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.
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:
Customer relationship management (CRM) software
Project management software
Recruiting & HR software
Electronic signature software
Document management software
Team communication software
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:
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
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
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 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 is an Interaction Management™ Platform used to generate and manage online reviews, streamline customer interactions through messaging, and monitor customer sentiment. The company has over 45,000 customers in healthcare, home services, retail, auto services, professional services, and hospitality.
Highly-rated mobile app allows you to manage customer conversations on-the-go
Includes a team chat tool for individual and group conversations
Each account gets a client success manager
Does not include a business directory listings tool
Customer survey feature is more limited than some competitors
Conversations that start with webchat must be handled via text message
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 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.
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
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 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 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.
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
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
Tawk.to is a 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 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.
Tawk.to customers can directly hire chat agents and virtual assistants
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 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 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.
Seamless experience for both the patient and the provider
Abiilty to accept payments and exchange documents
Offer completely free, fully functional unlimited plan
Will be another tool that you need to maintain outside your core practice management system
Can only accept credit cards through the system
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 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.
Stores documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in one central location
Built-in collaboration features streamline group work
Need to pay for additional storage beyond 15 GB
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.
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.
Team-based public and private chat channels help employees compartmentalize topics of discussion and communicate more efficiently, particularly in organizations that have many teams
Customizable notification levels enable users to get looped in about the topics that matter most, without getting overloaded with messages
Powerful integrations with more than 1,000 applications, including file storage solutions like Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive, and project management software like Trello and Jira
Built-in phone calls, video chat (up to 15 people), and screen sharing features
Occasionally has availability issues that prevent users from accessing the app
No fuzzy search capabilities when searching through message history, though this may be added in the future
Trello is a highly popular project management software used by organizations around the world. It's 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 is a popular project management tool that enables teams to organize projects, break them down into manageable tasks, assign deadlines, and track the progress of tasks in a visually appealing, easy-to-use drag-and-drop user interface. Agile businesses will find Trello useful for organizing their work processes and collaborating across teams in a more efficient manner. 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.
Create unlimited number of boards to track individual and organization/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
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 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 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.
Bruce Hogan is Co-founder & CEO of SoftwarePundit, a technology research firm that provides advice, information, and tools to help businesses thrive. Bruce has experience investing at multi-billion dollar private equity firms, leading teams at venture-backed Internet companies, and launching new businesses. He can be found on LinkedIn here.