For business owners, time is money. Efficiency is everything, and it’s all about maximising your time and using technology to help you run your business in the best, most efficient-possible manner.
That’s where apps and services come in!
Smartphones and tablet PCs have now become invaluable business tools. Smartphone apps allow business owners to run their business without being bound by time or location, and even conduct business and make important decisions on-the-go.
And then there are many great services that you, as a business owner, can integrate with your business. Many of these services use the power of ‘The Cloud’, and can be great from a cost-cutting perspective, while allowing people to conduct their business easily.
These tools can then become important, integral cogs in the running of any business!
Here are just a few of these essential tools for small businesses and small business owners:
Google Docs allows you to create, store and share Word, Excel and Powerpoint files – or in this case, called Docs, Sheets, and Slides. It is a great collboration tool, as it lets you create a file, store it on your Google Drive, and share it with as many people as you want. If one of the parties makes changes to a file, it is automatically updated for everyone else as well – and all changes are made in real-time. All Google Docs documents are stored in your Google Drive – an online space to store your files. Files can be created on just about any device, and accessed from anywhere in the world. You can give read and write permissions to anyone you want very easily as well.
SkyDrive is a brilliant cloud-storage service, that gives the uber-popular Dropbox a serious run for it’s money! Essentially, SkyDrive – pretty much like the aforementioned Google Drive – is a virtual storage space on the internet that you can use to store essentially any kind of files, and be able to access them from anywhere in the world. You can choose to keep the files private, share them with contacts, or make the files public. At the time of writing, you get 7 GB of free storage, however you can buy more storage easily to suit your business needs. One of the reasons I actually prefer SkyDrive is because it comes with MS Word, Excel and Powerpoint integration.
Think of Evernote as your all-in-one digital organizer. Evernote allows you to take notes – in the form of text-based note, a picture or an image, a webpage, a voicememo or one of the many other things, and syncs all your files across all your devices. Evernote’s forte lies in the fact that you can take notes and store files of and in many different formats, and whatever you store is seamlessly synchronized across multiple devices. Evernote can be accessed over the internet, and has an app for just about all devices out there. For business owners, it might be worthwhile to look into Evernote Business.
Perhaps the best personal finance app for small business owners is Mint. Mint is free, has won a ton of Best App awards as well as a lot of praise from critics and users alike, and it’s easy to see why. It is simply a great money management app that lets you, the business owner, keep track of any and all business finances. You can enter individual cash and credit card transactions and and instantly get a view of your balances. You can track your loans and investments. The app also gives you up-to-date info about budgets and spending through the use of graphs. At the end of the day, Mint helps you keep a track of your financials and business goals and objectives easily.
Square the app, and the technology behind this service, is nothing short of revolutionary. Square allows you to set up a point-of-sale and start accepting credit cards just about anywhere that you might be, using your phone and a free credit-card reader. This credit card reader hooks onto your phone, and allows you to swipe credit cards in order to accept payments. It’s as simple as that! The swipe-device, the app, as well as the service is free and there are no monthly or recurring costs – instead Square charges 2.75% per swipe.
PayPal’s free smartphone app provides business owners an excellent way to manage payment – include accepting and receiving payment, and transfer between accounts – all on-the-go! PayPal makes for an excellent tool for business owners, and using their app, you can easily manage your account from your iPhone, iPad or Android or Windows-powered phone. It might also be worth it to have a look at PayPal Here, a great alternative to the above-mentioned Square, as it lets you accept payments remotely and is also linked to your PayPal account so all payments go directly into your account with minimal hassle.
Gone are the days when people used to have visiting cards printed and exchange them with others. Bump essentially replaces the act of keeping and exchanging paper cards – instead, simply ‘bump’ your phone with another phone and you’ll be able to easily exchange contact information, photos and other files with just about anyone. Bump also does a great job of managing all exchanged information and keeping things organized and easily-accessible.
Apple actually has a pretty great suite of apps for iPad (and iPhone) for business owners. These include apps that come with the OS – such as reminders, notes, mail and calendar. You can then purchase many different document apps from the App Store – such as Pages, Numbers and Keynote. In addition, Apple also has features a separate suite of apps for meetings, sales and business operations. Click on the link above to check these out, you might be surprised as to what you iOS-powered device can do!
Does your business require you to travel? Do you need to travel with a team? Get TripIt, and organize your travel using your smartphone! TripIt is like your personal travel assistant – you can set up your custom itinerary, book flights and rent cars, view maps, get directions, get weather updates, check alternate flights or make cancellations, and more. Business owners might be interested in TripIt for Teams, which at just under $30-a-month, lets you create itineraries for your team, manage them centrally and keeps the whole team in the know about each other’s whereabouts.
“From your couch, on the train or in the air – get anytime, anywhere access to your PC or Mac.” Indeed, LogMeIn allows you to connect and access different computers, workstations and devices remotely from anywhere in the world. All you need to do is install LogMeIn’s client on as many computers as you want, and you’ll be able to access each device and it’s files, access the desktop and run applications remotely over 3G or WiFi.
As an alternative to LogMeIn, TeamViewer is available for many different devices as well – it lets you instantly connect to either a list of recognized computers through another PC or a smartphone, or control a remote computer via a partner ID. In addition, if you’re looking for assistance yourself, you can allow another TeamViewer user to remotely access your computer via a username and password combination. The best aspect about TeamViewer is that it takes you straight to the connected computers desktop and lets you control it from halfway around the world like you would be if you were in front of it! TeamViewer’s free to use for non-commercial purposes, business users can look at plans and features here.
Quite simply a great app for viewing, editing, creating, saving and sharing Microsoft Word files, Excel files, PowerPoint files as well as PDFs – right from your smartphone or tablet. Think of DocsToGo as a great MS Office alternative for smart-devices.
Skype is just brilliant, especially for a free software. You can make free, unlimited Skype-to-Skype audio AND video calls, free chat, and with Skype Premium and for a small amount of money every month, businesses can use Skype for group video calls, as well as unlimited calls. Group video calls essentially lets you conference call with multiple number of people. Apart from it awesome desktop app, Skype is also available for cellphones and smartphones in the form of a nifty little app!
14. Analytics Pro
In a nutshell, Analytics Pro is Google Analytics for your phone (seriously though, why hasn’t Google already come up with a Google Analytics app for phones?). With Analytics Pro, you can keep a check on many different aspects of your website, and get detailed stats, reports and data about your website. Its a free download, and seamlessly connects with your website to provide you with detailed and indepth reports on a multiple domains, on-the-go.
Yammer is a ‘private social network for your company’. Yammer is like Facebook or Twitter, but the only people using it will be the ones you give access to. So it’s like a social networking tool for your company and your employees. Unlike Facebook or Twitter though, people using Yammer will be doing so for company collaboration, file sharing, knowledge exchange and team efficiency rather than simply wasting their time! 😛 It is a great collaboration tool that all business owners with local or offshore teams should definitely consider using. And since Yammer, at it’s core, is still a social networking tool, it does a great job of making employees feel more connected, engaged and hence more productive.
RecruiterBox is a truly outstanding solution for small and medium businesses. It is an online recruitment management software that lets you screen resumes and track applicants. The company behind this claim that ‘it is more efficient than email and simpler than any other recruitment software’ and I must say that I fully agree. The features that come with this service include resume management, applicant tracking, managing the careers webpage on your company website, as well as collaborate and share recruitment and hiring notes and tasks internally. At the end of the day, this software will save you and your business a ton of money and precious resources that would otherwise be wasted in the recruitment process, and what you will end up with is the best human resource working for you!
Dropbox: Yes, I realize that I’ve already included 2 other cloud storage services on this list. However Dropbox’s excellent desktop client makes it worthy of being included in this list. Dropbox gives you 5GB of free storage, however you can buy a whole lot more. Files can easily and seamlessly be shared with other Dropbox users, and any changes made by one member of the team will instantly be syncronised across all workstations in the team.