Best video conferencing software for small businesses

Good video conferencing software is nothing less than a necessity for your business. But that doesn’t mean it has to be expensive – or even cost at all...

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Written and reviewed by:
Richard Parris - managing editor of Startups.co.uk

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“We use Zoom here, what do you use?” That pre-meeting sensecheck probably feels familiar to any of us who've tried to set up a video conference call in this age of remote and flexible working. It's challenging enough picking a video call tool for your own staff to use. But, things get really sticky when you're picking a platform that's effortless for external calls with clients and stakeholders, plus can fit in seamlessly with your VoIP phone system, internal messaging and file storage.

In short, the last thing you want is all the friction of setting up a video call causing you to lose the momentum of a meeting, or the possibility of landing an important client or sale.

That's why we've put together this guide to the simplest video conference tools that small business owners can choose. The pandemic is behind us, and no business user should be putting up with time limits on their video calls or a maximum number of guests per call. You want a platform that's fit for a quarterly business-wide all hands, not a remote yoga session.

We'll talk you through the main players on the market, and why we'd recommend some in particular. Plus, we discuss the merits and drawbacks of free video calling software for business users.

Best video conferencing software at a glance

  1. Google Meet (part of Google Workspace): simplest to use and with great business features
  2. Microsoft Teams: built-in for Microsoft 365 users, with constant new features and improvements
  3. Zoom – best for brand familiarity
  4. GoToMeeting: best for advanced features
  5. RingCentral Meetings: best for VoIP integration

Best video conferencing apps: an overview

Video calling apps can be basic, or have every bell and whistle going. But if you do want these bells and whistles, you’ll have to pay for them. Thankfully, even the best video conferencing apps aren’t expensive, with paid plans from the likes of Zoom and GoToMeeting offering small businesses all the features they need for a small monthly fee.

But it’s not all about the paid plans – all of our apps offer free video conferencing options, with trusty Skype and the popular Google Meet video conferencing app making the list for those looking for a more basic offering.

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0 out of 0

Google Meet (Google Workspace)

Microsoft Teams

Zoom

GoTo Meeting

RingCentral Office

Best for

Best overall choice for video conferencing for small business users, with excellent depth of tools through Google Workspace’s extensive web apps

Best for

Best for businesses using Microsoft 365, but thanks to extensive updates and AI-assistance, an excellent platform to tempt new users over.

Best for

Simple to use for anyone familiar with Zoom calls throughout the pandemic, and with a decent free tier that smaller businesses may want to consider.

Best for

Excellent advanced features for business users, and from a brand name that has huge product depth for business-focused software.

Best for

A fantastic choice for business users wanting a platform with VoIP integration at its heart

Pricing
  • Free trial
  • £5 user/month
  • £10 user/month
  • £15 user/month
Pricing
  • Free
  • £3.80 user/month
  • £9.40 user/month
  • £17.60 user/month
Pricing
  • Free
  • £11.99/month/license
  • £15.99/month/license
Pricing
  • £9.50/organiser/month
  • £12.70/organiser/month
Pricing
  • Free
  • £14.99 user/month
  • £19.99 user/month
  • £24.99 user/month
High quality video/audio
High quality video/audio
High quality video/audio
High quality video/audio
High quality video/audio
Video recording recording
Video recording recording
Video recording recording
Video recording recording
Video recording recording
Screen sharing
Screen sharing
Screen sharing
Screen sharing
Screen sharing
How did we choose the best video conferencing apps?

We’ve been supporting businesses for over 20 years. In that time, we’ve built up a wealth of knowledge of the video conferencing features and tools that businesses need to keep communication and meetings as normal as possible when working remotely.

Whether you’re wanting high quality video and audio, screen sharing, conference recording, minimal participants, or hundreds of employees from multiple offices tuning in, our experts have picked out the best video calling apps to suit a range of small business needs.

To compile this list, we've focused on the following key factors:

  • ease of setup – you don't want to fall at the first hurdle, with colleagues or external guests struggling to join an important call
  • value for money – times have never been tighter for UK businesses, and with spiralling overheads, you won't want to enter into a contract on a video conferencing tool that ends up being poor value as your business scales and grows
  • in-call features – sure, they can all let you mute a participant who doesn't realise everyone on the call can hear their child asking for a snack from the room next door; but, video conferencing features go far deeper, with new AI-assistant tools giving you the ability to take minutes and create actions after a call, for instance
  • wider features – some platforms will give you a whole work operating system with video calling included – most notably, Microsoft Teams is part of Microsoft 365, and Google Meet is part of Google Workspace. You get a lot more bang for your buck with these platforms, each of which have their own AI-assistants built in for business users (see our guide to Google Duet vs Microsoft Copilot for more)

Google Workspace logoGoogle Meet (part of Google Workspace)

Best for ease of use and for scaling with your business

If you’re looking for a simple way to stay connected with your close-knit team, you can’t go too wrong with running your video calls through Google Meet, which is a part of Google Workspace.

There have been some name changes over recent years – Meet used to be ‘Hangouts', and Google Workspace used to be ‘G Suite', but one thing is unchanged – you get the slick responsiveness and effortless ease of use that keeps so many personal and professional users hooked on Google's apps.

If you have a personal Gmail account, everything Google Workspace puts in front of you will feel instantly familiar. As part of this setup, business users get access to Google Meet for calls – bolstered by simple scheduling through Calendar, plus in-call features such as a chat window, background effects, plus simple touches like muting and capturing minutes of a meeting.

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Business Starter

Business Standard

Business Plus

Enterprise

Cost

£5 per user, per month for a one-year commitment

Cost

£10 per user, per month for a one-year commitment

Cost

£15 per user, per month for a one-year commitment

Cost

Contact sales

Features
  • Custom and secure business email
  • 100-participant video meetings
  • 30GB storage per user
  • Security and management controls
Features
  • Custom and secure business email
  • 150-participant video meetings and recording
  • 2TB of storage per user
  • Security and management controls
  •  

Features
  • Ediscovery and retention
  • 500 participant video meetings and attendance tracking
  • 5TB storage per user
  • Advanced endpoint management
  •  

Features
  • S/MIME encryption
  • As much storage as needed
  • Advanced security, management and compliance controls
  • Noise cancellation and in-domain live streaming

Google Workspace logoThere are four Google Workspace packages – Business Starter, Business Standard, Business Plus, and Enterprise.

The Business Starter package enables you to make calls with up to 100 participants, while the Enterprise edition takes you up to 1,000. It’s also worth pointing out that you’ll need the Business Standard edition of Google Workspace if you want to record meetings, and the Enterprise tier if you want to live stream them.

It's best not to think of Google Meet as an app used in isolation – it really is part of a wider package of business tools offered by Google. Thanks to investment in the latest AI technology, business users will find these are getting smarter than ever – Google Duet can take notes, suggest meeting actions, and create templates for your Docs, Sheets and Slides.

You can run your business email address through Google Workspace, too, and it's an exceptionally easy platform to grow with as your business scales, backed by a simple pricing structure:

Microsoft TeamsMicrosoft Teams

Best for Microsoft 365 users

Shortly after Microsoft acquired Skype, Microsoft Teams was born – a free alternative communications tool optimised for the Microsoft Office suite of products. Its free version is more of a collaboration tool than a web conferencing app, with document sharing and instant messaging just some of the features small businesses can take advantage of.

The free version of Microsoft Teams is pretty basic, so if you’re looking for features like meeting recording or access for those outside of your Microsoft network, you’ll need to invest in Microsoft 365.

Packages start from just £3.80 user/month. However, for your money, you get some terrific features including constantly-evolving AI assistance to make your meetings smarter than ever.

Similarly to Google Meet, Microsoft Team’s customers commend how well the product integrates with its hosting package – in this case, Microsoft 365. That said, to be able to take advantage of its best features, businesses have to pay extra on top of their Microsoft 365 license, making it a fairly expensive option for small businesses.

See how Teams compares to Zoom in our Microsoft Teams vs Zoom head to head guide

ZoomZoom vector

Best for post-pandemic familiarity

For all the big businesses that struggled through the pandemic, one company had a very successful lockdown indeed. Almost overnight, Zoom went from a respectably-growing software company to the name on everyone's lips. Millions of global users logged into Zoom for everything from a morning standup with their now-remote colleagues, to a post-work yoga wind-down session.

Even with the pandemic behind us, Zoom remains as popular in the office as it is the household, thanks to its trusted high quality calls and ease of use.

Its free package is great for smaller businesses, allowing for calls with up to 100 participants for 40 minutes. Businesses can make use of screen sharing features, and you can integrate Zoom with Google Calendar for no additional cost.

For businesses that require a bit extra, Zoom offers paid plans for a reasonable price. Starting at £11.99/month/license, businesses can host unlimited group meetings for up to 24 hours, and record meetings to the cloud. For small to medium businesses, the next plan up offers sophisticated extras, including business branding and a language interpretation channel.

With businesses of all sizes singing Zoom’s praises, and with an average rating of 4.5 stars across the web, we’re sure the video conferencing app will remain one of the market leaders long after everyday business starts resuming as normal.

GoToMeetingGotomeeting

Best for advanced features

GoToMeeting is a great web conferencing app alternative to Google Meet, Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Though it may not initially seem to have the brand clout of those software giants, it's from software behemoth LogMeIn, who own LastPass, among numerous other business-focused apps.

It doesn’t offer a free service, but its professional paid plan is cheaper than Zoom’s cheapest paid option. You can have up to 150 participants in a GoToMeeting conference call, and HD video comes as standard.

For those looking for a bit extra from their web conferencing app, GoToMeeting offers nifty features such as commuter mode for taking calls on the go, and plug-ins for Office 365, Google Calendar, and Salesforce. And if you’re worried about how secure your business calls are, GoToMeeting goes to town when it comes to protecting call privacy.

With users commending its ease of use and call recording quality, GoToMeeting is a solid alternative to our number one video conferencing app. Just bear in mind that in order to achieve the super high call quality it’s renowned for, GoToMeeting sucks up a fair bit of bandwidth, meaning a high quality internet connection is required.

RingCentral MeetingsRing Central

Best for VoIP integration

Specialists in the VoIP field, RingCentral has pulled together its collective expertise to create a video conferencing app that’s packed full of advanced features – if you’re prepared to pay for them.

The free version offers businesses a package similar to that of the basic versions of Zoom and Google Meet, including screen sharing, whiteboard, call recording, and decent security.

But if you do end up paying for its (somewhat pricey) advanced packages, you’ll get to take advantage of some really cool features.

You’ll be able to integrate full webinar packages, host remote cloud conferences, and experience super high audio quality. And there are some nifty additions too, like safe driving mode and the option to conduct polls during a meeting.

The general consensus from RingCentral customers is that the interface isn’t as easy to use as other video conferencing apps. Hosting video meetings with people outside of the business will also require them to download the software, rather than use a browser plugin.

The best free video conferencing software for small businesses

The great thing about video conferencing apps is that you don’t always have to pay for them to be able to do everything your business needs to do.

All of the video calling apps featured in our list offer businesses a free plan, but if we were to choose our top three, the best free video conferencing apps for small businesses would be:

  1. Zoom
  2. GoToMeeting
  3. Google Meet (via a non-business Google plan)

So how do you work out which one is best for you?

Well, when it comes to deciding on which provider offers the best free plan, working out the differences is like trying to split hairs – there aren’t any, really.

Inevitably, as your business grows, your needs change. So when choosing the best video conferencing app for your small business, consider which one offers you the best future option.

For example, while you may be tempted to pick Zoom on the basis that its free plan offers your business everything it needs, you could be better off choosing GoToMeeting, because it offers one of the cheapest paid plans when it comes to upgrading.

Google Meet, on the other hand, would require you to upgrade your entire Google package to Google Workspace. The good news is that everything will feel instantly familiar – the professional Google Workspace package has the exact same look and feel as a personal Google account for Gmail, Calendar, Docs and Sheets.

Buying guide: how to choose video conferencing software

There are a few key things to be conscious of when choosing a video conferencing tool for your business. We'll summarise them below to help you make the right choice for your own needs.

Cost to scale

Keep in mind, this isn't just about ‘cost per license'. While an initial pricing plan based around ‘per user, per month' looks simple, things can shift as your business breaks through certain growth barriers.

Take a look ahead at your potential software's pricing plans for once you break past 50 employees, or one hundred. Does it continue to scale in a linear fashion? Will you need to jump to an enterprise level? And what kind of limitations (eg maximum number of users per call) could come back to haunt you if you don't plan for these early enough?

Video calls only versus full Office suite

Just need video calls, and happy to run everything else you do through different pieces of software? Zoom may be the answer for you – and, if you're only a small team or solo entrepreneur, you may not even need the paid-for plan.

But, for anyone with a growing number of staff, you're likely better off considering one of the twin behemoths of Google Workspace of Microsoft 365. You're not simply buying into a video call package with either of these. You're getting a deep suite of Office tools for documents, spreadsheets, powerpoint-style slides, cloud storage, business email…and yes, video calls, too.

It is, of course, far easier to book a video call in on a shared business calendar (whether that's Google's or Microsoft's), share documents during and after the call which all live on the same platform, too, then send a followup email that can have it's list of recipients autofilled based on who was on the call.

Ease of joining for external guests

Your business uses Zoom, and all of your team are happy with it. End of the story? Far from it. If you're booking in an important external call with a client, investor, customer or stakeholder, and that person doesn't use the same software, it can create a jarring experience for them initially.

You've been there yourself. How do I log in to the call? Do I need to download this software? Wait, it's now saying I can open it in a different window? Or dial in from my phone, am I meant to do that? Success, I'm in – but why is my camera and microphone off, do I have to change those settings on my system?

In the moment, it's a pain in the backside. But, all of this can create a disappointing first impression of your business for a potentially important external stakeholder. When in doubt, test it out – try to join your potential software of choice from outside of your organisation, and satisfy yourself that it's a seamless experience.

Beware the lure of free

Free video call software is absolutely fine, so long as you're not trying to run a sizeable business with a big team. Most free plans limit the number of users who can join a video conference, and some – looking at you, Zoom – also put a curb on the length of meeting you can book in.

Plenty of your staff may dislike long meetings, anyway. But don't use that as an excuse for failing to find the cash for a the software you need.

Next steps in choosing video conferencing software

Hopefully, by this point you're feeling a lot more informed on the best video calling software you can choose between.

If you're still unsure of how to proceed, the best decision you can make is to try out some free licenses and get a feel for the provider you have your eyes on. For instance, if you haven't used Gmail or other Google personal apps before, it's a smart move to try out a free Google Workspace taster to get a sense of how the web apps (including Google Meet) could work for you and your team.

Remember, video calls aren't going away. The pandemic may be behind us, but the days of full offices five days per week may never be coming back. We won't miss trying to find a meeting room every day, but you can still make things far easier for your team and your external clients and customers by setting them up with a simple video conferencing tool that everyone will find effortless to use.

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Written by:
Richard Parris - managing editor of Startups.co.uk
Richard joined the Startups team in 2021, and has a career in publishing that has spanned over 15 years. As a researcher, writer and editor, Richard has worked on brands across the UK, US and Asia in both print and online, including at the BBC, on the US-focused tech industry site Tech.co, plus at Which? magazine and its website, where Richard oversaw technology reviews and advice publishing. Richard has been an interviewee and contributor on television, radio, newspaper, magazine and online publications, and has featured in interviews including on the BBC and The Scotsman. Richard is passionate about converting potentially complex topics into clear, actionable advice and recommendations, and works alongside the in-house Startups team and its growing network to promote the needs of the UK small business community.
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