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18 Best Small-Business Apps of February 2023

These apps can help you with point-of-sale, accounting, invoicing and payroll.
By Claire Tsosie, Alex Rosenberg, Lisa Anthony
Last updated on December 21, 2022
Edited byChristine Aebischer

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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.

Our Nerdy picks for

Point-of-sale systems

Square POS

Point-of-sale systems

Toast POS

Point-of-sale systems

Lightspeed POS

Point-of-sale systems

Shopify Retail POS

Point-of-sale systems

Clover POS

Point-of-sale systems

Vend POS

Our picks for

Point-of-sale systems

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 in their retail point-of-sale systems.

Square POS

5.0
NerdWallet rating 
Shop now

on Square POS's secure website

Payment processing fees

2.6% + 10¢

in-person; 2.6% + 30¢ or 2.9% + 30¢ online, depending on plan.

Monthly fee

$0

Free plan; $29 Plus plan; $79 Premium plan.

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.

Toast POS

4.0
NerdWallet rating 
Shop now

on Toast POS 2's secure website

Payment processing fees

2.99% + $0.15

Monthly fee

$0

Starter Plan. Essentials Plan also available

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.

Lightspeed POS

3.5
NerdWallet rating 
Shop now

on Lightspeed POS's secure website

Payment processing fees

2.6% + 10¢

in-person; 2.6% + 30¢ online.

Monthly fee

$69

$69 and up.

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.

Shopify Retail POS

4.0
NerdWallet rating 
Shop now

on Shopify POS's secure website

Payment processing fees

2.70%

in-person; 2.9% + 30¢ online (Basic plan).

Monthly fee

$0

POS Lite; $89 POS Pro.

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.

Clover POS

4.0
NerdWallet rating 
Shop now

on Clover POS's secure website

Payment processing fees

2.3% + 10¢

or 2.6% +10¢ in-person, depending on plan; 3.5% + 10¢ online.

Monthly fee

$45

Starter and Standard plans; $54.90 Advanced plan when hardware is paid in full. Full-service plans available.

Clover’s sleek hardware options are a good fit for business of many types including restaurants, retail stores and professional services.

Vend POS

Payment processing fees

Not offered.

Must use third-party processor.

Monthly fee

$119

Lean; $179 Standard; $299 Advanced.

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.

Our picks for

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?"

QuickBooks Online

5.0
NerdWallet rating 
Shop now

on QuickBooks Online's secure website

Starting at

$30/mo

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $55, $85, $200.

Promotion

50% off

for first three months or free 30-day trial.

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.

Xero

4.5
NerdWallet rating 
Shop now

on Xero's secure website

Starting at

$13/mo

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $37, $70.

Promotion

30-day free trial

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.

Wave Accounting

3.5
NerdWallet rating 
Starting at

$0

Free (Wave makes money via paid money management products).

Promotion

N/A

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.

Zoho Books

4.0
NerdWallet rating 
Starting at

$0

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $20, $50, $70, $150, $275.

Promotion

14-day free trial

of the Premium plan.

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.

Our picks for

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.

Gusto Payroll

5.0
NerdWallet rating 
Shop now

on Gusto Payroll's secure website

Starting at

$40/mo

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $80, custom pricing. Fee per employee varies by tier.

Promotion

N/A

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.

QuickBooks Payroll

5.0
NerdWallet rating 
Shop now

on QuickBooks Payroll's secure website

Starting at

$45/mo

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $75, $125. Fee per employee varies by tier.

Promotion

50% off

50% off for three months or 30-day free trial; terms apply.

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.

OnPay Payroll

4.5
NerdWallet rating 
Shop now

on OnPay Payroll's secure website

Starting at

$40/mo

Plus $6 per employee.

Promotion

One month free

Terms apply

OnPay offers a wide range of payroll features plus benefits administration and HR tools for one base rate.

Patriot Payroll

4.0
NerdWallet rating 
Shop now

on Patriot Payroll's secure website

Starting at

$17/mo

Plus $4 per employee. Additional pricing tiers (per month): $37.

Promotion

One month free

Terms apply

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.

Payroll4Free

Payroll4Free is one of the few payroll companies that allows you to run payroll at no cost — as long as you aren’t paying over 25 people. You will have to pay 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.

RUN Powered by ADP

4.5
NerdWallet rating 
Shop now

on RUN Powered by ADP's secure website

Starting at

$79/mo

Plus $4 per employee. Custom pricing also available.

Promotion

Three months free

Terms apply

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.

Our picks for

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.

FreshBooks Invoicing

Shop now

on FreshBooks Invoicing's secure website

Starting at

$15

Monthly.

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.

Zoho Invoice

Starting at

$0

Free.

Zoho Invoice has a feature-filled free option, including estimates, time and expense tracking, invoicing, payment acceptance and a portal where clients can review their account.

How to choose the right small-business apps for your needs

Point-of-sale

The best point-of-sale systems reach far beyond simply handling customer payments. Some systems are designed for specific industries, such as retail, online stores and restaurants. In addition to the cost of hardware and software fees, a processing fee for each customer transaction will typically be assessed. When comparing systems, pay attention to the following:
  • Hardware options including card readers, terminals, cash drawers and receipt printers.
  • Inventory tracking features.
  • Monthly software fees and payment processing fees.
  • Accepts swiped, tapped and keyed payments.
  • Offline and mobile payment processing options.
  • Live support offered 24/7.

Accounting

Accounting software, at a minimum, tracks the income and expenditures of a small business. The best accounting software has additional features that can make it easier to determine the financial health of your business. Look for the following features:
  • Easy to use.
  • Robust accounting reports.
  • Invoicing capabilities.
  • Integrations with third-party apps including payroll and point-of-sale systems.
  • Daily customer support.
  • Scalability.

Payroll

The best payroll software does more than help you pay your employees on time. Transparent pricing is a timesaver when comparing products and you’ll want to look for the following features:
  • Unlimited payroll runs.
  • Calculates, files and pays federal, state and local payroll taxes.
  • Provides employee access through a portal or mobile app.
  • Benefits administration.
  • Next-day or same-day direct deposit options.
  • Accounting integrations.

Invoicing

The best invoicing software goes beyond simply creating bills for your services. It can help you create quotes, track time and communicate with your customers. Before comparing products, consider the following:
  • How much do you want to pay each month?
  • What features are must-haves?
  • Does it need to be scalable?
  • Does it need to integrate with other software you use?
  • Are you interested in bundling with another app such as accounting?
Last updated on December 21, 2022