Running a small business can be incredibly stressful. There are dozens of tasks you need to do each day and an endless list of things to remember. If you're not organized, you could quickly get overwhelmed with everything you need to do. Fret not, though: Numerous apps for small businesses can help you with finances, communication, time management, mobile payment, inventory, and general organization. Some of the best of these apps are listed below.
Finance applications for small businesses
Mint is an app you can use in your personal life or your professional career. It is a simple budgeting app that is part of the QuickBooks ® family of products. This tool is ideal for small business owners who need to see their expenses broken down by category and within line items so they can stay on budget.
Each month, aim to set a goal for how much you need to spend to stay profitable. Then, add static expenses, such as rent or internet, that remain the same each month. Finally, you can estimate dynamic expenses such as payroll, utilities, and inventory based on the demand you expect that month. You can sync your credit cards and even your bank accounts to automatically record the expenses for easy management.
2. Goodbudget ®
With Goodbudget, you can split your business spending into categories called “envelopes” and set maximum monthly values for each. You can then keep pulling from these envelopes until you run out of money. In this way, Goodbudget resembles a budget planner, whereas Mint is more of a budget tracker.
Goodbudget also allows you to sync and share your envelopes with other users, meaning your whole team can pull from the same budget. You’ll also get access to tools you can use to save for upcoming business purchases and debt payments. With Goodbudget, you can be proactive, not reactive, about your spending.
Accounting software applications for small business
3 . QuickBooks®
QuickBooks is another financial app for your business. Through QuickBooks, you can issue payroll to your team members, track your taxes, and handle your company's books. Companies of all sizes work with QuickBooks, which means you can use it to scale your small business when the time comes.
QuickBooks offers a certification process so you can become an expert in its tools and improve your financial acumen. Even if you don't have an accounting background, knowing your numbers can help you make strategic business decisions.
If you want to outsource your accounting, look for professionals who are QuickBooks-certified who can use your tools. Here are some more payroll tools to look into for your small business:
4 . Expensify®
Expensify is a more advanced budgeting app that you can use to understand a project's various costs. This tool offers unlimited receipt scanning, so your employees can scan their own expenses (such as travel costs and per diem) or expenses related to company events. Expensify also has corporate card reconciliation that aligns the expenses from the uploaded receipts with the card charges.
One of the main benefits of using this option is its next-day reimbursement. This way you won't owe your employees for their expenses and can automatically repay them as long as you approve the charges. If multiple people on your team are making charges on behalf of the company, consider using this tool.
Communications applications for small businesses
5 . Slack®
Slack has become one of the most popular communication tools used by small businesses. It stands above other business apps because of its multiple channels and organized threads. For example, within your small business, you could have one communication channel where you just talk about marketing. All of your ideas about marketing will be in one place, and the only people who have access to the channel are marketing staff. Some companies have dozens of channels to keep the discussion focused on their business operations.
Test out this tool with a few employees, and then expand it to the rest of your staff. It can also improve communication if you work with remote employees or outside contractors who aren't in the office.
The COVID-19 pandemic turned Zoom into the default videoconferencing tool for small businesses, and it’s clear that Zoom is here to stay. Zoom is one of the easiest ways to gather dozens of team members for unlimited periods, and Zoom’s social media streaming and cloud recording tools are great bonuses. Higher-tier plans come with automatic transcripts of your recorded video conferences, making meeting notes that much easier to compile.
Time management applications for small businesses
7 . RescueTime®
There are many apps for business that you can use to track your time, but RescueTime is one of the most highly recommended. With this tool, you can track what you work on throughout the day without having to record it. Automatic time tracking will show you how long you spend checking email each day, how much of your day you waste on social media, and which projects are going over the planned time frame.
With this clear data, you can set goals to waste less time and get more done. Small steps, such as only checking your email a few times per day or staying off Twitter ® , can add up and create real progress in your time management.
Todoist builds from the common foundation of project management apps to provide uniquely proactive time management tools. The app is engineered to surface whichever tasks are most pressing at a given moment, tremendously enhancing your time management. You can also delegate tasks to other people if you find yourself in a time bind. Plus, with productivity visualizations, you’ll easily know which tasks you should prioritize in a pinch.
Mobile payment applications for small businesses
Square is among the mobile payment apps that also double as point-of-sale platforms. It comes with card reader hardware that converts your smartphone or tablet – onto which you’ll install Square’s mobile app – into a cash register. You’ll find yourself easily able to accept payments from your mobile device and forgo the challenges of installing unfamiliar, complicated machinery. To top it all off, Square has tools for building e-commerce websites that bolster your sales and automate your inventory management.
10. PayPal Here®
PayPal Here is PayPal’s equivalent to Square. Through the combination of PayPal’s affordable card readers and free mobile app, you can turn any device into a payment station. You can use PayPal Here for customer checkout at your brick-and-mortar store, get hungry patrons their takeout, or anything else sales-related. Plus, if you already have a business PayPal® account, refunding your customers if necessary just requires access to your phone.
Organization and project management applications for small businesses
11 . Evernote®
If you're looking to jot your notes down more often, so you don't forget small tasks or ideas, then play with Evernote. With this tool, you can share meeting notes with attendees, organize your thoughts under specific categories, and link media to your notes for extra information. You can use Evernote on your work computer, personal device, or smartphone, with information that syncs up in one place. This means if you jot down a note during a meeting on your tablet, you can pull it up later when you're back at your desk.
Evernote is a useful tool if you find yourself writing down notes on scraps of paper or in email drafts throughout the day but don't have a unified source for all your ideas. You can forget fewer ideas and have less chance of missing something important.
12 . Trello®
Trello is a task management tool you can use within your teams. You can create different boards that focus on different tasks and assign those tasks to others. You can also create workflows within Trello to understand where each task is in the completion process. Trello allows you to upload documents and mark certain items as complete. For example, if you need to review marketing designs for the website, your web designer can upload a framework on Trello and assign the task to you to review it.
These tools help you manage business operations easier because you don't have to check in on your employees constantly. Instead of asking about a task and distracting both you and your employee, you can glance at Trello and know what needs to get done.
Inventory management applications for small businesses
13 . Sortly®
If you plan to operate a product-based business or sell products at your service-based business (for example, a hair salon selling shampoo), then you might want to find an inventory management app. Tools like Sortly can tell you how much inventory you have and will adjust the numbers with each sale. This system is highly visual and offers a clean interface, turning an otherwise confusing process into an easy one.
Inventory management is also important if your employees check out resources for your company. For example, you can track your fleet of work vehicles and see which employees have them on specific times and dates. This helps to prevent double-bookings from your staff.
14. Zoho® Inventory
Zoho streamlines your small business’s item grouping and bundling while giving you tools to manage multiple warehouses. You’ll also get features that help you maintain your customer lifecycle and vendor relations. Zoho couples these nifty features with numerous integrations and automation tools to make your inventory management completely seamless. Plus, with Zoho’s highly flexible reporting tool, you can see for yourself just how much return you’re getting on your inventory management app.
Sales applications for small businesses
15 . Streak®
If you are operating a lead-based business, then consider investing in a content management tool to track each completed contact form or email that comes in. Streak can do just that. You can sort your leads and track which ones you have already followed up with or pitched to.
You can also track your lead completion and conversion rates to see how effective various promotions are.
This tool will be particularly valuable if you plan to hire sales staff for your business or want to improve your marketing efforts. You can see which marketing sources drive leads and which salespeople turn the most leads into customers.
Streak can also help your sales team work better together. You can save frequently used email templates and share them with others on your team. This way, you don't need to draft a new message for every lead.
Salesforce has long been the most prominent customer relationship management (CRM) tool in virtually every industry. Its cloud-based platform for lead and customer data storage makes accessing all the info you need a total breeze. During sales calls or other interactions, just open the appropriate customer file and enjoy how neatly all the relevant data is organized. Keep referencing it during your phone call, and you just might make that sale you’ve long sought.
What should you look for in applications for small businesses?
Small business owners like yourself should look for these features when selecting apps that can help you manage your business:
- Affordability. The convenience and efficiency that accompany small business apps shouldn’t break the bank. Yes, you should expect to spend money on your apps, but not so much that you go over budget. Plus, some of the best business apps have free tiers that, though designed for introductory use, may be sufficient enough to meet your needs.
- No binding contracts. Even a large amount of praise for a small business app doesn’t guarantee you’ll like it. The thing is, if you’re contractually bound to an app you wind up not liking, you’re stuck paying for something you won’t even use. Look for apps that don’t force you into a lengthy commitment.
- Free trials. Related to the binding contract, you may want to try an app before you make a commitment. Many apps offer free trials that will let you play around with its features and ensure that the service is the best fit for your company.
- User-friendliness. If your new app offers excellent features but you can’t figure out how to use them, you’re back at square one. To avoid hitting this snag, make sure that customer reviews praise the platform for its ease of use. This way, you’re not stuck trying to navigate a system that’s more confusing than your old ways of working.
- Scalability. An app that only has the bandwidth for 10 users won’t be of much use as your company grows. The best small business apps, though, are tailored to grow with your company. Even if you start with the small introductory tier, you can gradually transition into custom enterprise solutions over time.
- Customer service. Inevitably, you’ll have questions about how to use the app. In those moments, a slow reply from an email contact won’t help. Go with a provider that offers thorough access to a readily available customer service phone line. With this access, you can solve problems in minutes rather than hours.
- Cloud-based. The number of employees working remotely was already growing before the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, social distancing measures rapidly accelerated this growth. Amid this rapid growth, small business owners whose technology and apps were available solely in their offices were caught off guard. Cloud-based apps help to solve this problem. You and your team can access them anytime, anywhere. These apps also update in real-time to ensure informational accuracy and streamlined workflows.
- Immediate, substantial return on investment. Sure, many small business apps aren’t super expensive, but they do often cost some amount of money. And whenever you spend money, you need to make sure you’re earning your dollar’s worth. Ask yourself, how much more money can my company earn after implementing this app? When will these returns appear? How do these returns compare to the cost? Only with the answers to these questions will you know for sure that the app is worth buying.
More Apps Your Business Can Use
There are other apps besides the ones on this list that you can use for your business operations. Each one falls into a certain category and has its own unique features. A few categories to consider (and apps that relate to them) include:
- Business Financial Health tool like SmartBiz ® Advisor
- Budgeting apps such as Wally® , Spendee, and Lasting Bond®
- Communication apps like Addappt® , Pushover® , and Skype®
- Project management apps such as Basecamp® and Asana®
- Social media apps like Hootsuite® and Buffer®
The right app organization can help you take back your time and make seemingly impossible tasks (like your finances) much easier. These are a few popular business applications, but there are dozens to choose from. Test a few of these apps to see which ones you want to use and which ones are right for other companies even if they don't work for yours.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The SmartBiz® Small Business Blog and other related communications from SmartBiz Loans® are intended to provide general information on relevant topics for managing small businesses. Be aware that this is not a comprehensive analysis of the subject matter covered and is not intended to provide specific recommendations to you or your business with respect to the matters addressed. Please consult legal and financial processionals for further information.