Problem solver. Communicator. Financial whiz. Running a small business involves wearing a lot of hats. If you’re looking to increase productivity and organization — or just make your life as an entrepreneur a little easier — a good business app might be just what you need.
To help you navigate the seemingly endless sea of business apps, we’ve compiled a list of our favorites and broken them down by category. The 25 apps in these categories can help you stay organized and in charge, no matter which hat you’re wearing.
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Best business apps for finance and accounting
These apps can streamline all of your business’s financial tasks, including payroll and taxes, and give you a better picture of your company’s financial health.
This app, formerly known as ZenPayroll, streamlines your company’s payroll, tax and benefits process.
Features: In addition to managing online employee onboarding, Gusto automatically reports new hires to the government; handles all local, state and federal tax filings; automates deductions for benefits and workers’ comp payments; and emails digital pay stubs to employees.
Price: Gusto charges a base price of $39 per month plus $6 per month, per employee, for its Core payroll product; a business with 10 employees would pay $99 per month. It offers a one-month free trial. Gusto currently serves more than 40,000 businesses.
QuickBooks’ accounting software helps you run your business and provides a sense of your company’s overall financial health.
Features: You can use QuickBooks to track your business’ sales and expenses; view financial statements, such as profit and loss reports; pay your employees and vendors; track unpaid invoices; and more.
QuickBooks connects to thousands of accounts — including your business bank account, credit cards, PayPal and Square — and uploads data from these sources seamlessly. It also simplifies doing your business taxes, as it tracks expenses and lets you upload photos of receipts from your phone. With QuickBooks Online, you can access QuickBooks on your iPhone, iPad, Android phone or Android tablet.
Price: Plans cost from $5 to $35 per month for the first six months and $10 to $50 per month thereafter. A 30-day free trial is available. It’s free to download with your QuickBooks Online subscription.
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This app gives small-business owners and freelance workers a simple way to manage and track invoices.
Features: FreshBooks lets you create personalized, professional-looking invoices; automatically bill your clients for recurring invoices; and accept credit cards on your mobile device. Other useful features include the ability to track and organize expenses from anywhere and create customizable business reports, such as profit and loss statements.
Price: FreshBooks costs $15 per month for businesses with up to five clients, $25 per month for businesses with six to 50 clients, and $50 per month for businesses with 51 to 500 clients. A free 30-day trial is available, and you can save 10% each month if you buy an annual subscription. The mobile app is available free for iOS and Android devices.
Wave is an easy-to-use accounting software platform specifically for small businesses, independent contractors and sole proprietors with nine or fewer employees.
Features: Wave lets businesses track sales and expenses, manage invoices and customer payments, pay employees, scan receipts and generate accounting reports. The company recently added free personal finance software to help small-business owners manage their finances in one place.
Price: Wave’s software is available for free download on the website; its free invoicing and receipt-tracking mobile apps are available for download in the Apple store. You’ll pay to accept credit card transactions (2.9% plus 30 cents for each transaction), for bank payment processing (1% per transaction) and for payroll management ($20 base fee plus $4 per employee, per month, for most states).
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Best business apps for communication
Communicating effectively is critical for the daily operations of small businesses. Here are some of the best communication apps to improve productivity within your company.
Features: Addappt makes it easier to manage your contacts. It gives your business associates, friends and family the ability to update their contact information in your address book, provided they also use Addappt. You can also organize contacts into groups and send messages via the app.
Price: The app is free for iOS and Android users.
Features: Fuze is a videoconferencing app that hosts online meetings for all devices and operating systems, including iPads and tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy. It offers high-definition video and crisp audio, and it’s easy to set up and download.
Price: Small-business owners can contact the company for custom pricing.
This app is a game changer for well-connected small-business owners with more than one phone or device.
Features: Pushover sends push messages to any smartphone and organizes messages and notifications from your devices in one common space. You can send 7,500 messages each month and receive an unlimited amount of notifications on Android and iOS devices and desktops.
Price: Pushover offers a free seven-day trial, then requires a one-time $4.99 purchase per platform.
Features: With Slack’s instant messaging platform, you can organize your team’s conversations into separate private or public channels or send a direct message. The app also makes it easy to drag, drop and share images, PDFs and other files right in the chat. It automatically indexes and archives any message, notification or file, and there’s no limit to how many users your business can add.
Price: You can try Slack for free; upgrading to a paid plan adds features and controls. The standard plan costs $6.67 per month for each user and comes with a full archive of your team’s message history, unlimited app integration, guest access and group calls, among other features. The Plus plan costs $12.50 per user, per month, and includes business grade features including single sign-on (SSO) authentication and compliance exports for all messages.
Competitors have tried to knock Skype off its videoconferencing throne, but the app remains effective and popular, with more than 10 million reviews on Google Play.
Features: You can use Skype to video or voice call anyone in the world; get up to 25 people together on a call; transmit video, photos and files of any size; share your computer screen; and send text or voice messages.
Price: The basic version of Skype, which allows calls with up to 25 people, is free. It’s also free to call other Skype users. Rates for calling mobile and landline numbers vary.
For larger businesses, Skype for Business is available via Microsoft Office 365. Prices range from $5 to $12.50 per user, per month. Skype for Business allows you to hold online video meetings and calls with up to 250 people.
Best business apps for time management
Time is your most valuable asset. Here are some of the best time-management apps to help you organize your schedule and stay focused on the most important tasks at hand.
Features: This app automatically tracks time you’ve spent on applications and websites and sends you detailed reports and data based on your activity, giving you an accurate picture of how you spent your day. It works for Mac, PC, Android and Linux.
Price: RescueTime Lite is free. The premium version comes with added features — including alerts, the ability to block distracting websites, more detailed reports and filters — and costs $72 per year, with the first four months free, or $9 per month. You can try the premium version free for 14 days.
Features: If you find you can’t stay focused on your most important tasks — or you’re wasting too much time on Facebook — My Minutes can help you stay grounded by setting goals, such as “Spend only one hour checking email” or “Work out for 30 minutes.”
Price: The desktop version is free, while the app costs $2.99 for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
Features: OmniFocus shows users what’s due and when, reviews completed tasks and syncs between your phone and desktop. It works with iPhones, iPads, Macs and Apple Watch.
Price: The standard iOS version costs $39.99 and the Pro version costs $59.99. The Mac desktop application costs $39.99 for standard and $79.99 for Pro. A 14-day free trial is available. OmniFocus also offers a 30-day return policy when you buy its apps from its website.
Features: TripIt consolidates your travel plans into a single, master itinerary that you can access at any time and on any device, regardless of the website you used to buy your ticket. Users must forward all their travel emails to TripIt, and the app takes it from there. You can also check departure times and delays, find directions to the airport and view weather reports.
Price: TripIt’s basic app is free; TripIt Pro costs $49 per year, and TripIt for Teams starts at $29 per month for up to 10 users. Both plans come with a 30-day free trial. The app works on iPhones, iPads, Android and Windows Phone 7, as well as Macs and PCs.
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Best business apps for mobile payment
Mobile payment apps allow your business to accept payments from customers on the go, and they can track business expenses. Here are our top options.
Features: PayPal reacted to the emergence of Square — more on that product below — by creating an app that lets businesses attach PayPal’s card reader to a tablet or other device and use it as a portable register. The PayPal Here app is ideal for businesses that need to get paid on the go.
Price: The first mobile card reader is free, and additional readers cost $14.99. A chip card reader costs $79.99 and lets you process chip cards and contactless payments such as Apple Pay.
PayPal charges 2.7% per swipe for mobile and in-store payments, 3.5% plus 15 cents for keyed sales, and 2.9% plus 30 cents for online payments and invoicing transactions. Its Payments Pro plan costs $30 per month and comes with added features, including the ability to host and customize your online checkout.
Features: This payment app is a good fit for businesses such as food trucks, beauty salons and retail shops. Its users get a small, portable card reader that attaches to a phone or another mobile device to take fast, convenient payments.
Price: Square’s pricing varies by hardware.
- Its reader for magstripe is free and costs 2.75% for payments made by swipe
- Its reader for contactless and chip payments costs $49 and 2.75% for payments made by tap or dip
- A stand for contactless and chip payments costs $169 and 2.75% for payments made by tap, dip or swipe
- Square Register costs $999 or $49 per month for 24 months, and each transaction costs 2.5% plus 10 cents per tap, dip or swipe
Best business apps for organization
Stay on top of all of your errands and work tasks with these top organization apps.
Features: If your business is looking to improve its communication and collaboration, look no further than Asana. The web-based and mobile app lets you view all tasks and projects and follow progress on the Asana board, and you can share notes, upload files and communicate without having to rely on email. Asana also integrates with Google Drive and Dropbox to attach files, and with Slack for communication to post updates to a Slack messaging channel.
Price: Asana’s basic version is free for up to 15 team members. Its premium version is $9.99 per member, per month, with no team member limit, and it includes advanced features. The app is available to download for free on iOS and Android.
Features: Proven helps you organize your hiring, letting you post all your job listings to multiple job boards with one click on your smartphone. You can also sort through dozens of application responses in just minutes; categorize applicants into “yes,” “no” and “maybe” buckets; and note when you follow up with a candidate.
It’s an especially good fit for companies that have sporadic hiring needs, such as restaurants and retail, or for an entrepreneur who juggles multiple business tasks and needs to save time on hiring.
Price: Proven is free to download on iOS and Android and offers a free 10-day trial. The cost to use the platform depends on the number of jobs you need to post and boards to which you need to post them, as well as whether you opt for premium job boards. Pricing starts at $99 to post for one job; the more jobs you post, the lower your cost per listing.
Features: The Android app Boxmeup organizes and tracks your packages, containers and other bulk storage items. It allows you to print the proper QR labels, which you can scan with your phone to access a list of items in each container at any time. There’s no iPhone app, but you can access Boxmeup’s mobile website using an iPhone.
Price: Boxmeup is free to use.
Features: This is the app for syncing notes across mobile and desktop devices. To-do lists, reminders and notes about ideas are accessible across your devices.
Price: Evernote’s pricing depends on the plan you choose.
- The free version lets users upload up to 60 megabytes of data per month, which you can sync across two devices
- The Plus version costs $34.99 per year and features monthly uploads of 1 gigabyte, and lets you access notes when you’re offline, save emails to the app and access customer support via email
- The Premium version costs $69.99 per year and offers 10 GB of data per month and other features including the ability to search for text in PDFs and Office docs. The Business version costs $12 per user, per month, and comes with added team and administrative features.
Features: Trello is an easy-to-use project management app that tracks your team’s workflow. Each card you create on a Trello board represents an assignment or task. You can add members, comments, attachments, checklists, due dates, and labels and stickers to make the cards as descriptive as possible. Whenever you change a card, Trello notifies each member via email and on mobile devices.
Price: The app is free to use on the web and for iOS and Android devices.
Its Business Class version costs $9.99 per user, per month, and comes with extra features, including integration with apps such as Slack, Dropbox and Evernote. The integration with Slack lets you send Trello cards directly to a Slack channel and associate a Slack channel with a Trello board — or attach notes to your Trello cards automatically.
Its Enterprise version costs $20.83 per user, per month, when billed annually and is intended for large companies managing multiple teams in Trello; the per-user cost drops for groups of more than 300. This version offers dedicated account managers and added security features.
Features: Managers can use KanbanFlow to assign tasks, upload documents and file attachments, schedule due dates and visualize overall workflow. The Kanban board is divided into columns to give you an overview of your current work situation. You can also divide tasks into subtasks to track progress more easily, and filter tasks to view only the ones that are assigned to you or someone on your team.
Price: KanbanFlow’s basic version is free and works on most smartphones, PCs and Macs. A premium version costs $5 per user, per month, and comes with features such as file attachments, revision history and a flow diagram that lets you analyze work history.
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Here are some of the most popular and effective apps on the market.
Features: Expensify makes keeping track of business trip expenses less painful. You can link your credit or debit card to your Expensify account so the app will place charges directly on an expense report. Or, if you prefer, you can take pictures of your receipts with your phone, and Expensify will automatically extract the relevant information. You can then make an expense report yourself, which takes only a few minutes.
Price: Expensify costs $5 per month per active account for team users — startups, nonprofits and small teams — and $9 per month, per active account, for corporate users. The app is available for iOS and Android devices and on all desktops.
Features: Boasting 500 million users and 200,000 businesses, Dropbox is the most popular platform on which to store and share files on the cloud. It’s especially useful for companies that need a reliable way to share information with telecommuters.
Price: Dropbox offers a standard team plan starting at $12.50 per user, per month (when charged yearly), starting at three users. Its advanced team plan costs $20 per user, per month (when charged yearly), starting at three users, and includes unlimited storage space, advanced user management tools and other features. Dropbox offers 30-day free trials and works on all devices and operating systems.
Features: This email marketing tool helps you build and manage your mailing lists and easily create and send newsletters. You can also build and customize email templates and view performance reports about your emails. This information can help you send your customers more relevant emails.
Price: MailChimp‘s pricing depends on the number of subscribers you have. It’s free to send up to 12,000 emails per month if you have up to 2,000 subscribers.
Features: Polaris Office is a reliable alternative to Apple’s iWork that lets you edit, create and sync Microsoft Office files from anywhere on your phone or device, as well as view PDF files.
Price: The basic version is free, while the smart version costs $3.99 per month or $39.99 a year, and the pro version costs $5.99 per month or $59.99 per year. The latest version of the app received a rating of four out of five stars on Google Play and was named 2015’s best app by the site.
Updated Jan. 02, 2018.
NerdWallet staff writer Tony Armstrong contributed to this article.