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Our 14 best apps for small business owners 

Need something… anything? Yup, there’s an app for that. There are countless business apps developed to make the lives of business owners easier—apps for accounting, project management, marketing automation, email and calendar management, website development, and secure website hosting, to name a few. So what are the best apps for small business owners? 

Due to the sheer number of apps out there clamoring for your attention, the process of building your business tech stack can quickly become overwhelming. On top of that, everybody seems to have their favorite, and when you start asking for recommendations, you often get conflicting answers.  

As a small business owner, I’ve been there! So, I thought I’d share the 14 apps I rely on to keep our business running efficiently.

Here are our best apps for small business owners:  

  1. Project Management: Asana 
  2. Social Media Management: SocialPilot 
  3. Accounting: Wave 
  4. Scheduling: Calendly 
  5. Email and Document Collaboration: Google Workspace 
  6. Cloud Storage: Dropbox 
  7. Password Protection: Dropbox Passwords 
  8. Website: WordPress 
  9. Organic SEO: SEMrush 
  10. Marketing Automation: ActiveCampaign 
  11. Writing Assistant: Grammarly 
  12. Thesaurus and Word Tools: Word Hippo 
  13. Time Tracking: Clockify 
  14. Bonus Business App Recommendation: Answer the Public 


I was recently interviewed for a USA Today article comparing project management apps. I explained some of the reasons why we use Asana as the hub for all our projects, tasks, and collaboration.  

When you’re coordinating multiple team members on simultaneously running projects, bouncing between various tools (not to mention discussions via email) can quickly become a headache. Asana allows team members to view projects, quickly access documents and links, collaborate with others, view progress, and, most importantly, stay on track. Conversations relating to the project are all happening in one central place, nearly eliminating the need for back-and-forth email communication. You can also search the history of any project to find forgotten details that suddenly become relevant.  

The app has time-saving features such as automation, forms, and templates for recurring tasks. The project manager can get insights into collaborators’ workload and reporting. While the desktop version is the easiest to use and jam-packed with essential features, a complementary mobile app can help you to stay up to date. It can be helpful to get notifications when geographically dispersed team members need quick answers to stay on track.  

Another major benefit is Asana’s client view capabilities. The app’s pricing is based on the number of users, but there’s a caveat to that. We can add as many client users as we want without paying for extra accounts. We pay for seats for our core team members only. This hugely helpful feature makes it easy to communicate with clients and collect feedback within the app.  

And the best feature of all: when you complete a task, you may be surprised by a unicorn or other magical creature streaking across the screen. At least one of us may even be using Asana to manage personal and household tasks 😜.  


Our social media manager, Hillary Lee, loves using SocialPilot to schedule social media posts and access analytics across all platforms. We know all too well that finding the right social media management tool can be a mission. Here’s why Hillary chose SocialPilot: 

  • The ability to schedule the first comment on a post 
  • Competitive pricing 
  • User-friendly interface 
  • The ability to schedule Instagram stories 
  • Helpful analytics 
  • You can manage your social media inboxes from the app 

Is faffing on Facebook sucking your money and your time?

Do you find yourself staring blankly at your screen, wondering what on earth you should post next? 
Get 30 days of Facebook content ideas for service-based businesses! 


Invoicing and bookkeeping have never been easier with Wave, our accounting app of choice that offers simple bookkeeping and payment solutions for small business owners. You can view your business finances, track expenses, and pull basic reports from one easy-to-use dashboard. Bank feeds enable up-to-date numbers and help keep the bookkeeping work to a minimum.  

We started using Wave to accept online payments from clients, and it’s become essential as our business has grown. It’s not the most sophisticated accounting app out there, which is actually part of the appeal for us. We don’t need a lot of complex features and complicated tracking tools, particularly considering most of our clients are invoiced on a monthly basis. We’ll probably outgrow it someday, but we have yet to run into an accounting task that Wave isn’t able to handle. 


The back-and-forth of scheduling meetings is a personal point of frustration. I would often send some time options to people and then forget to block those times on my calendar, so by the time they came back to me, I was double booked. I also have multiple calendars that all need to show up in my availability. Calendar management was practically drowning me before I started using Calendly, and it rapidly became one of my essential business apps. Now, I simply provide my link to allow people to book time with me at their convenience, within my available time slots. I haven’t used the team scheduling features, but they sound awesome. Most importantly, Calendly provides top-notch security with worry-free data protection. 


Email is a must for every business owner, and security is a necessity. Google Workspace offers a variety of small business tools, including Gmail, and makes it simple for small business owners to get started without an IT department. Gmail allows business owners to create custom-branded emails using their preferred domain, giving the business a professional, trustworthy appearance from the first impression. Email aliases for specific functions, such as hello@ or webmaster@, are easy to create and manage. 

We also use Google Drive to collaborate on documents. With Workspace, it’s simple to share documents with your internal team, and you can also invite outside collaborators (such as clients in our case). We have 30 GB of space on our Workspace drive (a free Gmail account gives you 15 GB on Drive). Some people are reluctant to use Google Docs, Sheets, etc. I’ve come to prefer it for some things (mostly the ease of editing a shared document and seeing updates in real time), but I still use Microsoft Office for independent work and tracking changes. 


Secure cloud storage makes a home for your business files of just about any type. Dropbox provides that home, living in the cloud, where you and your team can access the content from anywhere.  

Organization is key when it comes to managing content, especially when collaborating with clients and team members from your computer, phone, or tablet. I find it easier to stay organized on Dropbox, particularly with complex file structures. While its collaboration tools don’t stand up to Google Drive’s, it is better at storing many different types of files and keeping a historical record.  

We also regularly use the request files feature, which makes it easy for clients to upload media assets. Dropbox is rather pricey compared to Google Drive; we’ve found that the Dropbox Family plan is sufficient for our needs and offers some savings compared to the more business-focused plans. 


We’re only on app no. 7 of our list, and already there’s no way we can be expected to remember seven complex passwords for each of them. Enter the Dropbox Passwords browser extension, which suggests strong passwords for your accounts, saves your account credentials, and auto-fills usernames and passwords. It’s available for most browsers, including Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Safari. 

Best of all, Dropbox Passwords is free for customers on Dropbox Basic, Plus, Family, Professional, Standard, Advanced, and Enterprise. If you’re on Dropbox Plus, Professional, Family, Standard, Advanced, or Enterprise, you can store as many logins and payment cards as you need. You can also use Dropbox Passwords on as many devices as you need. 

Throw that dodgy password notebook or napkin away immediately! 


Your website is often the first impression people have of your business; make it count! With 43% of the web built on WordPress, we’re not alone when we say it’s our top pick for running our own site and building sites for clients. (Here are five reasons why we develop on WordPress.

We started out using Squarespace and still occasionally recommend it to clients who have highly specific and limited needs. Squarespace is great at enabling anybody to build a nice-looking and functional website; you can create a professional online presence in a matter of hours. You almost always need to work with a developer to build a WordPress site, so it’s a different commitment level. We recommend WordPress to clients who want a site that will grow with their business and are hoping to drive lots of organic traffic.   


Semrush is a leader in search engine optimization (SEO) applications with a variety of useful tools to help businesses: 

  • Discover the best keywords 
  • Analyze competitors 

We’ve also found their support proactive, informative, and open to feedback to make the tool even better.  

As a small business, you may be able to get away with the limitations of a free Semrush plan. As an agency, we need a paid plan, which starts on the pricy end of the SEO app spectrum at $129.95 per month (or $108.33 /mo with annual billing).  

Not sure what this SEO business is all about? 

Start with these helpful resources: 
What is SEO marketing? 
Is SEO worth it for small businesses? 
SEO marketing tactics that get results 
– Free eBook: 5 things your small business can do right now to improve SEO 


WordPress plugin Yoast SEO also deserves a mention in the SEO section. Even the free version of Yoast provides simple, user-friendly tools to improve your organic rankings. Yoast does an on-the-spot analysis of each page on your website and gives you suggestions to improve search-friendliness based on your chosen target keyword or phrase. It takes the guesswork out of everyday optimization—especially blogging.   


Marketing automation keeps you in communication with leads and customers without a whole lot of manual work. There are a bunch of marketing automation tools out there. We’ve tested many of them (including everybody’s favorite orange 800-pound gorilla) and come to the conclusion that ActiveCampaign is our favorite. We recommend it to all clients who need a marketing platform and use it ourselves. 

We exclusively use ActiveCampaign to manage email, contact lists, and marketing automation for our clients. 

With ActiveCampaign, you can: 

You may also be interested in: ActiveCampaign vs HubSpot: Which is best for your email marketing? 


Even as a writer, I’m not immune to typos and tired eyes. I also often do my best proofreading after hitting sned 😜. But when I see an error in someone else’s writing, I’m instantly turned off, and I’m sure many of my fellow word nerds feel the same.  

Grammarly is a popular writing assistant tool that is there to catch your gremlins in email, Google Docs, social media apps, and pretty much anywhere you do your typing.  

You can use Grammarly to: 

  • Catch grammar and spelling mistakes 
  • Improve sentence structure, word choice, tone, and clarity 
  • Check for plagiarism 
  • Set goals for your writing based on audience, formality, and tone 
  • Learn from your common mistakes 

CAVEAT: Proceed with caution! Don’t blindly accept every Grammarly suggestion—you’re the writer, and you know what you’re trying to convey to whom and how. 


Sure, you can use or when you’re looking to spice up your synonyms. But do either of those sites greet you with a cute pink hippo? Nope, didn’t think so. 

I use Word Hippo for its extensive database of synonyms, antonyms, definitions, and translations. The tool has a straightforward interface, making it easy to navigate and use without unnecessary clutter. And the pink hippo makes me happy.  


What you don’t measure, you can’t manage. Clockify is a simple time tracker and timesheet app that lets you track work hours across projects. Although we don’t charge our clients by the hour, using time-tracking software allows us to evaluate the profitability of our projects and identify if something is going out of scope. We also use the data from Clockify to help us predict how long a project will take so we can allocate resources and quote clients accordingly.  


If I end up making a midlife career change, I want a job at Answer the Public (now owned by NP Digital). It is just plain cool, and if you’ve never played with it I highly recommend setting aside some time to do so.  

Answer the Public is a search research tool that provides valuable, raw search insights directly from the searchers themselves. There are over 8.5 billion Google searches every day. You can tap into these searches to find out what people are really looking for on a topic-by-topic basis. You can use the insights to develop products or services, target blog posts, view trends, interpret your own organic search data, or just be nosy.  

People are far more honest with search engines than they are on social media, surveys, and maybe even among their own families. Typing a query into Google is a little like entering a private confessional. Analyzing that data in the aggregate offers intensely deep insights into the collective psyche of the developed world. Really, you have to try it just for the stunning data visualizations. Have fun. 

What did you think of our list of best apps for small business owners? 

We’re all for working smarter, not harder, and we hope that our list of business apps can help you do just that! Are there any we didn’t mention that YOU can’t live without?  

Are you looking for assistance building a marketing tech stack that works for your business?  

We offer one-time strategy engagements and ongoing coaching to help you fine-tune your marketing operations. Contact us to learn more. 

You may also be interested in: 8 Hard Truths About Running a Small Business 

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