Let these apps help you and your small business get the job done

Are you a business owner with excess time?

I didn’t think so. Most small business owners wear so many different hats to run their companies. And often they run their businesses on the go either from a coffee shop or their pickup truck in order to meet their client and/or family demands. Portable electronic devices with Wi-Fi such as laptops made it easier but smartphones and especially smartphone applications have made working on the go accessible to many more business owners.

According to research conducted by Manta, 80.5 percent of small business owners in the United States use their mobile devices for their business once a day or more. While 25.3 percent shared they used them once an hour, 11 percent use them between three and five times daily, and 17.3 percent use them nearly 10 times a day. Clearly, most small business owners depend on their smartphones to run their business.

What makes much of this possible are the apps. They are programs on your smartphone that allow you to do things beyond making a phone call. Name it and there is an app for that.

In fact, in the Apple App Store alone there are over two million apps. Some are designed to entertain us, some to inform us and others to help us be productive.

As a businessperson, apps can allow you to:

▪  Keep in contact outside of the office.

▪  Navigate to locations.

▪  Bank on the go by checking balances or depositing checks.

▪  Track and send estimates and invoices.

▪  Get payment on the spot.

How can apps help you be more productive?

Currently, 55.5 percent of small business owners use their mobile devices to schedule appointments and communicate with customers. Three in 10 also use notes, to-do lists and social media apps with only a quarter using banking for their business. Research has also found that inventory and expense management apps are not used very often, nor are apps that help with creating documents and/or presentations.

There are business apps to help us manage our businesses from the cloud. In business, there are five main types to assist with management:

▪  Accounting — Most small businesses use either Quickbooks or Freshbooks in booking keeping. These are available in the cloud allowing access from a desktop or mobile device enabling businesses to handle invoicing, estimates, expenses, and reports. These are paid services.

▪  Communication — Social media platforms are considered a communications channel, but in the traditional sense for talking and instant messaging there are Skype, WhatsApp, and Signal as ways to communicate with customers and employees. They are free.

▪  Organization — Keeping many balls in the air calls for project management such as Basecamp, Trello, Asana, and Wunderlist to keep everything and everyone on task. These apps offer free and paid accounts.

▪  Payment — Everybody likes to get paid and that’s where Square and PayPal with their credit card reader attachments for mobile devices allows you to take payments on the spot. Fees vary from 2.7 to 3 percent per transaction; PayPal does add a percentage fee and 30 cents per transaction.

▪  Other – There are other business apps worth mentioning such as Evernote, Dropbox, Instapaper, and Pocket. These help you keep electronic files and ideas handy across platforms.

Apps are being created daily for smartphones to make running a business easier and more efficient.

This column was originally published in the Lexington Herald-Leader on April 23, 2017, and nationally distributed to over 300 media outlets through the Tribune Content Agency. 

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