When running your own business, trying to manage your schedule and fit clients in at the right time can be hectic. If you’re busy, this can end up wasting time you might not have. 

So why not automate the process? Instead of stressing out trying to do it yourself, get an online booking platform to do it for you. We’ve found some of the best platforms for startup businesses, and listed their pros and cons.

  • Calendly
  • Timify
  • Acuity Scheduling
  • Fresha

The best online booking platforms for startups

Online booking platforms can really simplify the day-to-day running of your business. Showing which slots you have available, and letting customers choose what’s best for them, can save you a lot of time and effort. 

Calendly

Calendly offers a great service for businesses. Their biggest selling point is being able to insert the schedule and booking window directly into your website. 

Embedding Calendly makes booking incredibly simple for your customers, since they don’t have to leave your website. 

Plus, if you sync your calendar (Google, Microsoft, or Apple) when someone books your time, it’ll automatically make an event. This is a much more elegant solution than having to manually create events yourself. 

One benefit specifically for businesses that meet online is the Zoom integration. 

Pros:

  • You can embed the calendar in your website.
  • Integrates with your existing calendar.
  • Connects with Zoom for easier online meetings.
  • Easy to reschedule if needed.
  • The basic plan is completely free.

Cons:

  • Lots of features need a paid account.
  • Tech support is limited to email only.
  • Can’t take money for bookings. 

Timify

The Timify online booking system is brilliant for startups, since it does have a lot of useful features in its free version. 

One of the best features is the ‘incoming booking’ feature. Essentially, this means that if a customer selects a certain slot, it’ll get reserved for a set time. After the time is up, the customer loses their claim and the slot is available again.

The point of this service is to stop multiple people from booking the same slot by accident. It even works if you have your schedule available on multiple channels. 

Unfortunately, if you need more than the essentials, you’ll need to upgrade to the premium or enterprise version. The premium version should give you all the tools you need, but it still comes in at £25 per month — not cheap. 

Pros:

  • Works even while you’re out of the office.
  • You don’t need a website to use it.
  • Saves client information to a secure database, so you can contact them later.
  • Prevents two people from booking the same time slot.

Cons:

  • The free version has limited capabilities.
  • The paid versions can be quite expensive (up to £48 per month). 

Acuity Scheduling

Acuity Scheduling is run by SquareSpace, the website building and hosting service. The professionalism is evident, as Acuity is incredibly sleek and user-friendly.

If you’ve made your own website through SquareSpace, it’s quite easy to embed the Acuity scheduler into your website. You can also embed the scheduler into websites made and hosted on other services, but it might be slightly harder.

Using Acuity does come at a cost, but it’s a relatively cheap one. At $15 (£10) a month, you get access to a whole host of features that the other services don’t provide. 

You can charge customers through the booking platform, without it costing you anything extra (you will need a PayPal account). Clients can also use vouchers to discount their booking cost, which can improve their impression of your business. 

There are loads of different apps and services that you can link your Acuity scheduler with. You can even link it to an email blast service, like MailChimp, to announce updates to all your users at once. 

Pros:

  • Integrates easily with various online calendars.
  • Lets you charge clients through the scheduler.
  • Integrates with Google Meet and Zoom for easy online meetings.
  • Lets you offer a range of events, like classes, workshops, and group events.

Cons:

  • No free version for you to use.
  • You might not need all the available features.

Fresha

Designed specifically for salon and beauty businesses, Fresha is perfect if your business deals in wellness. It’s less useful for any other type of business, but if you run a beauty parlour business, then it’s just the thing for you.

Fresha is expertly geared towards businesses dedicated to beauty and wellness. Using the platform even lets you send promotional texts to your clients, which is excellent for keeping them hooked.

You’ll only have to pay costs if you use Fresha’s premium features. If someone books through the Fresha Marketplace, for instance, Fresha will take a 20% commission. 

This commission only gets taken off the first booking from that customer, so you only need to worry about new customers. 

If you run any type of beauty business, then Fresha is the optimal choice for your business. If you run a different business, you’re better off looking elsewhere.

Pros:

  • Fresha is mostly free, with some paid extras and one-off costs for attracting new customers.
  • It can track client history, and even contact customers through integrated email.
  • Fresha can keep track of your product inventory. 
  • You can send marketing/promotional texts to your clients. 

Cons:

  • Not suitable for businesses that aren’t wellness focused.
  • Fresha will take a 20% fee from any first-time clients using their booking platform. 

Other small business tools

If you allow online booking for your business, you might also want to use a video conferencing service. With the right services, you can even integrate the conference tool with your booking platform.

Thankfully, we’ve already had a look at the best Free Video Conferencing Tool for Small Businesses. Check our guide to find out which option is best for your business.

On the other hand, if you’re interested in managing your money more effectively why not check out the Countingup app? It has a range of features (like automatic expense categorisation) that can make it really easy to keep track of your finances.
Download the Countingup app for free today.