11 Free Apps Every Small Business Owner Needs

By Meredith Wood / 14 November 2018

This list of 11 free apps will help small business owners and their employees stay organized and productive at no cost.

Small business owners should have every tool at their fingertips to help their company succeed. And with countless banking, budgeting, accounting, and operations tasks on your to-do list, every little automation can help.

That’s where apps come in. Though some of the biggest apps in the business world come with high monthly fees, there are also a plethora of options that are totally free.

There’s a seemingly endless list of business apps out there, but you should see if a free app can do the job before splurging on paid ones if you want to keep costs down. The right apps can make your life so much easier, from helping your team communicate better to keeping your budgets in check.

Eventually, you can upgrade to paid versions if you find you need more options and capabilities — but for now, here are 11 free apps every small business owner should download ASAP.

1. Make Calls With Skype

Lots of mobile apps promise free video calls, but few are as comprehensive and easy to use as Skype.

Many small business owners rely on distant contractors and consultants, and video meetings can make communication endlessly easier. Small businesses can use Skype to stay in touch all over the world with HD video, screen sharing (handy for presentations), and call recording.

Skype-to-Skype calls using the app are completely free, and you can get Skype for Business as part of Microsoft Office 365 for a small monthly fee.

2. Communicate Easier With Slack

Slack is leading the new wave of work communication and productivity apps.

Use Slack to send messages to individuals, groups, or within larger “channels,” rather than flood employee inboxes with every idea and whim or deal with the frustration of manually adding email addresses to an urgent update.

You can also integrate with other workflow apps and conduct video calls on Slack.

Although the paid versions of the app are more robust, small startups can reap plenty of benefits from the free version.

3. Take Notes With Evernote

It's likely you’ve had a stroke of brilliance but forgot to write the idea down or met a great new contact but failed to grab his or her information – that's only human. This especially applies to small business owners who have a multitude of tasks and goals to complete every day, leaving little room for remembering the little things.

A note-taking app can work wonders for recording, organizing, and sharing all your ideas with your team, and Evernote’s free version is one of the best out there. This app lets you sync your notes between devices and keep those to-do lists organized.

Evernote

The free version even syncs with your phone’s voice assistant, allowing you to dictate notes on the go.

4. Manage Your Budget With Mint

Mint is the premier name in budget management, and its app is both free and easy to use –  which is good because budgeting is a sorely overlooked aspect of running a small business.

Tracking your one-time fees, your ongoing fixed and variable fees, your surprise expenses, and everything else can be a daunting task. Failing to do so is often the difference between your business's success and failure.

A firm grasp of your budget will help you spring for the occasional perk – such as a holiday party for your team – and gives you a clearer sense of if you'll need additional financing to keep things moving and growing.

5. Create Invoices With Wave

Wave is another free app that helps business owners with their budgeting and accounting needs and has additional financial features you might love.

Wave allows users to create and send personalized yet professional invoices in any currency as well as quickly turn estimates into approved invoices.

You can use Wave to make unlimited bank and credit card connections, track income and expenses, and scan an unlimited number of receipts (including when you’re offline).

If you like what you see, you can move into accepting credit cards and bank payments and managing payroll for a price.

6. Organize Your Travels With TripIt

Hopefully, you’re lucky enough to do a little traveling while conducting your business. But if you do more than a little, you may find your numerous tickets, confirmation emails, receipts, and itineraries hard to manage.

TripIt is an app for organizing your travel plans, syncing your calendars, and letting important people know where you’re headed.

TripIt

The Pro version, available in a trial, also gives you access to travel perks – such as preferred seat notifications and access to exclusive airport lounge information – and keeps you notified of possible flight refunds, if necessary.

7. Simplify Scheduling With When I Work

When I Work is a combination employee-scheduling and communication app that keeps everyone on the same page.

Scheduling hourly employees can take hours each week, and issues arise when someone requests time off, a shift opens up, or employees insist they’ve worked more than they’re being paid for.

Keep yourself and employees accountable with a digital schedule that anyone can consult at any time via the app. This is all free if you have 75 or fewer employees.

8. Manage Your Time With Toggl

Learning to manage time effectively is one of the most important skills a small business owner needs to succeed. Toggl is a time-tracking application that helps business owners become more productive, gain a better sense of how their time is being used, and create reports reflecting those new insights.

You can set up “idle detectors” or reminders so you don’t lose precious data to forgetfulness. You can also start and stop timers from multiple devices.

The Basic plan is good for small teams and includes quality features like a Pomodoro timer and integrations with other workflow and productivity tools like Basecamp, Asana, Github, and Freshbooks.

9. Ease Banking Problems With Simple

Maybe you’re happy with your business banking solution – or maybe you’re constantly being hit with surprise fees or feeling bogged down with unnecessary product offerings and slow mobile sites.

Simple is a renowned banking option for small businesses, offering an FDIC-insured checking account with no hidden fees or minimum balances.

They even have a robust network of fee-free ATMs across the country. The account and app are free.

10. Scan Documents With Genius Scan

Scanning documents still feels like a business operations relic. We use our phones for so much nowadays, it seems like scanning should be no exception.

With an app like Genius Scan, take a picture of whatever documents you need to send (receipts, contracts, employee onboarding forms, etc.), and they can easily be exported as a JPEG or PDF. 

Sister app Genius Sign, which allows you to sign or annotate those documents with your finger, is available for iOS for a small fee. 

11. Create a Successful Instagram Strategy With UNUM

No matter what type of business you own, your social media marketing efforts are no longer complete without an Instagram page. As the platform skyrockets in popularity, you’ll want to keep your Instagram audience engaged, and an app such as UNUM — which allows you to schedule and visually plan your content ahead of time — makes that easy.

The Essential plan features include 18 total “grids” that you can schedule, 500 uploads per month, and up to three #hashtags per post.  

Free Apps Can Benefit Your Business

These apps can be powerful additions to your small business’s workflow, and they’re free (and many of them have paid versions with low fees). That means you get the best bang for your buck with little risk or downside.

Give them a shot and see why they’ve become essential for so many businesses.

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