Building an information technology (IT) infrastructure can be incredibly complex and expensive for new and growing businesses. Limited resources, expertise, and time often constrains how much small and midsize businesses (SMBs) are able to accomplish. Thankfully, software companies have taken into account this demographic by building out tools that are either specifically designed for SMBs or can be configured to support more modest needs. Whether we're discussing email marketing or accounting tools, there's a service that can meet your needs regardless of your company's economic and technological thresholds.
In this article, we'll list 20 of the best cloud services for SMBs, covering topics from project management (PM) and accounting to customer relationship management (CRM) and data backup. Keep in mind that the tools listed here might not be the best in their respective classes, but they are the ones best suited for the small and midsize markets. If you absolutely can't afford to spend a cent on your IT infrastructure, we've also compiled a great list of free Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based tools.
Communications and Commerce-based Tools
1. Asana CollaborationYour company is only as good as its employees' ability to work together to accomplish tasks. Thankfully, collaboration services such as Asana make teamwork easy and more fun. Asana's free version supports up to 15 team members, which is perfect for mom-and-pop shops that don't need more advanced features. It's built on HTML5 so it features rich design functionality, and easy and attractive task management.
2. Citrix GrasshopperFor many years, Voice over IP (VoIP) solutions were built for large, hulking companies only. But with tools such as Citrix Grasshopper, you'll be able to quickly and easily set up your VoIP tool and gain access to basic phone systems features such as call routing, faxing, and voicemail. While it doesn't have more advanced features such as call recording, a unified communications application, and dial-in conferencing at the lowest price levels, you'll still be able to take advantage of higher call quality and call center features not typically associated with your local telco.
3. ClickMeeting VideoconferencingIf you're looking for an easy-to-use videoconferencing tool, ClickMeeting is among the best on the market. It offers a free 30-day trial, low-price plan options, and cool collaboration tools such as shared desktops, whiteboarding tools, and in-app private chat. No, you won't be able to integrate the tool with every social network and you won't get access to operator-assisted meetings, but it's got enough to guarantee that your calls are crisp and clear.
4. FreshService Help DeskFreshService isn't the most well-known help desk software but it's an ideal tool for small businesses that don't need all of the bells and whistles of better-known tools. What is most appealing about FreshService (especially for SMBs) is that it offers a free plan that's good enough to help you get started. No, this isn't a free trial; it's an actual free service that requires no payment whatsoever. With that, you'll gain access to online help and tutorial videos that will show you how to get started and optimize your service operation.
5. MailChimp Email MarketingMailChimp is the most popular and most capable email marketing service regardless of your price level or technological savvy. It offers a rich free plan, tons of third-party integration (much of which is available at the lowest price levels), and it's got many email templates that help you fire off emails at a rapid clip. You can even take advantage of a decent amount of email analytics to let you know whether or not your messages are falling flat.
6. Shopify E-CommerceYes, Shopify is the king of all e-commerce platforms. But "best" doesn't always translate to "best for everyone." In Shopify's case, you should be considering this online shopping cart for your web-based storefront regardless of your company's size. That's because it requires very little technological expertise to set up, you can try it for free for 30 days, and it provides an abundance of free templates and tools that will make your online business easier to oversee.
7. Sprout SocialSprout Social is one of the best social media analytics tools available regardless of your company's size. However, for SMBs, you'll love that Sprout offers a free 30-day trial, multiple price tiers, and a clean design that makes sorting and discovering data easy as pie.
8. Zoho SurveyIf you need to gauge how well your product is doing with consumers or if you just want to know what people think of your new ad campaign, you should consider survey management software. Zoho Survey is optimal for SMBs. It has one of the simplest user interfaces (UI) to manage, it offers superb reporting, and it's available for about $19 per month. You can also use the free option, which has more than enough to get you the most basic information (but you'll lose some more advanced features such as email notifications and multi-language support).
Security and Network Monitoring
9. Spiceworks Network MonitorManaging your technology infrastructure shouldn't be a task exclusive to large enterprises. If you need to understand how your apps, servers, and websites are performing, Spiceworks Network Monitor offers incredible network monitoring at no cost. It obviously doesn't have the complexity and extensibility of paid tools, but it's serviceable enough to oversee your network processes and alert you to issues before they become disasters.
10. Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus received almost perfect scores in our lab-based antivirus testing. It scans incredibly fast, takes up very little space on your device, and it's capable of recovering files encrypted by ransomware. This is a small, fast, and reliable antivirus tool that won't cost much money, but doesn't skimp on security.
11. Agiloft Contract ManagementAgiloft offers nearly unlimited customizations that bend and twist to how your company typically handles its contract management. There's a free option that's capable of supporting companies with less than five employees. If you need to go bigger, you'll have to upgrade to the enterprise edition, which is a bit pricier. Either way, you're working with the best contract management solution on the market, one that's limitless in its potential to automate and simplify how you create, manage, and store your contracts.
12. Intuit QuickBooks Online PlusIf you know anything at all about cloud-based accounting, then you know Intuit QuickBooks Online Plus is a behemoth in the industry. For small businesses, it's particularly attractive thanks to its comprehensive set of features specifically designed for modest-sized companies. It's got a clean and intuitive UI, it's affordably priced, and it features flexible contract records, transaction forms, and report templates.
13. SurePayroll You may not have heard about SurePayroll but it's a fantastic tool for anyone who needs to create and manage employee payment records. Although it doesn't have the sexiest UI, it's incredibly easy to set up, excruciatingly detailed, and almost entirely customizable to suit your payroll needs. It wouldn't work well for larger companies as it doesn't provide as many reports as its competitors, but it's great for companies with minimal and complex tasks.
14. Xpenditure Expense TrackingXpenditure expense tracking starts at $7 per month per user, which is extremely friendly pricing for a tool that's capable of accomplishing so much. Its simplicity, multi-lingual, and administrator-friendly platform will help you build a bridge between your employees, your CFO, and the IRS.
Data and Document Management
15. Ascensio System OnlyOfficeIf you'd like document management, file sharing, online editing, project management, and email and calendar integration all in one tidy UI, then Ascensio System OnlyOffice is the right tool for you. This isn't a mind-blowing technology; in fact, dozens of companies offer a similar solution. But Ascensio is cheaper, more expansive, and easier to use than the rest of the field.
16. Carbonite Server BackupCarbonite Server Backup is easy to install, it comes with 24/7 US-based support, and it offers unlimited server licenses. What's not to love? Well, it won't be able to help you in a disaster scenario as it can't replicate your virtual infrastructure or deliver a cloud-based data center. For that, you'll need to pick a bigger tool. However, if all you're concerned about is making sure your backup service doesn't let your data vanish, Carbonite offers a solid tool at a solid price.
17. Microsoft Power BIMicrosoft Power BI takes business intelligence—what is normally a very complex and very expensive task—and turns it into something even a tech novice can accomplish. It's a free tool that lets you drag, drop, customize, and analyze data, up to 1 GB. If you need more storage, you can upgrade for a measly $10 per month to increase your data tenfold. This will also give you access to custom content packs and the ability to interact with other Office 365 users.
18. NutShell CRMYou already know about the major CRM vendors. But did you know that NutShell CRM is specifically designed for small businesses and sole proprietors? This tool will help your mom-and-pop shop compete with larger enterprises by automating sales processes, simplifying contact management, and providing a healthy helping of reports and analytics. Unfortunately, you won't be able to modify Nutshell to your liking so it's a take-what-you-get proposition. This should be good enough for small businesses but it might not work for companies that are at the higher end of the SMB spectrum.
19. SiteGround Web HostingSiteGround Web Hosting lets you perform automatic backups and choose your server locations plus it delivers excellent security. This is a web hosting tool that's extremely friendly for small businesses and new webmasters, especially considering its limited feature set and storage and data transfer limitations will turn off many larger companies. SiteGround's customer service is second to none so, if you need a web hosting company to walk you through every step of your journey, SiteGround is the right choice for you.
20. Tarkenton GoSmallBizIf your company is still trying to prove its potential to investors, you should consider business planning software. None of the tools we rated comes close to Tarketon GoSmallBiz, an easy-to-use solution created by former NFL Hall of Fame Quarterback Fran Tarkenton. Specifically designed for small companies, it features highly customizable and detailed business planning data fields to help you simplify the plan production process. It also gives you access to business planning experts who can help you improve your proposal, and it's able to generate financial statements and projections without external spreadsheet software.