As if there wasn’t enough on their plates already to keep small business owners busy for decades, the explosion of portable computing devices (tablets, phablets and smartphones to name just a few) have created an entirely new frontier for advertising, sales and – even – running a business. Many new apps are not just for entertainment or information, an entirely new generation of mobile computer users are finding that they can run their business in a more timely and effective manner from their favorite tablet or phone.
Recent advances in application creation have spanned the concerns of small business owners. You can find apps in fields ranging from accounting to time management to business organization. The one common feature that these apps have is the ability to make a business owner’s work not be reliant on fixed location. Some of the best and brightest new and well-worn apps that offer small business owners a great deal of flexibility and a connected advantage are listed below.
Many small businesses rely on QuickBooks to track profit-and-loss, invoice customers and pay their employees. QuickBooks has been a solid performer for decades and, in many ways, is the industry standard for accounting software. Now, with the release of QuickBooks Online, you can use the full-range of the software’s capabilities on your smartphone or tablet.
One of QuickBooks largest advantages is its connectivity to so many other sources. Credit cards, banking accounts, PayPal and many other financial sources can be linked to QuickBooks to keep your financial dealings up-to-date and accessible anywhere and anytime.
The one disadvantage that QuickBooks has is that it isn’t free. Wave, an easy-to-use accounting app designed for small business or personal finance use, doesn’t cost anything unless you use it for processing credit card payments or employee payroll.
Although not as sophisticated as QuickBooks, it is easier to use and more economic for companies with fewer than 10 employees. With Wave, you can create and pay invoices, track sales, scan receipts and, of course, generate accounting reports to your hearts content.
One of the biggest advantages of connectivity is that you no longer must physically attend meetings. The rise of videoconferencing has streamlined the process for getting people at far-flung locations together to talk about business, but until recently you either had to rely on expensive and non-mobile hardware and systems to set up a decent videoconference or do it the old-fashioned way and meet with people.
Fuze is an app that removes the expensive hardware from the equation, allowing anyone with a smartphone or tablet to enjoy high-definition video and great audio. The Fuze app is easy to setup and use. It is a great way to stop wasting time getting to and from meetings.
Much like having a virtual overhead speaker system for everyone in your business network, Pushover allows you to send real-time notifications to anyone – or everyone – in your business network. Employees, vendors, contractors and more can be reached with the touch of a button. For less than five dollars, you can send up to 7,500 messages per month and receive an unlimited amount.
The cost is one-time only and Pushover is already integrated into dozens of apps and web-services including WordPress Plugin and Firefox. Connecting with your customers and employees has never been easier.
The king of computer videoconferencing has kept up with mobile computing. A household name, the basic version of Skype is familiar to almost everyone, but Skype for Business adds several handy features that allows you to videoconference with more people and integrates Microsoft Business for document sharing and project collaboration.
The basic version of Skype is free but Skype for Business starts at $5 (US) per month. The biggest advantage of Skype remains its ubiquity. Even with its faults, Skype is the videoconferencing standard.
Another computer service that took the jump to mobile apps, PayPal should be familiar to all business owners. The mobile version is – in some ways – easier to use and more accessible than the computer version and has kept up with new technologies entering the market place. Mobile credit card readers being the most prominent.
Although PayPal wasn’t the first company to come out with this technology, it has adopted it wholeheartedly. PayPal is a free service, but they do charge 2.7 percent of a transaction per swipe on mobile devices. The paid Pro plan also allows business owners to customize their online checkout page and other features. That plan runs about $30 (US) per month.
Some apps dominate their niche to the extent that most people don’t realize there is competition. Evernote falls into that category. Designed to sync notetaking across multiple devices, Evernote allows you to upload an 60 megabytes of data per month. If that isn’t enough, the paid version upgrades that to 1 gigabyte per month at a cost of $35 (US) per year.
Time management and productivity software is undergoing a renaissance with the proliferation of mobile computing devices. RescueTime tracks the time you spend on applications and websites on your device and sends you a report showing how you spend your day. A highly recommended tool by web designers from Nirmal, for trying to balance work and life, keeping track of your habits and ensuring the proper focus during your day.
The lite version of RescueTime is free and allows you to track your time in different websites and applications, create goals for time management and receive a weekly report. The full version has a cost, but it also adds a daily log, alerts, tracking while away from your device and many other features.
The apps we have talked about here just scratch the surface of the new and time-tested apps available for small business owners to increase productivity, handle accounting and make it easier to spread information on the fly and anywhere you go. Being connected to your business is taking on a whole new meaning.
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