At Acme Solutions, we are always exploring new business software. Partly, this is to find the best fit for our needs at the time and partly to provide better recommendations to our small business clients.

In early 2022, we faced issues with having too many apps. Our accounting, email, project management, booking, client/team chat, automation, and site monitoring were all on separate platforms. Switching between so many apps was a nightmare, which led us to try Zoho.

Zoho is an Indian web-based suite of apps aiming to be your business’s operating system. If you need an app for any part of your business, Zoho has it.

From email to hiring, help desk to accounting, website chat to social media management, Zoho offers apps for all aspects of your business operations. Beyond moving your operations to a single provider, the interconnections between apps and easy employee management are major draws.

We tried many Zoho apps, including Zoho Mail, Zoho Books, Zoho Sign, SalesIQ, Zoho Social, Site24x7, CRM, Bigin, and more. Here’s what we thought:

The Good 👍

  • Zoho offers free trials for all their apps, allowing you to test them out before committing. Just be careful not to try too many at once, or your trials might expire before you fully set them up.
  • Zoho provides new businesses with credits to cover a portion of initial subscriptions, easing the migration process.
  • We liked the look and feel of Zoho Books and absolutely adored Bigin, a simpler CRM for smaller businesses. Zoho Sign worked well, and despite a complicated setup, Zoho Mail had a great layout and features.
  • Zoho’s support was responsive and helpful when we encountered issues.

The Bad 👎

  • While Zoho offers an app for everything, many seem to have been developed independently and later integrated, resulting in inconsistent support teams, settings menus, and button layouts. Each app feels more like a standalone product rather than part of a cohesive ecosystem.
  • Many Zoho apps fall short in features compared to free non-Zoho alternatives, often requiring a paid subscription to access functionalities available for free elsewhere. For example, while Zoho’s SalesIQ offers many features, its free plan lacks several features available on

The Ugly 😕

Despite liking apps like Zoho Books, Bigin (CRM), and Zoho Social, we found many basic functionalities locked behind higher-tier plans and confounding decisions. Here are two examples that come to mind:

Zoho Books

Most small business could probably get away with the free tier, and the paid plans are affordable for those who need them, Zoho Books groups features in a way that doesn’t make any sense to us. For example, stock trading is on a cheaper plan than using a custom domain or the client portal, which seems illogical. Custom domains should be included in the free plan, first upgrade plan, or as an add-on feature. Having it on a mid-tier plan at nearly $100/mo while stock trading was on a more affordable plan felt so bizarre it felt like a cash grab to us.


Bigin is a friendly CRM for smaller businesses to track sales. However, it locked the settings for changing the outgoing email to the admin account’s email address unless we upgraded to the Express plan. This is problematic because most companies have separate emails for sales, and being able to choose the email used to communicate with clients is such a basic feature of a CRM. This restriction, combined with other inconsistencies in Zoho apps, felt like another cash grab.

We had a similar issue with most of Zoho’s apps. In the end there were several issues with Zoho that kept us from making the switch.

  • Most apps don’t integrate or communicate well with each other (especially when compared with something like Google Workspace) making the whole system feel more like a hodgepodge of sperate apps thrown together.
  • Zoho’s pricing is a mess. While there is an option for ‘Zoho One’, a per user subscription with access to most of Zoho’s apps, it’s not clear if the subscription unlocks all features on those apps or only to a certain level or what to do with employees who only need access to a few apps.
  • Several of the apps required a subscription for features we could get for free with other services and paying just to stay in the ecosystem didn’t sit well with us.


There were a lot of apps in the Zoho ecosystem that we really liked, but there were also many buggy ones that still need some work. We had high hopes that the concept of a business operating system would work, but in the end, it wasn’t for us. Zoho isn’t a bad system, but it is geared more towards larger companies with teams of employees and less so for small businesses.

Don’t let that keep you from trying them out, though. As we said, we loved some of the apps, and if there is one that looks like it would work for your business, we say give it a try. Even if you only stay for that one app and don’t adopt the whole ecosystem. Zoho remains a dominant player in the business software sector and is a trusted name.


When we are trying out new software either for our business, reviewing it to decide if we want to recommend it to our clients, or to write on these articles about it we do not tell the company what we are doing and use the free trial or pay for the software ourselves. This is so we get the authentic experience the same as our clients would get.