18 Best Small-Business Apps

These apps can help you with point-of-sale, accounting, invoicing and payroll.

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The best small-business apps can help you run your company, startup or side hustle more efficiently, saving you time and money. Here are NerdWallet's top picks for accounting, point-of-sale, payroll and invoicing.

Point-of-sale

Point-of-sale systems allow you to ring up customers and complete sales, and the best ones can be customized to fit your business and industry. Restaurants, for example, need POS systems that allow for table management and coordination. Retail shops, meanwhile, require robust inventory management features.

NerdWallet's pick for: Best overall.

Software cost: Free and up. (Additional hardware and payment processing are additional costs.)

Why we like it: Square is easy to use, and the company offers transparent pricing and live support. It’s also mobile-friendly and works on iPhones, iPads and Androids. For small businesses that don’t need advanced functionality, there’s also a free plan.

Square POS

Square
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on Square's website

NerdWallet’s pick for: Restaurants

Software cost: Free and up. (Additional hardware and payment processing are additional costs.)

Why we like it: Toast’s restaurant-specific design prioritizes features that make the back-of-house and front-of-house operate smoothly. You can manage menus and tables easily, get useful reporting and analytics and accept orders from multiple platforms.

NerdWallet’s pick for: Inventory management.

Software cost: $69 per month (billed annually on a plan with Lightspeed Payments) and up. (Hardware and payment processing are additional costs.)

Why we like it: Lightspeed’s inventory management system sets it apart from the competition. That makes it an ideal choice for large businesses that keep track of a lot of inventory in multiple locations, with various discount rules or tax classes.

NerdWallet’s pick for: E-commerce.

Software cost: $29 per month and up. (Hardware and payment processing are additional costs.)

Why we like it: Shopify makes it possible to almost instantly set up and run an e-commerce store and has helpful features like automated emails sent to shoppers who abandon their virtual shopping carts. It also offers software and hardware for accepting payments in store — including the option to rent hardware rather than buying it.

Shopify Retail POS

Shopify
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on Shopify's website

NerdWallet’s pick for: Retail.

Software cost: $99 per month (billed annually) and up. (Hardware and payment processing are additional costs.)

Why we like it: Vend is a retail-specific POS that allows you to set sales targets for your team, manage inventory easily and forecast purchasing trends. It doesn’t come bundled with hardware and payment processing services, so you can choose your favorites from a variety of compatible options.

Accounting

With careful bookkeeping and good accounting software, you can track your business's revenue, profit margins and overall financial health. It can also help you answer important questions, like, "How much can I afford to spend on marketing this month?"

NerdWallet's pick for: Best overall.

Cost: $25 per month and up (50% off for first three months).

Why we like it: QuickBooks is the industry leader for small-business accounting software, so it’s easy to find an accountant or bookkeeper who will support it. Its multiple tiers of service can easily scale with your company, too. QuickBooks Online, the cloud-based version, can also be accessed anywhere.

Quickbooks Online

QuickBooks
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on QuickBooks's website

NerdWallet’s pick for: Unlimited users.

Cost: $12 and up per month.

Why we like it: Xero is easy to use, rich with features and widely supported by bookkeepers and accountants. Unlike some competitors, it doesn’t place any limit on the number of users you can add.

Xero Accounting

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Xero
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on Xero's website

NerdWallet’s pick for: Free option.

Cost: Free (Wave makes money through payment processing).

Why we like it: Unlike its competitors, Wave's accounting software is completely free. With it, you can add unlimited users and unlimited bank and credit card connections. It’s also possible to run multiple businesses from the same account.

NerdWallet’s pick for: Low-cost, high-value.

Cost: Free for businesses with annual revenue under $50,000; otherwise $15 per month and up (billed annually).

Why we like it: Zoho Books offers plenty of useful features at an affordable price, including a free option for businesses that bring in less than $50,000 per year. It also has handy automation tools so you can, for example, send email notifications to yourself when an employee creates an invoice that exceeds a certain amount.

Invoicing

If you send bills or invoices to customers, invoicing software can be a key tool to keep track of transactions and what you’re still owed. The best options also handle quotes and estimates, time tracking and integration with payment processing and accounting systems.

Zoho Invoice

NerdWallet’s pick for: Best overall.

Cost: Free.

Why we like it: Zoho Invoice packs a lot of features into a free option, including estimates, time and expense tracking, invoicing, payment acceptance and a portal where clients can review everything on their account with you. It’s an easy choice if you use other Zoho software like Zoho Books, but even if not, it’s a strong contender.

NerdWallet’s pick for: All-in-one invoicing and accounting solution.

Cost: $15 per month and up (60% off for first six months).

Why we like it: FreshBooks bundles accounting and invoicing tools together with useful automation features, handy mobile apps and integration options. With the mobile app, you can send automated messages to clients to remind them about invoices or late payments. It’s a helpful feature for entrepreneurs on the go.

FreshBooks Accounting

FreshBooks
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on FreshBooks's website

Hiveage

NerdWallet’s pick for: Freelancers.

Cost: Free and up.

Why we like it: Hiveage’s strength is its simplicity. The free and lower-cost versions don’t have as many features as some competitors, but that can be for the best if you just need to send invoices and accept payments for them. The free option allows up to five clients with unlimited invoices, and there are paid tiers that support more clients and more advanced functionality.

NerdWallet’s pick for: Hourly invoicing.

Cost: Free and up.

Why we like it: Harvest makes time tracking easier by using integrations to pull in data from project management and productivity apps like Asana, Slack, Jira and Google Calendar. The free option only supports one user and two projects, but the paid tier, which charges by the seat, allows you to add unlimited users and projects.

Payroll

Paying your employees is a must, and good payroll software can make it easier to manage and track wages, withholdings and tax filings. Many programs also give employees access to a portal so they can view their pay history.

NerdWallet’s pick for: Best overall.

Cost: $39 per month plus $6 per person for the basic package, which includes tax filings and payments.

Why we like it: Gusto gives employees access to a self-service portal for payroll- and benefit-related information that’s accessible even after they leave a company. It also administers full-service payroll across 50 states and offers online and phone support.

Gusto Payroll

Gusto
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on Gusto's website

NerdWallet’s pick for: Integrated payroll solution.

Cost: $45 per month (50% off for first three months) plus $4 per employee per month for the basic package, which includes tax filings and payments.

Why we like it: QuickBooks Payroll offers full-service payroll services in all 50 states with a direct connection to QuickBooks Online, unlimited payroll runs and next-day or same-day deposits. Also nice: Employees can view pay stubs, withholdings and remaining vacation day balances.

QuickBooks Payroll

QuickBooks
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on QuickBooks's website

NerdWallet’s pick for: Low-cost option.

Cost: $10 per month plus $4 per employee or contractor for basic payroll (tax filings and payments not included).

Why we like it: Patriot's payroll software is a relatively affordable payroll option that offers direct deposits, an employee portal, unlimited payrolls and multiple locations and pay frequencies. There’s also email, chat and phone support available.

Patriot Payroll

Patriot Software
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on Patriot Software's website

NerdWallet’s pick for: Best overall free option.

Cost: Free (monthly fees apply for two optional services: tax filings and direct deposit).

Why we like it: Payroll4Free is one of the few payroll companies that allows you to run payroll at no cost — though you’ll have to pay extra for additional services such as tax filing and W-2 processing. It supports tax calculations, PTO tracking, an employee portal, and direct deposits or paper checks. It also offers live and email support.

NerdWallet’s pick for: Larger businesses.

Cost: Prices begin at $59 per month plus $4 per employee for basic payroll, which includes tax filings and payments.

Why we like it: RUN Powered by ADP is the industry leader’s cloud-based payroll software for businesses with up to 49 employees. This app allows you to automate payroll, enter data online or by mobile app and, in more advanced subscription tiers, manage human resources tasks such as background checks.

RUN Powered by ADP®

ADP
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on ADP's website

Bluevine Business Checking

Bluevine Business Checking
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