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The Best Free Apps for Small Business Owners in 2023

Apps for small businesses and small business owners that can increase productivity and efficiency

As a small business owner, you have a lot on your plate. But what if you had dozens of highly qualified assistants with the specialized expertise to help you? And what if those “assistants” could help in all areas of business growth and operations? And what if those “assistants” were highly developed apps that you can have at your fingertips 24/7?

There’s a lot you can entrust to technology to run your business more efficiently, leaving you to devote more time to the more critical senior administrative matters.

By taking advantage of free apps designed for teams and leaders, you can get the benefits of specialists without paying a cent for their services. We’ve conducted independent research and taken recommendations from a variety of technology experts to bring you the leading small business apps to try in 2023.

Best Communication App for Small Businesses

1. Slack

  • Available for Download on: The App Store / Google Play
  • Allows You to:
    • Share project files of all kinds.
    • Connect through messages, audio/video conferences, and other collaborative communication platforms.
    • Automate routine tasks and communications.
    • Connect through thousands of other software systems including Office 365 and Google Drive.
    • Take advantage of extensive work integration, storage, and reporting abilities.
  • Why You’ll Love It: Designed to promote real-time collaboration and effective project management, Slack allows teams to work together on the same files with various levels of access and communicate remotely through group chats, host calls, and online meetings and video conferences. Slack also makes it incredibly easy to send out team notifications and communicate through digital messaging. Small business operation consultant with Thrive Operations Consulting, Melissa Denning calls Slack her “absolute favorite,” praising it for being “very intuitive and easy to keep up with.”

Best Finance App for Small Businesses

2. Wave

  • Available for Download on: The App Store / Google Play
  • Allows You to:
    • Automatically track your income and expenses, keeping precise financial records
    • Conduct secure mobile check deposits and both ACH and email money transfers.
    • Manage all aspects of customer billing
    • Streamline payroll operations
  • Why You’ll Love It: Available as Wave Money on Google Play and Wave: Small Business Software on the App Store, Wave reigns supreme among small business accounting apps. Wave’s extreme versatility is key, containing everything from invoicing software to a financial reporting platform. Unlike most finance apps that are this comprehensive, Wave requires no subscription fee. Business consultant/strategist Rachel Poole particularly recommends Wave for invoicing.

Best Payment Processing App for Small Businesses

3. PayPal

  • Available for Download on: The App Store / Google Play
  • Allows You to:
    • Send and request money for free.
    • Send and accept digital fundraising contributions.
    • Send and accept mobile payments from virtually any geographic location.
    • Get notifications for all incoming and outgoing monetary transactions.
    • Handle transactions involving Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency.
  • Why You’ll Love It: Comprehensive payment apps with extensive consumer credit card and electronic transfer processing capabilities generally require ongoing subscription fees and/or other charges. PayPal offers exceptional functionality for an entirely free and publicly available tool.

Best Marketing App for Small Businesses

4. MailChimp

  • Available for Download on: The App Store / Google Play
  • Allows You to:
    • Send automated consumer email messages at times that are strategized for success.
    • Target market audiences precisely.
    • Optimize your marketing email content with AI and analytics.
    • Synch with a wide range of integrated digital tools.
  • Why You’ll Love It: Like payment processing apps, the vast majority of highly comprehensive marketing apps require a subscription commitment or an agency contract. The basic version of MailChimp, however, is completely free and allows users to send as many as 2,500 emails per month to up to 500 different customer contacts. The app has a full suite of design tools and templates that help you write, arrange, and send newsletters and other email marketing content to promote your products, events, and special sales.

Best Organizational App for Small Businesses

5. Evernote

  • Available for Download on: The App Store / Google Play
  • Allows You to:
    • Easily create notebooks, planners, and organizers to meet your specific needs.
    • Transform web content into notebooks/organizers with a single click.
    • Incorporate digital audio/and video PDFs into your notebooks/organizers.
    • Incorporate printed documents as well as handwritten content and sketches into your notebooks/organizers.
    • Attach notebooks/organizers to deadline alerts by connecting Google Calendar to the app.
  • Why You’ll Love It: In her 2022 article on the best note-taking apps, Berxi contributor Corey Whelan discusses the ways in which Evernote goes far beyond your basic note-taking app to serve as a powerful project management and general organizational tool. She quotes tech authority Harry Guinness, who calls the for-pay version of the app “the ultimate digital notebook.” In addition to her enthusiastic endorsement of Slack, Thrive Operations Consulting’s Melissa Denning says that she “really enjoys” Evernote.

Best Customer Relationship Management (CRM) App

6. Bitrix24

  • Available for Download on: The App Store / Google Play
  • Allows You to:
    • Build long-lasting customer relationships through regular commutation, both automated and personal.
    • Communicate with customers via email, social media, and both audio and video calls from any mobile device.
    • Stay on schedule with task reminders and notifications as well as automatic task time tracking.
    • Share important files with customers instantly and join them in online group meetings.
  • Why You’ll Love It: Although the free version of Bitrix24 is rather basic (limited to just 12 users and 5GB of online storage), business owners can unlock all its professional-grade features for less than $10 per month. At all levels of subscription, Bitrix24 outpaces its closest competitors with features such as multi-channel messaging, automatic call transcription, and accounting software integration.

Best Productivity App for Small Businesses

7. Any.do

  • Available for Download on: The App Store / Google Play
  • Allows You to:
    • Automatically sort and prioritize tasks.
    • Divide larger tasks into multiple subtasks for easier goal setting and progress charting.
    • Attach relevant documents to tasks to aid in their completion.
    • Assign and share tasks with team members and collaborators before using the Any.do platform to track their progress.
    • Syncs across multiple devices.
  • Why You’ll Love It: While examining the best free to-do list apps in another Berxi article, Corey Whelan found that the best list-making app is also a tremendous general productivity app. In fact, major publications such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the USA Today have called it a “must have app.” Brett Maternowski, Director of Corporate Engagement at Synapse, says, “It’s wonderfully simple yet robust. Easily connects to calendars, and the ‘Plan your day’ feature is key. Any.do is affordable considering what it provides. I’ve not used it in a team fashion but as both a personal and professional tool.”

Things to Consider When Evaluating Small Business Apps

Although certain qualities (such as speed and reliability) are universally desirable in a digital app, the best small business app for you will be the one that best meets your specific wants and needs. For this reason, many app companies allow small business owners to try their products before they buy them.

Although many of the apps on this list also provide greatly expanded services at various payment levels, they all offer basic app access for free. You will likely find that the free versions of many apps will meet your wants and needs just fine. However, you will likely need to spend money on some apps in order to get the level of performance and service that you expect.

Regardless of your small business app expectations, the above list is a great place to start!

Final Thoughts

If you’re not making the most of modern technology, you are almost certainly falling behind competing business owners who are. Take advantage of the specific digital apps that are most applicable and beneficial to your company. When you are able to use, or at least try, these apps free of charge, you literally have nothing to lose. Keith Evans, Chief Executive Officer of the digital marketing agency Up Hero, sums up the hunt for small business apps succinctly saying, “Try free ones or free-trials, and if you like them, upgrade to the premium brand.”


Image courtesy of istock.com/scanrail


Last updated on Dec 22, 2022.

Originally published on Dec 22, 2022.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Berxi™ or Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company. This article (subject to change without notice) is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute professional advice.

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