SMS marketing platform for Shopify and BigCommerce used by over 90,000 businesses. Standout features like campaign flows, segmentations, and automations make SMSBump the most powerful text marketing solution for ecommerce businesses.

Pros:
  • SMSBump's flow builder is one of the most powerful SMS marketing campaign builders
  • SMSBump has a plethora of segment conditions specific to ecommerce businesses
  • Relevant and helpful templates are provided for both segmentations and automations
Cons:
  • Flow building and A/B testing are not available for BigCommerce
  • Custom fields cannot be created to store alternative customer information
  • A/B testing is only available in SMSBump's most expensive plan

Gist

Gist is a leading live chat application. Gist offers a host of support and marketing features. Support features include live chat, chat triggers, chatbots, and agent performance reports. The marketing features include contact management, email marketing, and website popups. The free plan includes two seats and basic live chat capabilities.

Gist
Rating: 88
Starting Price: $29 per month

Gist is a customer messaging software with over 10,000 customers. Its notable features include event tracking and cross-channel campaigns. It is ideal for anyone looking for an affordable mid-tier customer messaging solution.

Pros:
  • Free plans are more robust than competitors' free plans
  • Advanced cross-channel messaging capabilities
  • Buildable forms and popups to capture and convert leads
Cons:
  • Chat history feature is not designed practically
  • Customer support wait times can be long
  • Limited integrations list

Tawk.to

Tawk.to is another leading live chat application. Installing its live chat widget on your website will allow you to engage your website visitors in real time. Tawk.to gives away its software for free – you only need to pay if you want to remove their branding, or use one of their value-add services. For example, you can hire an agent to chat with your web visitors for as little as $1 per hour.

tawk.to
Rating: 90
Starting Price: Free

Tawk.to is a free live chat solution with over 3 million users. It focuses solely on live chat, with features like ticketing and screen sharing, and tawk.to also allows customers to directly hire virtual assistants and chat agents. Tawk.to is the best free live chat software and would benefit any company searching for a free option.

Pros:
  • Entirely free
  • More robust than competitors' free plans
  • Tawk.to customers can directly hire chat agents and virtual assistants
Cons:
  • Not quite as user-friendly as paid competitors
  • No chatbot or email marketing features
  • Must pay to remove "Powered by tawk.to" branding

Doxy.me

Doxy.me is one of the world's most popular HIPAA compliant video conferencing solutions. Over 200,000 healthcare professionals use Doxy.me for telemedicine. If you're a medical professional, or just want a well-built, secure video conferencing tool, we recommend trying Doxy.me's free plan.

Doxy.me

Doxy.me

Best Telemedicine Tool
Rating: 93
Starting Price: Free

Doxy.me provides a HIPAA and HITECH compliant platform that streamlines the delivery of telemedicine for over 40,000 providers. Doxy.me differentiates from the competition through a focus on reducing cost and complexity. They offer a fully functional free version of the software that is HIPAA compliant and can be used for unlimited sessions. We recommend it for therapists looking to expand into telemedicine who cannot do this through their current practice management systems.

Pros:
  • Seamless experience for both the patient and the provider
  • Abiilty to accept payments and exchange documents
  • Offer completely free, fully functional unlimited plan
Cons:
  • Will be another tool that you need to maintain outside your core practice management system
  • Can only accept credit cards through the system

Google Drive

You've probably heard of Google Drive. It's the cloud storage and document product that contains Microsoft competitors such as Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides. The business plan starts at $8 per person per month. However, Google Drive is completely free for individuals.

Google Drive
Rating: 97
Starting Price: Free

Google Drive is a suite of apps similar to Microsoft Office, only it relies on the cloud to store files rather than saving them to your hard drive. In addition, you can store up to 15 GB in the cloud for free. We strongly recommend Google Drive for individuals and SMBs.

Pros:
  • Free for up to 15 GB of storage
  • Stores documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in one central location
  • Built-in collaboration features streamline group work
Cons:
  • Need to pay for additional storage beyond 15 GB

Slack

Slack is a widely-used team collaboration software platform. Organizations use it to streamline person-to-person communication – you might think of it as similar to AOL Instant Messenger, if you're old enough to remember it.

Slack's free plan comes with all of its major features – team chat, 1:1 voice and video calls, 10 integrations with other apps like Google Drive or Office, and 10,000 saved messages. We are satisfied customers of the free plan at SoftwarePundit.

Slack
Rating: 96
Starting Price: Free

Though Slack isn't a project management system on its own, it can be a powerful tool to help teams collaborate more closely on projects, and can serve as an excellent supplement to your project management system. By facilitating more collaboration within the team, team members will be able to quickly tackle any roadblocks that may prevent them from delivering their work on time. In addition, Slack integrates with most major project management systems, which makes it a powerful collaboration tool that every team should consider using.

Pros:
  • Chat channels help compartmentalize topics of discussion and make communications more efficient, particularly in organizations that have many teams
  • Powerful integrations with more than 1,000 applications, including Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Trello, and Jira
  • Built-in phone calls, video chat, and screen sharing features
Cons:
  • Occasionally has availability issues that prevent users from accessing the app
  • Slack is priced per active team member, so it can get expensive if you have a large team

Trello

Trello is a highly popular project management software used by organizations around the world. Its product helps teams stay organized and finish projects on schedule. We use the free plan's kanban-style board to track the progress of tasks for various projects.

Trello
Rating: 92
Starting Price: Free

Trello is a popular project management tool that enables teams to organize projects, break them down into manageable tasks, assign deadlines, and track projects in a visually appealing, easy-to-use drag-and-drop user interface. Since Trello connects to other apps in your workflow, such as Slack, Google Drive, and Jira, you can effectively communicate and collaborate throughout every stage of your projects, from start to finish.

Pros:
  • Create unlimited number of boards to track individual and team-wide projects
  • Attach files to cards to track progress of projects
  • Easy drag-and-drop functionality makes it easy to update the status of projects in real time
  • Cloud-based boards are accessible anywhere you have an Internet connection
Cons:
  • No built-in time tracking, though it is available through third-party tools and power-ups
  • Boards with a large number of cards may load slowly
  • Deleted cards cannot be recovered if you accidentally delete them

Avail

Avail is built specifically for property managers. While it's not for all small businesses, this property management software is a good tool to be aware of. The free plan does not include payment processing fees, property marketing tools, or credit checks.

Avail
Rating: 85
Starting Price: Free

Avail is a popular property management solution used by over 200,000 independent landlords nationwide. Avail is best suited for landlords managing 1 to 15 units. This platform includes property marketing tools, automatic rent collection, maintenance request tracking, and eLeasing.

Pros:
  • Avail offers a free plan that includes all of its major features, but charges tenants for bank transfers, credit card transactions, and tenant screenings
  • Syndicates property listings to ten popular listing websites
  • Allows independent landlords to easily implement automatic rent collection and maintenance request tracking
  • Includes a digital leasing tool which allows you to draft, send, and receive eLeases
Cons:
  • Does not include an accounting module
  • While it is free, Avail's reporting is less robust than alternatives
  • Avail’s free plan does not include a marketing website or customizable applications & leases
  • Does not offer an open API which restricts third-party integrations

Wave

Wave is a freemium accounting software that’s ideal for service-based small businesses. The accounting reports, invoicing, and business bank accounts are offered for free; services like payroll and bookkeeping must be purchased. With a streamlined dashboard, easy-to-navigate interface, and add-on features like payroll and tax filing, Wave is a fantastic choice for any small business with standard accounting needs.

Wave
Rating: 86
Starting Price: Free

Wave is a freemium accounting tool designed for freelancers and small businesses. With features like invoicing, accounting reports, payroll, and bookkeeping services, Wave is a great option for service-based businesses with standard accounting needs.

Pros:
  • Wave offers features for free that most alternatives charge for
  • Extremely well-built and user-friendly interface
  • Wave offers bookkeeping services for those without a dedicated bookkeeper
Cons:
  • It's very difficult to get in touch with the Wave support team
  • Payroll comes at an additional monthly cost
  • Lacking inventory management features that many businesses require
Bruce Hogan

Bruce Hogan is Co-founder & CEO of SoftwarePundit. He leads the team's research and publishes content about software products and trends. Bruce has experience investing at multi-billion dollar private equity firms, leading teams at venture-backed technology companies, and launching new businesses. You can connect with Bruce on LinkedIn.

Bruce is an expert in several software categories including:

  • Dental software
  • Mental health software
  • SEO software
  • Social media software

Get the latest from SoftwarePundit

We'll share our latest software reviews, technology tips, and deals.

*