Every business can benefit from more efficient processes, as this frees up time to focus on creating new products or attracting new customers. Business apps can provide the perfect way to achieve this. From collaboration through to accounting, we've curated a list of the top 10 business apps that can make a difference to the running of your SME.
For internal collaboration
This real-time messaging app is perfect for communicating with remotely located employees, freelancers and even clients. Communications are automatically archived in one online location and content is easily retrieved via Slack’s advanced search function. The main benefit is cross-team transparency so you can all stop relentlessly cc’ing each other over email. Meanwhile, the searchable history reduces the need for status reports and unnecessary meetings. Best of all, if you’re in a frugal startup stage there is a free licence alternative.
Over 800 million active users can’t be wrong. Of the ‘big three’ cloud storage options (Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive) Google Drive is way ahead of its competitors. It packs a vast number of features that keep SME productivity on track, primarily through the ubiquitous Google Docs. Plus, the days of lost files are all but over as Google Drive can now backup any folder on your computer.
Project management apps don’t come more intuitive and visual than Trello. The interface mimics old school planning processes where each post-it style card is added to digital ‘whiteboard’ and dragged and dropped as your project advances. You can add members, comments and attachments – noting due dates and adding further detail. When a card changes, Trello automatically notifies each stakeholder. Trello is a terrific option for small businesses looking to keep expenditure low, as the basic subscription option with standard features is free to use.
For email management
Gmail plugin ActiveInbox seamlessly integrates into your email interface, turning your inbox into a powerful task manager. Users report they’ve reduced their time spent dealing with emails by up to 30%. By getting the edge over how much time and focus you spend wrangling an unruly inbox, you’re going to truly impact the bottom line of your business.
When it comes to ROI, email marketing continually outperforms other forms of digital outreach so if you’re not actively building your email subscribers, hop to it! While our email marketing ambitions may be great, sometimes as a small business our capabilities may be a hindrance. That’s where MailChimp can help; build and manage mailing lists and easily create and send newsletters via customisable templates.
For accounting & sales
As a small business, keeping track of finance can be daunting and time-consuming. Meet Quickbooks, an accounting software app designed specifically for small business. Manage all your small business finances via this popular app: track sales and expenses, manage invoices and payments and generate accounting reports. Broadly compatible across devices, Quickbooks also offers an app for the self-employed, so if you’re a sole trader all your finances can be managed in one place. What's more, there are also plenty of excellent online resources to guide you through using the software.
The perfect payment app for small businesses, Square is your go-to app for point of sale payments. Whether you’re a mobile trader or a proprietor of a bricks and mortar business, Square’s small portable card reader attaches to a phone or other mobile device to enable you to take on-the-spot payments from clients and customers. The app is compatible with both iOS and Android devices.
Every small business owner knows keeping track of expenditure is fundamental to ensuring operating costs are within forecast. Expensify ensures you have the most up-to-date expense information at your fingertips to help you make decisions on where to spend and where to draw the line. You can link your credit or debit card to your Expensify account, or if you prefer the old fashioned way, you can take pictures of your receipts with your phone and the app automatically extracts the relevant information. Easy!
For team morale
With your head busy in the day-to-day running of a small business it can be easy to overlook the most important asset you have - your team. There are a number of employee engagement and reward tools on the market. However, not only does Perkbox help you reward your valuable employees with discounts and freebies from big name brands, it also works alongside the NHS to help users book GP appointments and fast-track to healthcare services.
Hiring the cream of the crop can pay huge dividends to a business, but what do you do if you’re not able to offer the highest salary? Vestd helps UK businesses create, execute and manage simple and affordable share schemes, enabling you to compete for the best hire by offering shares in your business. With employees holding a vested interest in the business above and beyond their salary, you’re more likely to retain them while also keeping your recruitment costs as low as possible.
About the Author
Andy Mitchell is a UK-based entrepreneur who has been instrumental in driving email productivity for over a decade. His hero product ActiveInbox helps users take control of their inbox by turning their emails into a powerful task manager. Andy’s small business software company has been successfully bootstrapping since 2006 and has helped over 200,000 people reach their peak email productivity.