If you’re in the market for a customer relationship management (CRM), project management tool, or both, you’ve probably come across 17Hats.
17Hats positions itself as "The premier business management platform for solo business owners."
It’s a well-known software that can help you stay organized and on top of your client relationships. It gives you the ability to upload documents, send invoices, and collect payments, and manage projects.
The downsides of working with 17Hats are a User Interface (UI) that leaves a lot to be desired, a steep learning curve. Also, it tries to be a one-size-fits-all tool where there are better alternatives for specific types of businesses.
The goal of this post is to list several options in different niches (from tools aimed at freelancers, to creatives, to agencies) so you can make your decision.
Summary: Best 17Hats alternatives
At a glance, here are the top 10 alternatives:
- ManyRequests - Best for agencies (especially creative agencies)
- Dubsado - Best for for freelancers that want a simple tool
- HoneyBook - Best for creative freelancers
- Monday - Best for project management
- Hubspot Operations Hub - Best for businesses that already use Hubspot
- Bitrix24 - Best for tracking leads and sales
- Bonsai - Best for freelancers that want tax and accounting included
- Flowlu - Best for collaboration
- Agiled - Best for those looking for a simple business management tool
- Indy - Best for freelancers who are starting out
Read along for what to consider and a deep-dive into each alternative and what to consider when choosing one.
5 things to consider when choosing a small business management software
There are a few essential points to consider when looking for a project management software, including the features, cost, UI, ease of use, integration options, as well as the size of your business.
If you're looking for an all-in-one software to manage your business, here are some features to consider:
- Customizations (does the app allow you to use your own domain for example?)
- Project management
- Time-tracking and reports
- Integrations (read on below)
This is perhaps the most important criteria to consider when choosing a project management tool. You want to opt for something that offers amble features and capabilities. Things like being able to upload and share documents, customize your processes, intake forms to make onboarding simple, and access to progress reports are key. A tool with all of the above and more is ideal.
A couple of things to consider here:
- Will cost increase as you add more clients?
- Are there transaction fees?
It's thus important to see if the app will stay affordable as you grow.
3. Ease of use
Ultimately, you'll work with your clients. Here's what I'd consider:
- Is it easy to set up and customize? Or do you require?
- Is it easy to use for your clients?
Along the same lines of UI, when you go with a project management software that’s easy to understand and adapt to, everyone wins. There shouldn’t be a steep learning curve and your team should be able to understand how to use the software quickly and easily. Again, they are the ones who will be working with the tool the most, so you want to make sure it’s as straightforward as possible. The same goes for your customers if you’re opting for a client-facing tool.
As regard to integrations I'll look for two things specifically:
- Zapier: Does the app feature a Zapier integration so you can integrate it with your other tools?
- Native integrations: In case you don't want to use Zapier, what are the existing direct integrations with the app?
5. Your business type (and size)
Nowadays there are tons of options available but are they really built for you?
Lastly, the size of your business determines much when it comes to choosing a 17Hats alternative. A solopreneur won’t need the same support as a medium-sized corporation. This goes back to determining your budget and what features you need. What kind of support could your business benefit from? How large is your team? How many clients do you work with per month? Per year? All of these things matter when choosing your ideal tool.
Without further ado, let's dive into the alternatives!
ManyRequests is a client portal software and project management tool for creative agencies. We’re passionate about making things as easy as possible for our users and we’re proud of our various features. You can upload and access files, share invoices, as well as create and manage project reports. You can update your projects as you hit important milestones, and (best of all) you can share all of this with your customers, thanks to our client-facing portal.
The best thing about ManyRequests is that it's 100% free for solo businesses. You only pay Stripe transaction fees.
The portal is 100% customizable which means that you can add your own branding — customers will have the feeling like they’re working in your very own specially made app. This is hugely important for creative agencies that want to stand out and make their mark. It’s also easy to understand and use.
- Completely customizable interface: The ability to add your logo, brand colors, and domain name to the tool is something that makes ManyRequests stand out. It’s especially appreciated by creative teams.
- Manage each client in the same place, separately: If you’re working on several different projects for several different clients, you’ll be able to manage them all in the same place. You can also assign an account manager to each project so you know that at least one person has eyes on it so that nothing slips through the cracks.
- Project reports: It’s all well and good to feel like you’ve got a handle on what’s going on in your business. But, having a report ready for you to look over is the only way to make sure everything that needs to get done, gets done. You can embed reports that show what you’ve already accomplished and what you’re working on directly into the portal. You can use Google Data Studio and Airtable to do so.
- Easy sharing: You can upload and share files, documents, invoices, project deliverables, and more via our project management tool. This makes connecting with your team members and clients more straightforward and organized. Gone are the days of searching through your email inbox for an important file.
- Delegation: No project management software would be complete without a bit of automation. You can set up yours in a way where a team member will get alerted of an upcoming task as soon as one is finished. This is really helpful for teams that have issues with staying on top of deliverables — and who is responsible for them.
- Clear communication: Your team will be able to communicate amongst themselves as well as with the clients via the tool.
- Free plan: 100% free for solo entrepreneurs
- Basic (best for smaller agencies): $129 per month.
- Pro (best for agencies looking to scale): $299 per month.
- Enterprise (custom): Let’s talk!
- Fully customizable interface
- Easy access for clients and their teams
- Share documents
- Send and manage invoices
- Easy onboarding for clients
- No custom menus (not yet!)
- No API yet
Dubsado is a CRM software that is aimed at a variety of industries including photographers, coaches, event planners, virtual assistants, and web and graphic designers. It can help you create workflows, build relationships with your clients, and schedule meetings, and their payments feature is very robust. You can send invoices, collect payments, set up payment plans, as well as send payment reminders.
- Keep track of communication
- Time tracking
- Taskboard for to-dos
- Form and questionnaire builder
- Billing and payment processor
- Starter: $200 per year
- Premium: $400 per year
- Customizable lead capture forms
- Onboarding workflows
- Upload files, documents, and invoices
- Communicate with clients directly
- Great for freelancers and solopreneurs
- Best for small businesses, not large ones
- No free version, just a free trial
- Limited integrations
Honeybook is another CRM software that hopes to streamline your processes and make work easier. It’s a bit different than the other options on this list as it is quite focused on accounting, bookkeeping, and invoicing. It also features financial management tools that will help you keep on top of your budget. It also has a payment processor built-in.
- Questionnaire templates
- Invoicing, payment processor, recurring payments
- Financial management
- Booking calendar
- Automatic lead collector
- Easy to use
- Unlimited Monthly: $39 per month
- Unlimited Annual: $390 per year
- Lots of documentation and help when getting started
- Bookkeeping and accounting features
- Strong focus on finances
- Excellent customer support
- No document upload limit
- Need integrations for financial management
- Limit on amount of transactions per month
Monday.com is one of the most well-known project management tools on the market. It can work for a variety of industries, including creative agencies. You can manage projects, sales, workflows, and even employee onboarding and training. It also has a focus on financial management, thanks to its expense tracking and cost management features.
- Inventory management
- Team and HR management
- Budget and expense tracking
- Easy to use UI
- Automation capabilities for tasks
- Real-time reports
- Individual: Free for up to 2 users
- Basic: $8 per user per month
- Standard: $10 per user per month
- Pro: $16 per user per month
- Enterprise: Custom pricing
- All of the essential features for managing any type of business
- Free plan for freelancers or very small companies
- Robust financial management features
- Attractive UI
- Customizable workflows or templates
- Steep learning curve
- Mobile integration isn’t great
5. HubSpot Operations Hub
HubSpot is a marketing, sales, and service software company. Their Operations Software is a powerful customer management tool that is used by freelancers and large companies alike. The main goal of the software is to help keep companies and customers connected and on the same page when it comes to various projects. The software also encourages long-term relationships between teams.
- Client-facing portals
- Automations for workflow
- Task management
- Booking calendar
- Automatically logs sales
- Customer databases
- Starter: $45 per month billed annually
- Professional: $720 per month billed annually
- Enterprise: $2,000 per month billed annually
- Sync customer data across systems
- Automations for nearly everything
- Project and financial reports
- 24/7 customer support
- Training to help with the learning curve
- Focused on sales and marketing teams
Bitrix24 is a CRM tool that will allow you to manage your clients, keep up on invoices, and basically run your business. It has many more features than 17Hats, and it even has a mobile app to help you manage on the go. If you need it, Bitrix24 also offers lead generation from a large variety of sources. The software also excels in task management.
- Automated workflows
- Calendar management
- Share and store files
- Team and client communication
- Upload and sign contracts
- Multiple views like Kanban and Gantt
- Free: Free for unlimited users
- Basic: $39 per month billed annually
- Standard: $79 per month billed annually
- Professional: $159 per month billed annually
- All-in-one CRM tool
- Mobile app
- Project reports
- Easy to use UI
- Time tracker for employees
- Features and capabilities can be overwhelming
- Free plan only offers 5 GB of storage
Bonsai is aimed specifically at freelancers and entrepreneurs who want to get a better handle on their business. It boasts an attractive UI and it’s very simple to use. With Bonsai, you’ll be able to keep track of invoices, track your time, create and sign contracts, and even prepare for tax time. They offer tons of templates for workflows, invoices, and contracts to choose from as well. It’s a great option for novice business owners.
- Automations for workflows, proposals, and contracts
- Electronic signatures
- Clients can accept proposals from their smartphones
- Collaboration capabilities
- Can add time tracked directly to invoices
- Global payments
- Workflow: $19 per month billed annually
- Workflow Plus: $29 per month billed annually
- Add-ons: Varies
- You can automate invoice reminders
- Accepts 180 currencies
- No document upload limit
- Can restrict access to documents if a client hasn’t paid
- Easy to understand task management
- Need to pay extra to invite collaborators
- Need to pay extra for tax assistance
Flowlu is on a mission to help businesses “flow” better. It’s a business management system that brings your projects, CRM, invoicing, collaboration, and other workflows together. If you’re looking to scale and grow your business, Flowlu may be a good choice for you. The ability to manage your projects and CRM together is one of the best parts of using this software. It also has payment processing and accounting tools built in.
- Event and project management
- Templates for emails
- Accounting, invoicing, and payment capabilities
- Multiple views available for tasks
- Time tracking
- Monitor cash flow for projects
- Free: Free for 2 users
- Team: $29 per month billed annually
- Business: $59 per month billed annually
- Professional: $119 per month billed annually
- Enterprise: $199 per month billed annually
- Offers lead management
- Attractive and easy to use UI
- Real-time reports
- Custom workflows
- Can manage multiple projects at once
- Features can be overwhelming for novices
- Free plan is only for 2 users
Agiled is all about letting you “run your business from one app.”
You’ll be able to manage several different projects at once, your CRM, invoicing, contracts, and more. Agiled offers many different features and integrations, including inventory management if you sell physical goods, marketing, and vendor relationship management. It’s a good option for freelancers and small agencies.
- Client-facing portal
- Lead management and other marketing tools
- Create proposals and contracts
- Payment processing
- Payroll management for employees
- Solo: $7 per month
- Starter: $15 per month
- Premium: $45 per month
- Business: $79 per month
- Easy to use and understand
- Simple client-facing portal
- Not ideal for larger companies
- The list of features can be overwhelming
Indy is another project management software solution that would work best for freelancers, solopreneurs, and small teams. It’s an all-in-one tool that assists with calendar management, time tracking, invoicing, collaboration, and task and project management. You can come up with proposals that you design yourself without the tool as well. You can store and track documents too.
- Live chat with clients
- Custom forms
- Lead generation
- Built-in time tracker
- Calendar management
- Free: Free
- Pro Bundle: $4.49 per month billed annually
- User-friendly UI
- Great customer support
- Freemium plan
- Optimized for freelancers, not larger businesses
- Challenging to use on mobile
Consideration #1: What 17Hat alternative is best for small teams and creative agencies?
ManyRequests is your best bet if you lead a small team or a creative agency. We created our software with these types of businesses in mind. Our customizable client portal, project reports, automations, and sharing capabilities are essential for agencies! Your clients will be able to easily access their projects, invoices, and deliverables in one, bespoke area. It will take your professionalism up a notch, which is always a good thing.
Consideration #2: Do I need a CRM and a project management tool?
The terms CRM, project management tool, and management software get thrown around a lot and are often used interchangeably. That said, CRM tools are focused more on marketing and keeping track of clients, while project management tools and software are more about keeping your team on track. It’s up to you to decide what you need (many businesses opt for both). Again, this is a part of going back to the size of your team, and what your specific needs are.
Wrapping things up
After reading this article, you have much to think about and consider. Remember to go back to what to look for when searching for a 17Hats alternative, and then read through the options. If ManyRequests (that’s us!) stood out for you and you’d like to learn more, we’d be happy to chat with you about your options. Click here to schedule a call, or click here to watch a demo and sign up for a free trial.