If you're an entrepreneur with a startup business, you might be ready to invest in some core software tools to help you build your business and run everyday tasks more effectively and efficiently.
These daily tasks may include streamlining communication and collaboration, managing projects, and handling customer relationships, among others. Some tools that meet these needs include:
But shopping for those tools– including comparing pricing of different products and finding tools that meet your budget and business needs–can be time-consuming.
Price is the key factor when you choose a tool for your business, especially for a startup with limited resources. Let’s dive into a few startup business software categories to check out the top-rated products and cover their pricing models.
With the ongoing digital transformation and emergence of cloud-based solutions, software vendors offer several different pricing models and it's important to understand them before you start shortlisting products.
Let’s have a look at the common pricing models you’ll come across when shopping for software for your startup business:
1. Subscription pricing model: This is when the vendor hosts the software on their servers (also known as Software-as-a-Service) and it can be accessed on compatible devices over the internet. The business pays a monthly or annual subscription fee. Pricing can depend on various factors including the number of users, employees, contacts, emails, assets, and more.
2. Pay-as-you-go model: This is a usage-based model that charges customers based on how much they consume a product or service. Many cloud-based platforms deal with high-volume items such as contacts and emails and set up the pay-as-you-go model to calculate usage to a precise level (e.g., per gigabyte of storage used or number of messages sent).
3. Perpetual licensing model: With this model, the business user hosts the data on its own servers, so it only needs to pay for the software upfront. It may also pay a recurring (e.g., annual) cost to the vendor for support, maintenance or product upgrades. Perpetual licensing may be an attractive option for large businesses that are concerned with data security or have complex needs.
4. Freemium pricing model: As exciting as the word "free" may sound, the freemium version of a tool is typically a "lite" version and is limited in terms of features and functionality—users need to pay to upgrade to the full version of the software. However, freemium products can be a great option for startup businesses that have limited software budgets or that want to test out a product before committing to a contract.
5. Free plans: Some software vendors offer completely free versions of their software. These tools come with all the basic features that you need for your business and are a great option if you have little or no budget for software.
When investing in a tool for your startup business, you need to be aware of hidden costs. These additional costs could come in the form of:
Add-on fees: If you want any features that aren't included in the base model of the tool, you'll have to pay an additional price for those.
Data migration fee: Ask the vendor about the cost of transferring your data between systems and/or exporting the data as files that can be imported into the new system.
Training fee: Ask your vendor if you’ll have to pay for training resources such as how-to videos and webinars or customized implementation and training plans.
Maintenance and upgrades: Check which maintenance and support services the software vendor offers and whether they are included in your software subscription or licensing fee.
We've created price comparison tables to highlight how some core tools for startup businesses stack up against each other in terms of starting price and the availability of free trials and/or free versions—allowing you to compare these products all in one place.
Let’s look into some common startup business software categories and the pricing of some popular products in each category. (Please see the methodology at the bottom of the page for information on how these products were chosen.)
Project management software helps professionals manage and execute projects—unique initiatives with a set scope, timeline, and resources. These tools help project managers plan, monitor, and control project costs, schedules, and resources so they can deliver value and meet project success criteria.
Project management software as a category has evolved to encompass a range of solutions, from task management tools to robust project management solutions. The basic features include task management, collaboration, and project tracking.
How much does project management software cost?
The cost of project management software varies depending on factors such as the number of users, number of projects, number of spaces, deployment type, integrations, workspaces, and more.
Here’s a price comparison snapshot of top-rated project management products:
Note: The products in the above table are arranged alphabetically and the pricing included is for the entry-level/lowest-priced offering (discounted pricing not considered) found on vendor websites as of May 6, 2022. The cost of these project management software products may vary based on the number of users, projects, or other factors.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software is designed to help businesses automate and manage the customer lifecycle for sales and marketing departments. CRM software collects customer information into one repository and helps users manage relationships better, automate common processes, and monitor performance and productivity.
The core or basic functionalities include contact management, lead management, and interaction tracking.
How much does CRM software cost?
CRM solutions are generally priced on a per user, per month basis. The cost of CRM software varies depending on several factors such as the number of users, number of contacts, deployment type, integrations, and more.
Here’s a price comparison snapshot of top-rated CRM products:
Note: The products in the above table are arranged alphabetically and the pricing included is for the entry-level/lowest-priced offering (discounted pricing not considered) found on vendor websites as of May 6, 2022. The cost of these customer relationship management (CRM) software products may vary based on the number of contacts, users, or other factors.
Collaboration software allows businesses to share information by providing an online or intranet-based environment for virtual teamwork. The software is used in multiple industries such as advertising, banking, government, healthcare, marketing, and IT and offers basic features including communication tools, file sharing, progress tracking, document sharing, version control, role-based access, permission control, multichannel communication tools, and a document repository.
The software helps employees collaborate with ease, communicate quickly, and share resources. Multiple users can simultaneously manage and share tasks, projects, and updates in real time, while working in a collaborative environment.
How much does collaboration software cost?
Collaboration software cost usually varies based on the number of users or features offered by the version of the software.
Below is a price comparison snapshot of top-rated collaboration products:
Note: The products in the above table are arranged alphabetically and the pricing included is for the entry-level/lowest-priced offering (discounted pricing not considered) found on vendor websites as of May 6, 2022. The cost of these collaboration software products may vary based on the number of users or other factors.
Figuring out the total cost of a tool can be a difficult task because there are numerous factors that influence the cost structure.
Here are some questions that can help you figure out exactly what you need in a tool and then the total cost you will have to pay:
How many users/employees are you purchasing the software for?
How many emails, projects, workspaces, etc. do you want your software to support?
What is your business size: solo, small, midsize, or enterprise?
What type of software features and functionalities do you need for your startup business—core features or advanced?
Does the software offer any add-ons? If yes, which ones will you need and how much do they cost?
Which pricing model are you comfortable with—subscription-based or pay-as-you-go?
Is free software available for your category and if so, is it sufficient enough for your business needs?
Does the software involve any installation and training fees?
Based on how you answer the above questions, the same software could cost you hundreds of dollars less or thousands more.
The price comparison guide highlights the top ten products that received the highest reviews from end-users in each software category and have pricing available on their websites. The pricing included is for the base plan of the product found on vendor websites as of May 6. 2022. This data may have changed since publication and may not reflect current conditions. For further information on pricing for a particular product, please see the vendor websites.
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