There’s nothing like the excitement of landing your first client when you start a new business.
Once you move from the planning and promoting stages of your venture to communicating with clients or customers regularly, you’ll need some tools to keep you on track.
Enter CRM platforms.
Short for Customer Relationship Management, CRM apps, and software help you to stay on top of interactions with clients and potential customers, ultimately building a stronger relationship with them.
There are loads of CRMs to choose from, with some better suited to new entrepreneurs than others.
What is the Best CRM for Small Business Owners?
Whatever type of side venture you’re pursuing, CRM software can help you with everything from storing client data to tracking sales and social media interactions.
CRM systems range from basic free tools for small businesses to comprehensive subscription-based platforms for massive companies.
Here’s our roundup of the top CRMs to help you advance your side hustle and create a solid relationship with your clients.
1. Square Customer Directory
This free CRM software is integrated into all Square payment tools, providing you with the ability to store customer info, analyze how they interact with your business and engage with them from one central platform.
Plus, when customers make transactions purchase information is automatically generated so they can quickly access contact details and previous purchases while having the convenience of saving their card information for future checkouts.
The software also offers features like filtering and segmentation, reporting tools, loyalty rewards programs and search capabilities which allows you to monitor customer satisfaction levels more efficiently and utilize personalized emails or texts for marketing campaigns based on their shopping behavior.
Additionally, there are large-scale importing + exporting + merging capabilities as well as insight & reporting tools that enable you to keep up with loyal customers while skyrocketing your profit margins.
On top of that, its open APIs integration feature gives you the power to integrate Customer Directory with existing tools and workflows – meaning you don’t have to do any manual work to scale your operations according to demand.
Price: Free when you take payments using Square
Best: Best Overall for Online, Service, and Retail
2. Bigin by Zoho CRM
Coming in at number two on the list is Bigin by Zoho CRM. The minimalist technology was designed with a focus on functionality for small businesses.
Bigin has built-in cloud calling, eliminating the hassle of manually logging calls.
You can integrate your email accounts, using the app to automatically associate messages with your contacts, collect data, and manage email campaigns.
Bigin also has a Gmail add-on, customizable forms to embed on your company website, and Twitter functionality.
One of the best parts of Bigin is that you can easily upgrade to Zoho CRM if you outgrow the beginner’s platform.
Price: $0/mo Free version; $7/mo Express version
Best: Best Overall for New Entrepreneurs
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly, straightforward platform to help manage your data, Hubspot is your go-to.
Hubspot offers several service levels, with paid “Sales Hub” versions, but its core CRM product is free.
With the free Hubspot CRM, you get contact and task management, plus:
- Email tracking, alerts, and templates
- Live chat tool
- Document sharing
- Meeting scheduler
- Prospectus tracker
Hubspot is hard to beat if you’re in need of a free platform with a track record of success.
Price: $0/mo Basic version; $45/mo+ for upgraded Marketing Hub plans
Best: Free CRM
Salesforce is one of the most popular CRMs on the market because of its highly customizable interface and functionality.
The company breaks its CRM services into several levels, starting with the Essentials package.
With Salesforce Essentials, you can track meetings and emails, design dashboards and reports, and manage leads.
This version also supports social media, chat, phone, and email.
The Essentials package is $25 a month when you pay annually, and it comes with free onboarding assistance and a guided setup.
If you’re looking for a cloud-based platform which is easy to customize and navigate on mobile or desktop, Salesforce is a solid pick.
Price: $25/mo Essentials version; $75 – $1,250/mo for advanced features
Best: Customizable CRM
5. Freshworks CRM
Freshworks is an AI-based CRM that makes automating, communicating, marketing, and managing contacts easy.
Formerly Freshsales, Freshworks is another highly customizable platform that allows you to prioritize leads, assign them to yourself (or others if you’re building a team), and see them through.
It also offers email templates and automation and lets you create notes other team members can collaborate on.
Freshworks is intuitively designed, and it comes with demos and FAQs to help you streamline your projects even more.
Price: $0/mo Free version; $29+ for upgraded features
Best: User experience
Agile touts itself as an all-in-one CRM, helping you to tackle marketing, sales, and customer service in one place.
It comes with all the basic features you would expect out of a CRM, plus some cool bonus features, like gamification to liven up sales and motivate you.
Agile’s marketing features are the most impressive, with a drop-and-drag designer to help you set up automated marketing tasks.
It also comes with a nifty landing page builder to help you create pages, forms, and pop-ups to up your lead generation game.
Paired with its social media integration, communication capabilities, and customer service tools, Agile is a solid pick for managing every aspect of customer relations.
Price: $0/mo Free version; $8.99/mo Starter version; $29.99/mo Regular version; $47.99/mo Enterprise version
Best: Marketing Tools
If you’re a Google Workspace lover, you’ll also be a big fan of Insightly.
Why? Because the platform integrates seamlessly with every one of Google’s apps.
In fact, it integrates with over 500 other apps, from social media to email to other CRMs.
In other words, it can save a ton of time and effort by syncing your contacts and other data across platforms and storing it all in one place.
Insightly also has impressive features, like lead routing, workflow automation, and a dashboard with useful data displays and key metrics.
It also offers an extremely easy-to-use mobile app, letting you manage your business on the go.
If you’re looking for a highly functional CRM with easy integration and you’re willing to pay for it, Insightly is a worthwhile choice.
Price: $29/mo per user Plus version; $49/mo Professional version; $99/mo Enterprise version
8. Capsule CRM
A newer CRM, Capsule, is a popular pick for small business owners.
With so many features to maneuver, CRMs can get overwhelming. But Capsule CRM was made with simplicity in mind, with a clean and easy-to-navigate interface.
Even if you’re a novice at managing contacts, marketing, and sales with a CRM, you shouldn’t have difficulty navigating Capsule and making it your own.
Capsule simplifies contact management. The platform stores and organizes all of your contacts, from new leads to longtime clients to vendors.
And it has automated reminders to schedule communications with contacts you haven’t interacted with in a while.
Price: $0/mo Free version; $18/mo Professional version; $36/mo Teams version; $54/mo Enterprise version
Best: Contact Management
Bitrix24’s name is just as unique as the services it offers by comparison to other CRMs.
More so than most of its competitors, Bitrix24 is perfectly suited to self-employed, remote workers.
It has all the features you need to successfully manage your client communications, sales, and marketing, plus task and project management.
You can even build your company’s website or store with one of the site’s SEO-optimized templates.
The platform even lets you send quotes and invoices, combining another step from your daily systems and processes to make you more productive.
Best: CRM for Freelancers
Price: $0/mo Free version; $29.40/mo Basic version; $59.40/mo Standard version; $119.40/mo Professional version
Another platform recognized for being a one-stop shop for CRM, Vtiger has a lot to offer.
The software was designed with a range of industries and types of businesses in mind, including small businesses.
If you’re looking for a free app to help you with sales, contacts, and a customer help desk, Vtiger is a good pick.
You can also upgrade to paid versions with even more features like Calculus, the platform’s AI technology that predicts sales makes intelligent recommendations about client communication and provides conversion analytics.
The one drawback to Vtiger is the learning curve you might face as a new user. Fortunately, there are resources to help you along the way as you learn to navigate the platform and make it your own.
Best: All-in-one CRM
Price: $0/mo Pilot version; $30/mo One Professional version; $42/mo One Enterprise version
Who else is guilty of switching between 5 (or 15, who’s counting?) tabs as you navigate between clients, emails, sales, and video calls?
Close claims to cut down your admin time by 90%, keeping you in one tab for all of your tasks.
When you’re a weekend warrior, every extra minute freed up can be a game-changer.
Close comes with some handy features, like:
- One-click phone calls and in-app Zoom calls with reminders
- Task automation and delegation to teammates
- Visual timeline of touchpoints with each client/sale
While Close doesn’t have a free version, it does come with a 14-day free trial so you can decide if it’s worth subscribing to.
Best: Time-Saving CRM
Price: $29/mo Starter version; $69/mo Basic version; $99/mo Professional version; $149/mo Business version
Pick The CRM Which Works For You
Using a CRM is extremely important to cultivating your client relationships and keeping goals for your part-time business on track.
As your venture and client list grow, having a good CRM is key to streamlining your tasks, staying productive, and ultimately earning more money.