The best mobile apps for SMBs

Small and medium-sized business owners have a lot to do, often with limited resources and technology support, so they should be prepared to evaluate software options on their own.

These business-focused software products and tools can increase productivity and reduce management overhead. Small business owners and workers may need to get things done on the go, so it’s good that there’s usually a mobile version of these productivity apps.

What types of mobile apps can help SMBs?

These apps are growing in number and scope, so SMB owners and staff need to keep up to date with the latest apps that can improve their workflows and processes. These business applications and software fall into the following five major categories:

The mobile component makes these apps very powerful, especially for a small workforce that may need to communicate information quickly. Small business owners and workers need to find the apps that can bring value to their team and learn how each stacks up in the market.

These marketplaces include various software options and licensing models, but SMBs should focus on those that suit the size of their organization. Additionally, SMBs should consider options with strong mobile apps to meet the demands of working from anywhere.

Accounting and finance

All organizations need to manage resources and expenses – even charities and nonprofits – so they will need accounting software to meet those needs. There are many products on the market, but FreshBooks, QuickBooks Online, and Wave are well suited for SMBs (Figure 1).

Figure 1

Several popular mobile apps focus on point-of-sale capabilities. These applications can stand alone and integrate with a larger financial software package. These include Venmo, Square, PayPal, Google Pay, and Apple Pay.

Project management and organization

Many products fall into the category of project management, covering complex tasks that SMBs may need to perform. These tasks include project planning, scheduling, team management, daily plans, note organizers and more (Figure 2).

A chart comparing three vendors in the SMB project management software market
Figure 2

Asana and Trello are heavier management tools compared to Evernote, which is more of a documentation tool that includes some project management components. Asana and Trello have fundamentally different ways of working. Each product has free trial versions, so organizations can review them before locking in any purchases. Additionally, Evernote pricing lists the price per month rather than dollars per user per month, so organizations should contact the vendor to verify pricing. All prices shown are discounted on an annual payment basis.

Collaborative software

After years of organizations deeming it useful but not necessarily essential, collaboration software has a new life with the boom in remote work that largely began with the COVID-19 pandemic. As many organizations return to the office, it’s still useful to allow workers to log in remotely. This software can help remote workers, multi-office workers, mobile workers, and many other use cases.

The top three options SMBs should consider for collaboration are Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom. These platforms offer, among other features, video conferencing, group meetings, private messaging and a mobile application.

The pricing of these offers is as follows for SMEs:

  • Soft
    • Three plans ranging from free to $12.50 per user, per month
    • Features vary widely between plans, including 24/7 support and single sign-on
  • Teams
    • Four plans: Free, Essentials, Microsoft 365 Business Basic, and Microsoft 365 Business Standard. Prices range from free to $12.50 per user, per month
    • Improved features with each more expensive licensing model, including more group meeting hours per month and recorded meetings
  • Zoom
    • Four plans ranging from free to $25 per user, per month
    • Escalation features of each plan, including higher maximum meeting participants and more cloud storage

The features listed above may not be present in all versions of the product. Additionally, many project management tools have basic collaboration features. A separate license can be redundant with enough collaboration functionality in a different software bundle.

Productivity Services

The two main productivity app services are Microsoft 365 productivity apps and Google Workspace.

Offline apps require offline storage and most providers offer a small amount as part of a free suite and more capacity for a fee. Additionally, offline storage is advantageous for desktop applications to be backed up (Figure 3).

A table comparing Microsoft and Google productivity services for small businesses
picture 3

For reference, not all apps are equally feature-rich. For example, Google Tables is far behind the functionality of Microsoft Access. On the other hand, the Business Basic plan for Microsoft does not include desktop versions of Office apps – only mobile and web apps.

Moreover, these pricing plans are extremely complex when it comes to the variation of features and available bundles.

Free releases. Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace have free versions, which may be sufficient for very small businesses with just a few employees.

  • Microsoft 365. To access free Microsoft 365 Apps, go to and create a Microsoft account or sign in to an existing account. The free versions of these apps are all online and mobile, and while they include OneDrive storage, some apps like OneNote are missing and others, like Excel, have limited functionality.
  • Google Workspace. Users need to register or login to a Gmail account and click on the labeled dot matrix Google Apps by the connection photo at the top. Workspace apps will then appear.

customer relationship management software

CRM systems are typically marketed to enterprise-wide businesses, but there are some options for SMBs. These products can be very useful for SMEs to help customers with limited resources.

Small business owners and employees can coordinate information for the sales team, including customer profiles, contact information, call tracking, and transaction tracking. Salesforce, Zoho One, and Zendesk are popular enterprise CRM options that can be scaled down to meet SMB requirements. However, a smaller-scale CRM system might be better suited to SMBs (Figure 4).

A Comparison of Customer Relationship Management Software for SMBs to Consider
Figure 4

These CRM systems could also eliminate the need to purchase separate applications and services such as finance, collaboration, and project management.

Casey J. Nelson