It’s great to be able to automate and take care of admin tasks in your small business using software and apps, but how much does small business software cost? And is it possible to get it all for free?
Based on the business software listed in Small Business Software Checklist: What do you really need?,- we’ve looked up costs and prices against each type of software (plus a couple of extras we wanted to include) to build up a budget guideline for small business owners. We’ve also listed free options for small business software and apps where we found those too.
We’re not necessarily recommending all the software we’ve listed, but we’re using the most well known (and well known to us) providers of each type of software to build up a picture of price ranges. For some of the software listed there are MANY alternatives, but in order to keep this article focused on costs and pricing, we’ve stuck to a balanced, but brief list of each software type.
Free small business software
There are often free versions of business software, but it’s always important to check that the free version does all you need it to do. Also bear in mind there’s the ‘cost’ of time spent doing the functions you don’t get for ‘free’ you need to consider too.
The restrictions on free small business software typically relate to functions, how many people can use it, or ‘volume’ related limits. Where there is a free version of software we’ll show that, but also include the ‘range’ of the paid for versions of the same software.
Much as we all get excited by ‘free stuff’, when it comes to software sometimes you do get what you pay for (or not) and if it’s helping you make more money or be more efficient it could pay to have more functions/users/whatever else.
How to compare small business software prices
Some software is sold at one price for unlimited users, or unlimited ‘volumes’, while others have more complex (sometimes confusing!) pricing structures based on various parameters.
To save our sanity, in the case of the more complex pricing, we’ll show a ‘range’ you could pay as a small business to use the software in question. When it comes to user numbers we’ve picked out 1 user, 5 users and 20 users. But this does highlight why it might be attractive to choose a ‘one payment fits all’ software option over another that is more ‘complicated’ when you’re making comparisons and decisions over what to buy, as you might find what you pay changes as your business grows, which makes budgeting harder.
Note: All prices were correct as displayed on the providers websites as per January 2018, prices are in £ if sold in that currency, or shown as the currency sold in.
The HUGE spreadsheet of small business software prices (if you want all the details)
We’re going to include some prices in the article to give you an outline of costs, but if you want ‘all the numbers’ you can access our research spreadsheet here…
In this article we’ll be giving you the highlights – the ‘free’, then the ‘least’ you’d pay and also the ‘most’ you’d pay for each of the types of software we looked up.
If you want ALL the details then we’ve made the spreadsheet shareable so you can see all our workings out.
How much does small business software cost? BASICS
There is a free gmail but you’ll need to have a @gmail address instead of a @yourbusinessname.com address, so we’re saying that for business you’ll want to use G Suite or Outloook (part of Office365).
Documents and Spreadsheets
We looked at G Suite (from Google) or Office365 (from Microsoft). You can share your Google docs and sheets online which makes them great for teams and ‘mobile’ working. Because we always think ‘cloud based’ first we’ve looked at the subscription version of Office365 not one you ‘install’ on your laptop or PC.
We looked at WordPress for websites (not least as it’s free, but it’s our pick too). We also looked at Wix and Squarespace for alternative small business website builders.
As part of the cost of having a website we compared hosting from Siteground, WP Engine and Fasthosts.
We compared HSBC, Natwest and Metro bank for small business accounts.
Canva was our pick here for small business software that helps you ‘look good’.
The very least you can spend on small business software basics
|Email and docs and spreadsheets from G Suite (1 user)||£3.30||£39.60|
|Web hosting from Fasthosts||£2.50||£30|
|Banking||All banks offered a free option - either for first 18 months or with a minimum balance|
By contrast, here’s the MOST you could spend on small business software basics from our list…
|Total||$538||$6456||(in £ with £1:$1.37 exchange rate that’s £393/month or £4,716/year)|
|Email and docs and spreadsheets business premium Office365 (20 users)||$250||$3000|
|Web hosting from WP Engine||$29||$348|
|Canva for work (20 users)||$259||$3108|
The Essentials of Small Business Software
Adding to the basics of business software:
- Documents and spreadsheets
- Online banking
- Graphic design
Here’s what we’ve listed as ESSENTIALS to help you take care of sales and marketing admin in your small business.
So that you can send emails out to ‘lists’ of prospects, customers and other groups of contacts, instead of one at time with a simple email account.
On our list of email systems to send out to lists of contacts we included:
- Constant Contact
- Active Campaign
- Campaign Monitor
To manage your time online, and know when you can make those important sales calls and appointments we compared Google Calendar and Outlook. Not only are these calendars online but you can ‘share’ them with your team too, so everyone can see when everyone else is available for sales and marketing appointments and tasks.
Keeping your business numbers up to date and having all your invoices, bank balances and Profit and Loss to hand is very helpful as a business owner. We looked at 4 different ‘cloud’ (hosted online) accounting software providers for small business owners.
Simple Analytics (for your website)
Measuring who visits your website, when, how, from where and what they look at really helps you find out what your prospects and customers are most interested in. We’ve picked out Google Analytics for this job.
The very LEAST you can spend on small business software essentials
|Basics + Essentials||Running TOTAL||£15.80||£189.60|
|Email System||Mailchimp (up to 2000 names)||Free|
|Online Calendar||Google Calendar part of G Suite (1 user)||£3.30||£39.60||Already accounted for with documents and spreadsheets in BASICS for running total|
|Accounting Software||Xero (starter)||£10||£120|
|Simple Analytics||Google Analytics||FREE|
By comparison here’s the MOST you could spend on small business software essentials from our list
|Basics + Essentials||Running TOTAL||£769||£9228|
|Email System||Constant Contact (50,000 emails)||£215||£2580|
|Online Calendar||Google Calendar part of G Suite (20 users)||£132||£1584|
|Accounting Software||FreeAgent (Limited company)||£29||£348|
|Simple Analytics||Google Analytics||FREE|
Ideal Small Business Software Costs
Adding to the basics of small business software:
- Docs and spreadsheets
- Online banking
- Graphic design
AND adding to the Essentials of small business software
- Email system
- Online calendar
- Accounting Software
- Simple Analytics
Here’s what we’ve listed as IDEAL software to help you take care of sales and marketing admin in your small business.
Customer Relationship Management software allows you to manage suppliers, prospects and customers so you can send them relevant emails, take notes on conversations and see actions they’ve taken (and what they’ve bought). It’s how you can send out really tailored emails and offers, and have an always up to date database of contacts your whole team can access. We compared a lot of small business CRMs:
Project Management or Workflow
To track your projects, customer delivery, and see what ‘tasks’ need to get done, having a project management or workflow software or system can make a big difference in getting it all done. We compared the costs of four:
There’s a lot more functionality you can add to your small business website that will automate admin and help you work better. Having forms to capture details of prospects is one we’ve included, the other is building landing pages (a one web page that has one offer).
For forms we looked up:
- Gravity forms
And for landing pages we compared:
- Thrive Architect
If there’s more than just you in your business having one place online where all messages, comments, ‘conversations’ and ideas are recorded and organised saves a lot of time searching through your email inbox. We included these in our costings:
If you’re already using Facebook or Google Ads, or are planning to in the future having a way to ‘retarget’ (remarket) to people who have visited your website helps remind prospects of your business and offers. We’ve looked at these 2 key pieces of code:
- Facebook pixel
- GoogleAds conversion tag
Online Appointment Booking System
Not having to spend time and admin resources on the back and forth of booking and confirming calls and meeting appointments is a big automation win for your business. The software and apps we looked at that handle this are:
Proposal or Quote Builder System
Having well designed and well thought out proposals or quotes you can send quickly after a call or meeting can make a big difference to your conversion rates. Here’s the options we included:
- Quote Roller
- Better proposals
Offering other ways to get paid can increase sales conversion rates and how quickly you get paid – all helping with cash flow and business results. We looked at the costs of using:
Accounting Software Add-ons
There are ‘optional extras’ that can make a big admin difference if you use them with your accounting software to save time and streamline processes. Two most business will benefit from are:
Receipts (for expenses)
- Receipt Bank
- Xero Payroll
Enhanced website analytics
To make more sense and track closely the behaviour of your website visitors to better understand prospects and customers, there are software applications that can give enhanced insights. We considered:
Sometimes you just need something that links your disconnected online software together. You can employ a developer to link different software together, or you can subscribe to an integration software service. Two good pay per month options are:
Sales Pipeline Management
Knowing what stages your prospects are at, and seeing what proposals are out and which opportunities need following up gives you full visibility of your sales pipeline. Software that allows you track this includes:
The very LEAST you can spend on IDEAL small business software
|Basics + Essentials + Ideal||Running Total||£60.77||£794.24|
|Project Management or Workflow||Asana/Teamwork||Free|
|Landing Pages||leadpages||$25||$300||(in £ with £1:$1.37 - £18.25/month £219/year)|
|Remarketing||Facebook pixel/Google conversion tag||Free|
|Online Appointment Booking System||Acuity/Calendly||Free|
|Proposal or Quote Builder System||QuoteRoller||$19||$228||(in £ with £1:$1.37 - £13.87/month, £166.44/year)|
|Payment Processing||PayPal/GoCardless/Stripe||Free (set up)|
|Receipts (for expenses)||Expensify (1 user)||£4||£48|
|Enhanced Website Analytics||Hubspot||Free|
|Sales Pipeline Management||Pipedrive||$10||$120||(in £ with £1:$1.13 £8.85/month, £106.20/year)|
Here’s the MOST you could spend as a small business on IDEAL software
|Basics + Essentials + Ideal||Running Total||£3605.65||£43367.80|
|CRM||Salesforce Lightning Professional (20 users)||£1200||£14400|
|Project Management or Workflow||included with Salesforce (in £ with £1:$1.37 - £18.25/month £219/year)|
|Website Forms||Jotform||$19||$228||(in £ with £1:$1.37 - £13.87/month, £166.44/year)|
|Landing Pages||ClickFunnels||$97||$1164||(in £ with £1:$1.37 - £70.80/month £849.60/year)|
|Team Comms||Monday (25 users)||£166||£1992|
|Remarketing||Facebook pixel/Google conversion tag||Free|
|Online Appointment Booking System||Calendly (20 users)||$160||$1920||(in £ with £1:$1.37 - £116.79/month, £1401.48/year)|
|Proposal or Quote Builder System||QuoteRoller (20 users)||$780||$9360||(in £ with £1:$1.37 - £569.34/month, £6832.08/year)|
|Payment Processing||SagePay (set up)||£20.90||£250.80|
|Receipts (for expenses)||Expensify (20 users)||£80||£960|
|Payroll||Xero (20 employees)||£40||£480|
|Enhanced Website Analytics||Kissmetrics||$500||$6000||(in £ with £1:$1.37 - £373.13/month, £4477.56/year)|
|Integration Software||Workato||$249||$2988||(in £ with £1:$1.37 - £185.82/month, £2230.20/year)|
|Sales Pipeline Management||included with Salesforce|
Answering the question: “How much does small business software cost?”
With a range from as little as £5.80 a month for the basics to more than £43k for a year for ‘everything’, it’s not a straightforward answer to the question “How much should I spend on small business software?”.
If you want a clearer idea of what you might pay for your business do refer to the HUGE spreadsheet of small business software costs here… We’ve priced for 1, 5 and 20 users where the charges work like that, and for different ‘options’ where that’s on offer.
Also remember that YOUR business may not need ALL the software we’ve listed here.
Always start with your business processes and map out what you need to get done THEN see if there’s software that can help you do that better, faster, more effectively, smarter, or simply make that function look good. And consider how the software you’re looking at works together because it can make sense to choose on compatibility over features if it saves integration issues, or re-keying and doubling of data.
And if you’re interested in what small business software we use at Connectably, you can read that list over here…