By Sarah Max and Elaine Pofeldt
March 10, 2016
Illustration by Sarina Finkelstein for Money

Are you setting out to launch your own business? If so, you’re probably funding the operation on your own dime. You need to keep costs down, while still keeping clients happy. These free or low-cost services, software, and sites let even small operations compete with the big guys.


This accounting software lets you create invoices, track the average time your clients take to pay you, and make a profit and loss statement instantly.

Price: A plan that lets you bill up to 25 clients is $19.95 a month.


This virtual phone system routes calls from your business’s local and tollfree numbers to your cellphone, letting clients reach you wherever you are. You can add extensions as you build out.

Price: $24 a month (for 500 minutes).

Haiku Deck

No in-house designer? No problem. Make simple, professional presentations with this easy-to-use program. Upload your own photos or choose images that are recommended based on keywords in your text.

Price: $10 a month.


This simple app makes it easy to track your business expenses, create digital images of receipts, and submit reports. You can reimburse your employees via payroll or even PayPal.

Price: $5 a month per active user.


You can send business contacts a link to your calendar so they can see when you’re free and pick a meeting time. (But they can’t see what you are doing when you are not available.)

Price: $5 to $49 a month.


This service lets you set up conference calls without having to create an account. Plus, your international clients can get a local number to call in to, while you use your domestic number.

Price: free.


Between email chains, messages, and apps, it’s a wonder anyone gets work done. Slack puts all your communications in one place, making it easier to collaborate with your team in real time, search your inbox, and share files.

Price: Free for basic service; $6.67 per user per month for unlimited messages and searchable archives.


Keep a pulse on employees’ frustrations and ideas with this simple communication tool. Employees spend 15 minutes each week answering simple but telling questions. Managers take five minutes to read and respond.

Price: $49 per month for the first 10 people.