What to Do When Free Small Business Software Isn’t Actually Free

free small business software

To pay or not to pay? That is the question we face so often when using free small business software.

That’s because a lot of the apps and tools we use these days are offered on a freemium model. You can access a lot of the functionality you want for free.

That’s how they get ya hooked.

Then you find that certain features or certain usage thresholds are only available for a monthly fee. Doh!

Don’t sweat the question though. There’s no need for your mind to suffer on this one. Keep reading for our two cents on paying – or not – for free small business software like Spotify, Pandora, Slotted, and Feedly.

Be sure to read all the way to the bottom for links to reviews of other small business software including:

  • Asana
  • Canva
  • Dropbox
  • G Suite (fka Google Apps)
  • Hootsuite
  • LastPass
  • Leadin
  • Mailchimp
  • Reply
  • Slack
  • Wunderlist

1. Spotify and Pandora for Serenading Your Shoppers.

What is it? Spotify and Pandora make those groovy noises that fill your earholes when you jack into your smartphone.

What do I get for free?

Groovy noises for personal non-commercial consumption. You know, like, to listen to in your earbuds, home, or car or to play when you’re hanging out with friends.

What do I pay for?

For $34.99 per month, Spotify’s partner Soundtrack Business delivers tunes approved for commercial use – like in your store – in the form of 25 continuously-updated never-ending music streams and 150 thematic 10-hour playlists.

For $26.95 per month, Pandora’s partner Mood will deliver tunes approved for commercial use on that platform.

What’s the bottom line?


Why? Music is no different than stock photography. An artist created that and has rights to how it gets used. You probably won’t get sued for violating those rights … but do you really want to risk it?

2. Slotted for Scheduling Help at Your Events.

What is it? Slotted makes it easy for organizers to get folks signed up for events – from dinner parties to tradeshows. You define the shift times, locations, and responsibilities and your helpers pick which ones work best for them.

What do I get for free?

One event at a time with up to 25 shifts.

What do I pay for?

For $1.99 per month, you get unlimited events with up to 500 shifts.

What’s the bottom line?

It depends.

Why? Well, how big is your event? We used Slotted’s free version for a single-day tabling event with Humane Society. We used the paid version to organize hundreds of volunteers during PHX Startup Week.

Slotted performed great in both instances.

3. Feedly for Keeping Up With The DRIVE… and Your Other Blogs.

What is it? Feedly pulls posts from all your favorite blogs into a single interface accessible from your web browser or smartphone app. Now you can ditch those inbox-clogging newsletters and timeline-cluttering Twitter accounts.

What do I get for free?

Subscribe to as many as 100 blogs and segment them into up to three feeds. My feeds, for example, are digital marketing blogs, adventure and travel blogs, and friends’ blogs.

What do I pay for?

For $7 per month, you can subscribe to more blogs and segment into more feeds. Plus, you can connect with some other cool tech like Evernote, IFTTT, and Zapier.

What’s the bottom line?

Don’t pay.

Why? If you follow more than 100 blogs, it’s time to prune that list, get back to work, and maybe look for a 12-step group.

Want More Free Small Business Software?

If you’re like us, you can’t get enough free small business software. Here are more reviews of great software for your small business!

What free small business software do you love?

About the Author

Matt Simpson

Matt is a freelance writer for The DRIVE blog with expertise in digital marketing, social media, and copywriting. He's active in the #yesphx startup movement and has been recognized by AdWeek, Mashable, and more for digital innovation. Visit Matt's website or follow Matt on Twitter.


  1. Ivan says

    Now you can hardly find an app not on a freemium model. Freemium’s downside is that the price is higher for those who pay. You pay for what you use and you pay for those who use but don’t pay.

    • says

      Good point! On the other hand, if a piece of software really delivers value for a user, that user should be quite willing to pay. Right? I think freemium is very user friendly because the user gets to decide if they’re getting value before swiping their credit card. There are no surprises!

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