Recommended business apps and tools

I’m often asked what I think are the “best” digital apps and tools for running a small business. So, I’ve collected my recommendations here—all based on my personal use as a small business owner.

So that you know, some of the links provided here are referral links. I’ve explicitly highlighted those, as I will be eligible for a small commission if you sign up for a paid plan with one of those providers, using that link. I want to clarify that I have only signed up for the referral programmes for those digital apps and tools that I rate and use in my business, as they have made a real difference. I would recommend them regardless of any financial incentive. 

Appointment Booking

I spent a lot of time researching solutions for online scheduling that met my needs. I eventually narrowed it down to 2 options: Calendly and CalendarHero. 

Calendly logo

Calendly

I'm on the Standard plan, which costs $10 per month. This gives me access to multiple meeting types, the ability to determine my availability from multiple calendars, and the ability to take payments via Stripe or PayPal.

Even on the Free plan, Calendly offers multiple off-the-shelf integrations with other apps and tools, some customisations for booking pages, and the ability to choose between meeting platforms when booking.

CalendarHero

The Free tier of CalendarHero is hard to beat for features and functionality, offering connections for multiple calendars, 3 standard meeting types, and an AI assistant to help with scheduling. Upgrading to a Professional plan for $8 per month allows you to take payments via Stripe, add more meeting types, and use a Meeting Selection algorithm to collaborate with other users to schedule meetings based on your collective availability. Meeting Directories provide the ability to create multiple booking pages, suitable for sharing with different audiences.
The inability to allow those booking to choose between Zoom, Google Meet or Microsoft Teams for a meeting is what ultimately made me choose Calendly; it's fine if you're only using one platform, but a bit of a pain if you'd like to offer your customers a choice.

Meeting Recording and Transcription

Otter is great on mobile but very frustrating in the web browser, freezing and crashing regularly. Otter doesn’t have a desktop app, but I have found a workaround via WebCatalog that has resolved my browser-based frustrations on the desktop.

As 99% of my online meetings are on a desktop, I recently tried Fathom as an alternative and have been impressed by the features available on the Free plan.

Otter.ai

Otter records audio and takes notes in real time across Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams and will capture screen-shared slides in context. The Otter Pilot will auto-join scheduled meetings and take notes—even if you can't join the meeting yourself! The Pilot is a little intrusive, but the Chrome extension offers a way to record via the browser rather than from within the meeting.

The Free plan is limited to 30 minutes of recording per conversation and 5 hours per month, but this increases to 90 minutes per conversation and 20 hours per month on a Pro plan ($16.99 per month or $120 annually) and also enables you to import and transcribe up to 10 audio or video files from other sources. A Business plan ($30 per month or $240 annually) increases these allowances and also allows you to join up to 3 concurrent virtual meetings.

Get one month of Pro Lite free.
Referral Link
Fathom logo

Fathom

The Free plan features a Chrome extension and a downloadable desktop app that sits quietly in the background until you're in an online meeting. Fathom also works across Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams, but a Premium plan ($19 per month or $180 annually) is needed to access the Zapier integration and the auto-generate meeting actions feature.

The way Fathom joins a meeting is a bit intrusive, although it CAN ask in advance for permission from participants to record. Unfortunately, as of May 2024, there doesn't seem to be a mobile app.

Earn 20% on every customer purchase for the first year.
Referral Link

Task Tracking

When I decided to make Google my main business platform instead of Microsoft, I needed to find a replacement tool for Planner and ToDo that enabled me to track tasks, manage projects, and monitor my sales pipeline. I considered Monday.com and Notion but eventually decided to opt for ClickUp, mainly because others I collaborate with already use it, so directly assigning tasks and tracking progress is more straightforward.  

ClickUp

I'm surprised by just how much ClickUp has to offer; time tracking, whiteboards, video clips and documentation using templates are all here on the Ultimate plan, which at $7 per month is one step up from the Free Forever plan targeted at personal users.
Referral Link

Google Tasks

Don't discount Google Tasks, if all you want is a simple to-do list that's optimised for your mobile device. It's a good way to capture things on the go, and will provide pop-up reminders that can be snoozed if needed. It will also integrate with Google Calendar so you can see appointments, meetings and tasks all in one place.