As technology and smartphones become inseparable parts of our lives, the benefits of apps for enhancing our professional lives also expand.
Even small businesses can find great uses for the right application—and there are more options to choose from than ever before.
Whether it is an app for tracking finances and tax information or one for maintaining communication between employees, there’s something for almost everyone out there.
The following paragraphs will cover some of the best business apps available as well as their specific functions and how they can provide incredible assistance.
Apps for Communicating
#1 – Slack
When it comes to communication, small businesses cannot afford to fall short. As basic as it might seem, being able to communicate clearly, consistently, and without ambiguity is essential.
For this reason, Slack is one of the most powerful small business communication apps out there that can help take your operations to an entirely new level of efficiency and effectiveness.
Essentially, Slack is an app that creates “rooms” and “groups” that can be tailored around specific subjects, people, or goals. From there, individual workers in your business can stay in contact, establish new goals, create deadlines, and manage a variety of tasks.
Even more, Slack operates much like an instant messenger, maintaining a level of efficiency that is often lost in other communication mediums. Conversations can be had publicly with access to anyone in the overall group, or privately in subdivided chat rooms.
As far as boosting efficiency and communication goes, Slack is a great first choice in this category.
#2 – Skype
Although it might seem like outdated technology or somewhat limited, Skype remains one of the most popular and much used apps for staying in contact.
While a great deal of the company’s services caters to private and personal communications, it can also have many professional uses for small businesses.
One of the essential benefits of Skype is that it allows you the ability to make video calls. This can add an entirely new level of complexity and personalization to your contacts with others within the business.
In addition, Skype can facilitate a wide range of features that are not limited to the underlying factors at play. While there are implications that can become suggested over time, they are not actually bound by those frameworks.
For example, one of the most important features for a company is the ability to arrange video conferences and meetings. Skype’s capacity to let you “share your screen” as well as utilize a webcam can assist greatly with video calls and meetings.
Being able to see what others are presenting, be it in a digital medium through screen share or in-person through a webcam is invaluable.
Best of all, many of Skype’s features remain completely free, allowing even the tiniest of startups to get a leg up and remain efficient. Over the years, there have been numerous quality updates, some of which were specifically designed with business goals in mind.
#3 – Pushover
For this very niche app, Pushover solves a common problem seen in the modern tech world: consolidation.
Having a multitude of different apps on your smartphone, each of which is dedicated to its own unique circles and needs, can be useful but also burdensome.
Switching from one app to the other or having to organize all your communications in different areas can become complicated and even lead to losses in critical information.
Pushover solves a great portion of this problem by simply bridging the gap. Various messages and notifications from a number of apps on your device can be brought together into a unified system for greater clarity and easier functionality.
#4 – Fuze
Whereas Skype can be limited to certain operating systems and devices, Fuze takes things to an entirely different level.
As the name suggests, Fuze offers users high quality video conferencing technology on a wide range of platforms, operating systems, and devices.
This also includes tablets and iPads, which are often neglected or all-out excluded from the considerations in different apps and programs.
Additionally, Fuze places an emphasis on the quality of calls, ensuring that your communications have high definition audio and video components.
#5 – Dropbox
When it comes to managing, transferring, and communicating files to others, Dropbox is one of the most effective for the task.
At its core, the functionality is quite simple: you have files you want to send. Dropbox allows you to upload, store, and send them directly to others.
If you’re in the video editing industry, this will likely be an essential expense—though it’s important to note that Dropbox offers a free version with limited storage.
Still, the paid versions are relatively affordable and work well within these contexts. Additionally, there is the added benefit that they can be stored on multiple devices and are ultimately managed through a “cloud.”
If there is a need to communicate or share certain files—including music, videos, or documents—Dropbox offers a robust backbone for doing so.
While the platform itself is not a “communication” medium in the strictest sense, it does allow for added uses that are not always limited. Certainly, the ability to send information in the form of large files which can be stored and shared is something many of the other aforementioned apps cannot do.
As a method of establishing a clear line of communication with others to transfer information in the form of larger files, Dropbox is very adept. Moreover, there are several different plans you can choose from, ranging from the free version to paid and business versions.
The amount of memory you can use varies from a few gigabytes to many terabytes. Within the entire system is the ability to share files, including using a “shareable link” that is similar to how YouTube URL links work.
As an additional feature for the convenience of users, Dropbox allows you to send “file requests” to anyone using an email address. Once the person you’re requesting files from receiving the email, they can simply click a link and drag and drop the necessary files.
Once they click “send” the files are on their way to your individual Dropbox account. There is no underestimating the importance of being able to store and share information in such a streamlined way—and this is especially true for certain niche businesses.
#6 – MailChimp
Emailing has emerged over the last two decades as one of the most enduring and important forms of communication. This is true in a variety of contexts, and it is not at all limited to personal uses.
Businesses have taken on email as it is a very light, efficient, and generally free form of communication—a particular benefit for smaller businesses.
While communications can be handled through email, there is also the rise of email marketing and newsletter delivery. When it comes to communicating a newsletter, for example, you may have a catalog of people to send the information to.
MailChimp has arisen for these exact purposes, allowing you to manage and send emails in a system that is not limited in its scope and also functions through a reliable framework.
Additionally, the interface is efficient and easy to learn, especially because of how it allows you to send mass email in an automated fashion. Hundreds and even thousands of recipients can be emailed with the click of a button. In this sense, MailChimp is one of the most important communication tools for your business.
No matter what the scale happens to be, the ability to inform both employees and customers of important offers, updates, and information through email can be underestimated—or undervalued.
Apps for Finance Management
#1 – QuickBooks
As any small business learns early on, keeping close track of your financial information is not only important, but vital to its success or failure.
In consideration of so many different things that could go wrong for a startup, maintaining clear and cataloged financial information should be a top priority.
This is part of why QuickBooks has become so popular, successful, and known among small business circles.
Just about everything relating to financing is considered within the bounds of this app, including sales, sales taxes, returns, preorders, annual tax information, and so much more.
Maybe even more importantly than tracking all this information is the ability to keep it all incredibly well organized. QuickBooks uses a cutting-edge user interface that keeps things both simple and comprehensive.
Beginners will find themselves easily capable of creating new systems, inputting information, and tracking customer orders. Simultaneously, veterans of the program will be able to reap the rewards of its very robust framework to solve a number of business challenges.
One of its most effective features is its integration functionality. Not only does the app work extremely well as its own system, but the developers have also invested a great deal of energy to make sure it can integrate with other software.
Take, for example, QuickBooks’ ability to integrate with PayPal, your bank, major credit card providers, and even tax forms. Collectively, the app functions at a level of depth that is not overlooked and ignored in others.
#2 – Wave
Whereas QuickBooks can solve the financial tracking needs of even extremely large companies, Wave is designed with a simpler goal in mind.
Wave has specifically been created for very small businesses and can help you track finances for up to 9 employees. The result is a simpler, yet still robust app that can help startups where they need it most.
Additionally, you have access to critical features like invoicing, creating reports for accounting, and saving customer receipts. From a tech standpoint, this is an extremely powerful feature because it can unlock nuances that are generally overlooked. From a small business standpoint, there are generally two primary financial hurdles that pop up early on. These are receipt tracking and tax management.
Although some startups may overlook some of these financial hurdles early on, there is no denying their importance. For this reason, Wave is a great intermediary for upcoming businesses that need to keep proper track of their finances but in a simpler and more intuitive way.
#3 – FreshBooks
Invoicing can sometimes become a headache, even for small businesses. This is due, in large part, to the means used to generate them as well as how they are stored and tracked over time.
With FreshBooks, a myriad of issues are solved all at once thanks to its extremely intuitive user interface and features.
Whereas older applications and programs focused on generating countless layers of nuance and complexity, FreshBooks takes a different approach that helps keep businesses and freelancers in order.
Specifically, this app works for simple tracking of invoices, utilizing automation features as a primary method for simplifying the process.
If, for example, you have recurring clients or payments, these can be set up for automatic renewal at different intervals—whatever your specific requirements are. Sometimes, a monthly renewal works best while, in other cases, it is preferable to keep things set on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
In either case, FreshBooks has a simplified interface that can also be utilized on both smartphones and personal computers. Even the ability to create reports for a wide range of financial data can come in extremely handy.
Apps for Managing Time
#1 – Tripit
Efficiency is everything for small businesses. With limited capital and sales, saving money is often a make-or-break situation for startups.
Since time is money, the ability to properly manage time can ultimately bring great opportunities for businesses when they need it most. This could include extra time to generate financial reports for the month or simply for executing operational tasks.
One popular app for managing time is TripIt. If you’re constantly traveling for business meetings or for meeting clients, this app will alleviate some of the headaches by creating one itinerary for all your trips.
Most people can relate to the time-consuming challenges of travel, be it by car or by plane. In either case, there can be a number of issues that arise and keeping the entire process organized can be troubling.
With TripIt, the whole itinerary is stored and processed in a more uniform and centralized manner. This results in a system that is clearer, requires less fumbling through multiple apps and sources and keeps your whole process more streamlined.
Everything from when your flights depart to the arising of any delays is kept in clear order in the app. Additionally, one of the best features is that the information can be linked to the company you purchased your airline ticket from.
All you need to do is send the emails you receive from vendors to TripIt and the app automatically handles everything else. It’s a truly streamlined approach that manages your time in a way that few others can match up to.
Even more, TripIt utilizes a very simple layout, which is of course essential for minimizing the headaches associated with the process. Without overburdening the interface, there is a proper balance so that all the tasks and schedules are arranged orderly.
#2 – My Minutes
As the name suggests, time is of the essence with My Minutes.
If time is money, then every minute counts. In the age of smartphone applications, there have been more and more attempts by different developers to create apps that assist with time management.
While many have fallen short of creating something truly effective, My Minutes has offered users an unprecedented experience.
At its core, My Minutes is about time management without the “management” part. It simplifies your day and the schedule so that you can keep focused and avoid excessive distractions.
One example would be limiting how much time you spend browsing the internet for leisure, such as scrolling through social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. My Minutes specifically sets timers and reminders which pop up and inform you when it’s time to put down the Instagram and get back to work.
Indeed, one of the most common issues arising with social media addiction is the potential to completely lose track of time, spending minutes or hours wasting time where you could be doing something much more productive.
My Minutes acts as a disciplinary tool that is effective yet not annoying. The result is a system which enhances your day by keeping you more focused and on track.
#3 – RescueTime
RescueTime is a wonderful app for keeping specific data about your daily usage. This is useful for personal reasons but obviously can have some significant professional ramifications as well.
At its core, the principle at work is one that combines the needs of individuals with the technology that surrounds them. Today, more than ever, tech has not only given people great empowerment but also plenty of opportunities to fall short.
Within the context of a small business, RescueTime works great because it can track the individual use of different applications and systems. For example, if you have the software installed on the official company devices that you or your employees use, then you can know how much time is being spent on different apps, and what the time is spent doing.
Additionally, RescueTime can generate reports for each user, detailing what they did, how long they did it for, so that actions can be taken to curb negative behavior and even reward the positive ones.
One great feature of the app is the ability to create notifications or alarms that are set off when you have reached a certain limit for the day. As a result, not only can you keep track of your activities, but you can also rest assured that you won’t be carried away by them, either.
Generating a comprehensive report has many layers of benefits as a method attaining insights about yourself and/or your business operations. You might find that the longer you use certain apps or software, the more client retention you achieve.
The amount of information you can draw from these reports might surprise you, which is another reason why RescueTime is so effective.
Apps for Receiving Payments
#1 – Square and PayPal Here
Square has taken over many sectors of the small business world as an effective means of initiating and processing payments in a more mobile environment.
While mobile payment systems have been around for quite some time, Square took many of the features to an entirely different level with the introduction of smartphone application features (which can also be utilized through tablets, iPads, and more).
At its core, if your small business needs a system in place so that you can charge clients in a streamlined fashion, then Square is the service for you.
One of its most iconic features is the inclusion of a card reader which can attach easily to numerous devices ranging from iPads to tablets and even smartphones. This will allow you to charge customers on the spot in a more mobile environment. This result is a greater level of flexibility within the bounds of your business which can allow for more intuitive customer experience. Within the restaurant and hospitality industry, for example, being able to bring the “cash register”, to the customer (instead of the other way around) can change the dynamic in a positive way.
In the same vein as Square, PayPal created their own very similar version called PayPal Here. Naturally, the inclusion of the word “Here” hints at the essential benefit of these types of systems: mobility and portability.
For PayPal, the incentives to create a competitor to Square were obvious, especially considering that some features within Square can integrate with PayPal for certain services and processes.
With PayPal Here, however, there are certain nuances that help it stand apart from its competitors. The main difference, of course, is that PayPal is one of the most powerful payment processing companies in existence. With the ability to even process credit card payments, it has the added benefit of being widely used and recognized.