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The best free small business software in 2024

By Toby Peterson · February 14, 2024
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Whether you find them on basic cable or on your parents' Facebook timelines, the top-rated personal finance gurus all agree: free is good. Especially if you're launching a new business venture. To get your company off the ground, you'll need to make every inch of your runway count, which is why free business software can be an attractive—even necessary—option.

It's fair to be worried about quality. Free apps for business often mean undeletable watermarks that ruin your branding or unreliable functionality that can toss a wrench into your workflows at any moment. But if you know which apps to use and how to use them, free doesn't have to mean cut-rate. 

In fact, the right free small business app can give you the power to pull off a successful launch, and then scale up as your margins allow you to grow. Or, when the time's right, you can simply jump ship to another platform that makes more sense for your expanding business needs. 

To do that, you'll first need a solid start that won't bust your bottom line. Here's a roundup of the best free small business software. Since every business has different needs, I'll introduce you to categories of apps you should consider when putting together your small business tech stack, suggest apps along the way, and link you to more top apps within that category.

The best free software for small businesses

  • Free CRM software

  • Free email marketing services

  • Free website builders

  • Free project management software

  • Free survey tools and form builders

  • Free graphic design software

  • Free keyword research tools

  • Free timesheet software

  • Free invoicing software

How we evaluate and test apps

Our best apps roundups are written by humans who've spent much of their careers using, testing, and writing about software. Unless explicitly stated, we spend dozens of hours researching and testing apps, using each app as it's intended to be used and evaluating it against the criteria we set for the category. We're never paid for placement in our articles from any app or for links to any site—we value the trust readers put in us to offer authentic evaluations of the categories and apps we review. For more details on our process, read the full rundown of how we select apps to feature on the Zapier blog.

The best free software for small businesses at a glance 

Category

Best for

EngageBay

Free CRM software

Managing up to 250 unique leads with sales, marketing, chat, and customer service features for free

MailerLite

Free email marketing services

Delivering dynamic, text- and image-rich content to inboxes

Wix

Free website builders

Leveraging AI to write website copy

Trello

Free project management software

Visualizing project workflows 

Google Forms

Free survey tools and form builders

Building forms using a robust feature set 

Canva

Free graphic design and photo editing software

Creating AI-generated images using text—and then using them in your designs

Moz Keyword Explorer

Free keyword research tools

Quickly identifying priority keywords worth chasing

Toggl Track

Free timesheet software

Tracking time from multiple devices, including browser, desktop, mobile app, or within 100+ third-party apps

Wave

Free invoicing software

Customizing invoice designs 

Free CRM software like EngageBay

EngageBay, our pick for the best free lead generation software.

Any successful business is going to need to nurture its client relationships. Some of those relationships, if you haven't noticed, can be high-maintenance. You have to update prospects, coordinate your outreach, manage sales, provide customer support—the list goes on. To help you keep all those workflows humming, you need a CRM.

Don't be fooled into thinking that the high demands of customer relationship management mean high costs, though. EngageBay, for example, gives you the power to manage up to 250 contacts at no cost. Its free tier also includes a ton of useful features like a visual sales pipeline, a full marketing suite, a customer service suite, and live chat.

You can even use Zapier to connect EngageBay with your other apps to automate your business-critical workflows. Learn more about how to automate EngageBay, or get started with one of these workflows.

Add new EngageBay Marketing contacts to Google Sheets as rows

Add new EngageBay Marketing contacts to Google Sheets as rows
  • EngageBay Marketing logo
  • Google Sheets logo
EngageBay Marketing + Google Sheets

Add new EngageBay contacts from Typeform form

Add new EngageBay contacts from Typeform form
  • Typeform logo
  • EngageBay Marketing logo
Typeform + EngageBay Marketing

To get started with a Zap template—what we call our pre-made workflows—just click on the button. It only takes a few minutes to set up. You can read more about setting up Zaps here.

For more options, check out this list of the best free CRM software.

Once you've picked your free CRM software, use CRM automation to effortlessly manage leads and contacts, streamline your marketing campaigns, and support internal communications.

Free email marketing services like MailerLite

MailerLite, our pick for the best free email marketing services.

You won't have many customers to manage if you can't get your message across to your prospects. No need for billboards or skywriting—or even a fancy pay-per-click marketing platform. Instead, you can start with a free email service like MailerLite. Its free options include pre-designed content blocks that deliver dynamic, text- and image-rich content to your leads' inboxes. You can even include product details, embedded videos, blog posts, and RSS feeds—all for free.

MailerLite also integrates with Zapier, making it easy to automate your email workflows. Learn more about how to automate MailerLite, or kickstart your workflow with one of these Zap templates. 

Create/update MailerLite subscribers from new Squarespace form submissions

Create/update MailerLite subscribers from new Squarespace form submissions
  • Squarespace logo
  • MailerLite Classic logo
Squarespace + MailerLite Classic

Create or update MailerLite subscribers from new Webflow form submissions

Create or update MailerLite subscribers from new Webflow form submissions
  • Webflow logo
  • MailerLite logo
Webflow + MailerLite

Beyond MailerLite, here are Zapier's other picks for the best free email marketing apps

No matter which app you choose, automating your email marketing helps ensure the right message is always getting to the right person at the right time, taking care of the important but repetitive work of managing subscriptions, segmenting subscribers, personalizing messages, and re-engaging cold leads. 

Free website builders like Wix

Wix, our pick for the best free website builder.

Once you've attracted attention with your dazzling email marketing, you'll need a place to send all that traffic. You can try to cut corners with that friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend who builds websites on the side until their pro League of Legends career takes off. Or you can opt for a more reliable, still affordable option by going with a website building platform. 

These apps, even in their free tiers, are customizable and easy to use—no coding required—allowing you to build a dynamic web presence that won't get buried in search engine results.

Take Wix as an example. It has an intuitive, drag-and-drop interface that allows you to build a site using one of over 300 template designs that best match your business. Include a blog, live chat, forms, or even an online store. You'll also get predictive text when building your pages, as well as marketing integrations, SEO ranking assistance, and more—all for free.   

Learn more about how to automate Wix with Zapier, or get started with one of these pre-made workflows.

Add or update Mailchimp subscribers when a new Wix Form is submitted

Add or update Mailchimp subscribers when a new Wix Form is submitted
  • Wix logo
  • Mailchimp logo
Wix + Mailchimp

Send private channel messages in Slack for new forms in Wix

Send private channel messages in Slack for new forms in Wix
  • Wix logo
  • Slack logo
Wix + Slack

And to explore your options, here are more of the best free website builders.

Free project management software like Trello

Trello, our pick for the best free project management software.

When looking at free software for small businesses, you need to think about your internal operations, too. For all your core processes, it's about organized projects that are planned and executed with maximum efficiency. 

To help pull that off, you can use a project management tool. Once again, free is a price point that provides you with more functionality than you might expect. An app like Trello offers a free tier that gives you up to ten Kanban boards per workspace, countless template options, and unlimited users, so you can keep using it even as your team grows.

Connect Trello to Zapier to streamline your project management workflows even more. Learn more about how to automate Trello, or use one of these workflows to get started. 

Create Trello cards from new Google Forms responses

Create Trello cards from new Google Forms responses
  • Google Forms logo
  • Trello logo
Google Forms + Trello

Create Trello cards from new rows on Google Sheets

Create Trello cards from new rows on Google Sheets
  • Google Sheets logo
  • Trello logo
Google Sheets + Trello

If Trello isn't right for you, check out Zapier's picks for the best free project management software.

Free survey tools and form builders like Google Forms

Google Forms, our pick for the best free survey tools and form builders.

To make your business more relevant to current and prospective customers, you need to know what they want in the first place—or, at the very least, who they are. Once you have a budget, you can invest in complex market research surveys and customer feedback software. Until then, free survey tools and form builders will get the job done. These powerful platforms can help you register subscribers, segment audiences, collect lead data, and much more—again, for free.

Google Forms is unique in that it's all free. If you have a Google account, you can use all its features, including unlimited forms, questions, and submissions—not to mention collaboration options, customizable templates, and visualized data in the form of lists, charts, and graphs. 

Learn more about how to automate Google Forms with Zapier. These pre-made workflows are also a good place to start. 

Send new Google Forms responses to Notion databases

Send new Google Forms responses to Notion databases
  • Google Forms logo
  • Notion logo
Google Forms + Notion

Share Google Forms responses in a Slack channel

Share Google Forms responses in a Slack channel
  • Google Forms logo
  • Slack logo
Google Forms + Slack

And here are your other options for the best survey tools and form builders.

Once you've picked your app, gathering form responses is one thing—doing something about it is another. Follow up with respondents faster, add customers to your CRM, and track user feedback with automation. 

Free graphic design and photo editing software like Canva

Canva, our pick for the best free graphic design and photo editing software.

You're likely already thinking about (or using) social media as a way to keep in touch and nurture customer relationships. More than just collecting likes and hearts, the right social media presence can boost customer engagement and drive traffic to your door. 

That kind of dynamic profile doesn't just happen, though. It takes creative vision and savvy planning. One thing it doesn't have to take: money. As you're getting started, take inspiration from others who've been able to make the most of social media without a budget.    

The main thing that can drain your budget is visuals. But there are plenty of apps that help you get brand-aligned graphics for free. Canva, for example, is a powerful design tool that gives you the power to create brand visuals for free. Craft logos, website banners, profile pics, and headers to create a consistent and eye-catching brand identity. It also offers a limited selection of high-quality free stock photos. If those aren't cutting it, though, consider taking advantage of free stock photo sites

If Canva doesn't fit the bill, here's Zapier's list of the best Canva alternatives and the best free graphic design software. Or, if you have original images that you want to tweak and share instead, check out this list of the best free photo editors.

Then, equipped with a library of beautifully designed graphics, use automation to share your content across social media, keep your followers in the loop, and track your profile performance.  

Free keyword research tools like Moz Keyword Explorer

Moz Keyword Explorer, our pick for the best free keyword research tool.

Another way to make sure your business is doing all it can to attract leads is keyword research. Finding out exactly how your prospects are searching for you (or your competitors) will help you make the most of your search engine ranking and keep you off that dreaded second page of results.

There are a number of free keyword research tools that can take that work off your plate. Moz Keyword Explorer is one, providing you with easy-to-grasp metrics that will help you fine-tune your web presence for maximum exposure. Generate a priority score that lets you know whether or not a keyword is worth including in your content. You'll also get a keyword gap feature that shows you all the keywords your competitors rank for that you don't.

For more options, check out the best free keyword research tools

Free timesheet software like Toggl Track

Toggl Track, our pick for the best free timesheet software.

If you're employing others, timesheet apps are an indispensable tool for equitable resource allocation, transparent invoicing, budgeting, and oversight. To track time effectively, however, you need user-friendly software that integrates into your workflows. 

Take Toggl Track. For the free plan, you get quite a few premium perks that other free plans tend to exclude, like a Pomodoro timer, idle time detection, automated time tracking triggers, team access level management, and exportable reports. Users can also track their time on the go from a browser, desktop, mobile app, or within over 100 third-party applications via browser extensions—or just by typing it into the timesheet or timer module manually, the way our ancestors did. Toggl doesn't give it all away, though. You'll have to pay if you want to change billable rates, save reports, use pre-populated project templates, and—notably—divide projects into tasks.

Connect Toggl Track with Zapier to streamline your timesheet workflows even more. Here are a few Zap templates to get you started. 

Create new Toggl Track entries for every new Google Calendar event start

Create new Toggl Track entries for every new Google Calendar event start
  • Google Calendar logo
  • Toggl Track logo
Google Calendar + Toggl Track

Create new Toggl Track projects from new rows in Google Sheets

Create new Toggl Track projects from new rows in Google Sheets
  • Google Sheets logo
  • Toggl Track logo
Google Sheets + Toggl Track

And if you're looking for more options, here are Zapier's picks for the best free timesheet software.

Free invoicing software like Wave

Wave, our pick for the best free invoicing software.

At the end of the day, you need to get paid for the goods and services you provide—hence the whole "business" aspect of launching a business. You can bring that money in the door faster, and with less effort, by using invoicing software.

Wave, for instance, saves you from manual accounting chores by tracking your expenses, relaying invoices, generating reports, and even reconciling accounts. Its free tier also handles payroll and tax filing, giving you all the benefits of an in-house accountant without any of the costs (and you also won't need to feed them at the holiday office party). 

Plus, you can connect Wave to Zapier, so you can automate even more of your invoicing workflows. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Create Wave customers from new Pipedrive deals

Create Wave customers from new Pipedrive deals
  • Pipedrive logo
  • Wave logo
Pipedrive + Wave

Create Wave customers from new changes to properties of HubSpot contacts

Create Wave customers from new changes to properties of HubSpot contacts
  • HubSpot logo
  • Wave logo
HubSpot + Wave

If you decide Wave isn't a good fit, here are your other choices for the best free invoicing software.

Once you've made your pick, you can make your free invoicing app even more dynamic by automating your payment processes. Manage contacts, log invoices, and stay on top of paydays effortlessly simply by activating a few well-placed integrations.

Connect your free small business apps with automation

The best free apps for small business owners can be a boost on their own. But to really move the needle, your apps need to talk to each other.

By connecting your software and automating your workflows, you'll have smoother operations early on and more opportunities for growth. And as your business grows, you'll be able to make more of an investment in automation to reap an even higher ROI. 

For now, though, it's free to get started with Zapier.

Zapier is a no-code automation tool that lets you connect your apps into automated workflows, so that every person and every business can move forward at growth speed. Learn more about how it works.

Related reading:

  • When is it time to start paying for software?

  • How to start a business with no money: 22 low-cost business ideas

  • Free business plan template—and how to write your own

  • Free small business budget templates

This article was originally published in February 2023. The most recent update, with contributions from Jessica Lau, was in February 2024.

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