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The Best Free Tools to Start and Grow a Small Business

It’s time to turn your brilliant business ideas into reality. You have a concept that people will love and you trust that you’ve got what it takes — what you don’t have is lots of money. Research shows that most small businesses don’t have a lot to spend on areas like digital marketing, organizational tools or project management.

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In fact, according to a U.S. Bank study, nearly 82 percent of companies fail because of cash flow problems. Whether you’re bootstrapping or just being careful with your budget, you want to keep costs down. At the same time, you need the right technology and tools to create and manage your new venture.

Fortunately, you can combine the two

Here’s our guide to the best free business tools and resources to get your small business up and running, keep everything going to plan and grow successfully. All of the software and apps we list below have a “free” version with limited features. You can typically update to paid and premium versions that remove limitations and increase functionality.

the small business areas

that we cover include

Customer and market research

Business naming and searching

Business startup guides

Business formation

Accounting and tax services

SEO and marketing software

HR and recruitment software

Communications and advice

Project and productivity software

Customer management and service software

Free Customer and Market Research Tools


Free Customer and Market Research Tools

Use small business market research tools to:

  • Explore and validate your business ideas.
  • Understand possible demand for products and services.
  • Get insight into your customers and what they need.
  • Expand into new marketplaces.

The best free market research tools include:

  • Google Trends to identify what people are searching for and understand what matters to them.
  • Answer the Public to see what questions people are asking about specific keywords.
  • Quora to see how questions are being asked and answered.
  • Facebook Audience Insights to understand the demographics and interests of Facebook users.
  • Statista to get statistical information and data points across a wide variety of sources.
  • SurveyMonkey to create surveys and questionnaires to get insights from potential customers.
  • Free Patents Online to understand what inventions have previously been registered.
  • Pew Research Center for deep insights and research into demographics, perspectives and dozens of other areas.


Free Business Naming and Searching Tools

Use business naming and searching tools to:

  • Create unique and interesting names for your new business.
  • Check that your business name isn’t already in use.

The best free business naming and searching tools include:

  • Incfile’s Business Name Search so you can find out if your proposed business name is available.
  • Incfile’s Business Name Generator to create lists of business names that reflect your ideas and brand.
  • NameMesh to create business names that also work as web domains.


Free Business Startup Guides

Use business startup guides to:

  • Understand what you need to do to start a new business.
  • Get insight into businesses in specific states and industries.
  • Stay compliant with any ongoing filing requirements.
  • Work out the best legal structure for your business.

The best free startup business guides and resources include:


Free Business Formation Services

Use business formation services to:

  • Legally create your LLC or corporation.
  • Get a formal Registered Agent in place.

The best free formation services and assistance include:


Free Accounting and Tax Services and Tools

Use accounting and tax tools to:

  • Track and manage money in your business.
  • Send out invoices and receive payments.
  • Understand your revenue, expenses and profits.
  • File and pay the correct amount of tax to federal and state governments.

The best free accounting and tax services include:


Free Small Business SEO and Marketing Software

Use small business marketing software to:

  • Communicate with customers on social media and other platforms.
  • Create promotions for products and services.
  • Plan out your marketing strategy.
  • Track how your marketing is performing.
  • Enhance your website and search engine optimization.

The best free marketing software (non-SEO) includes:

  • FindThatLead to discover and manage leads for your marketing campaigns.
  • Buffer to schedule posts to social media platforms and track responses and engagement.
  • Hootsuite to promote, analyze, manage and measure content on social media platforms.
  • Canva to create beautiful visual designs for your promotions, advertising and other content.
  • Grammarly to ensure your advertising, marketing and other text is free from errors.
  • Mailchimp for creating, distributing and tracking email promotions and newsletters.

The best free SEO marketing software includes:


Free Project, Productivity and Task Management Software

Use project and productivity software to:

  • Plan out major projects to enhance business operations, develop products and services and more.
  • Capture important notes, ideas and information that you can refer to and act on.
  • Manage an ever-expanding to-do list, so you always know what’s next.
  • Create and share documents, spreadsheets, slides and other important assets.

The best free small business productivity software includes:


Free Customer Management and Service Software

Use customer management software to:

  • Capture details about customers and their needs.
  • Build relationships and trust with users of your products and services.
  • Manage potential leads and turn them into paying consumers.
  • Solve problems and meet customer service needs.

The best free customer management software includes:

  • HubSpot CRM to track and manage customer relationships and integrate with paid HubSpot marketing tools, if needed.
  • Capsule CRM to nurture customer relationships and win more sales.
  • Really Simple Systems CRM to track and manage leads and customers.
  • Freshdesk to communicate, manage and resolve service issues with customers.


Free Human Resources and Recruitment Software

Use HR software to:

  • Post and track job positions.
  • Source and communicate with candidates.
  • Manage applicant responses and arrange interviews.
  • Onboard new employees and get them up and running.

The best free HR software includes:

  • Freshteam to manage hiring, onboarding, time-off, employee data and HR workflows.
  • Zoho Recruit to provide diverse end-to-end hiring solutions for small businesses.
  • Breezy for complete recruiting software that helps you attract and hire great employees with less effort.


Communications and Advice Tools

Use communications and advice tools to:

  • Stay in touch with colleagues, even across multiple time zones.
  • Interact with others over video or audio.
  • Ask questions and get advice from peers and experts.
  • Collaborate on joint initiatives.

The best free communications and advice tools include:

  • Slack for communicating with your colleagues and others.
  • Zoom for free video conferencing.
  • Skype for free audio and video calls.
  • Reddit for asking for advice in relevant forums.
  • LinkedIn for connecting with other professionals.

We hope you’ve found this list of free business tools useful and that it gives you a great foundation for bringing your next idea to life. Now, go do!