5 Go-To Apps for Small Business

How to choose the best apps for your business

Best apps for small business

Managing a small business is hard work and with the endless supply of business apps out there, the prospect of choosing the right technology can be daunting.

To help navigate you through the multitude of apps, we have compiled a list of 5 easy to use, time saving apps.

  1. Hootsuite – Social Media

Hootsuite is the most widely used platform for managing multiple social media accounts. The app manages all of your business social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube) all from the one easy to use interface.

The app allows you to write, post, send, schedule and track posts across your different accounts from the one screen. This makes it much easier to keep track of all your social media accounts.

The second great feature of Hootsuite is its social media monitoring tool, as well as monitoring what people are posting to your various accounts, you can also monitor what they are saying about your brand. You can search your business name or any key phrases specifically associated with your brand and see a stream of mentions – whether they are directed at your brand specifically or not.

This is a great tool for smaller businesses who have a unique business name.

Another benefit of Hootsuite is the ability to create customised analytics and automates scheduled reports (be careful, this can cost money).

Hootsuite is available over 3 plans.

  • The free version limits you to 3 social media profiles and basic analytic reports. This is a great way to test the waters and see if Hootsuite is right for you and also for small businesses who don’t have a lot of social media profiles)
  • The pro version costs around $10 per month and gives you access to premium apps, enhances analytics reports, up to 50 social profiles

Pros

  • Web based so you don’t need to download any software
  • Simple to use
  • You can add team members (great for small businesses or start ups with tech savvy family members)
  • Weekly analytics reports for free
  • You can store FAQs in your drafts so when a potential customer asks a common question such as ‘Where are you located?’ Hootsuite will reply instantly with your saved answer!
  • Hootsuite is compatible with all web browsers and also has a mobile app for Iphone, Ipad, Blackberry and Android.

Cons

  • Watch out for hidden costs, some reports cost ‘points’ which cost money (sometimes up to $60), it ultimately comes down to what you and your business require.

 

  1. PayPal – Online Payment

When it comes to online payments, PayPal is a popular option. PayPal takes around 15 minutes to set up and has the option of tracking your business inventory and profits as well. The costs are minimal. There is no setup fee, monthly fee or minimum to use PayPal, instead you pay a small fee per transaction. For businesses with less than $3000 in monthly sales the fee is 2.9% plus 30c per transaction. This evens out to be $6.20 for a $200 sale. This cost per transaction decreases with a higher volume of monthly sales.

PayPal has complimentary seller protection coverage and every transaction receives 128-bit encryption fraud screening – in layman’s terms, it has high security in place..

Pros

  • Web based so you don’t need to download any software.
  • A lot of bang for a little buck
  • Convenience
  • PayPal is compatible with all web browsers and also has a mobile app for Iphone, Ipad, Blackberry and Android.

Cons

  • PayPal can freeze your account at any time when it detects fraudulent activities or unlawful behaviour. PayPal rarely freezes legitimate accounts by accident, if they do, the mistake is normally fixed within a few days.
  1. QuickBooks Online – Accounting

QuickBooks handles accounting, billing and invoicing all from the one spot. It’s user friendly and has a lot of powerful tools including time tracking, reporting, inventory, contacts, sales, tax and accounts payable.

QuickBooks is all about automating tasks, making accounting less time consuming and tedious for the already busy business owner.

QuickBooks can connect to your online bank accounts and PayPal, streamlining your data in real time. This makes for effortless tracking of the comings and goings of you business. They also offer both phone and chat support which you can access via their website.

QuickBooks comes in three plans.

  • The basic version of QuickBooks is around $13 a month which includes the ability to make invoices, estimates and reconcile bank transactions but is limited to one user and up to two accountants.
  • The essential version is around $27 a month that adds the accounts payable function and lets 3 users access the accounts.
  • The Plus version is about $40 a month and allows up to five users and includes the support for inventory monitoring.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Connects with Online Banking and PayPal
  • QuickBooks is compatible with all web browsers and also has a mobile app for Iphone, Ipad, Blackberry and Android.

Cons

  • The mobile app (Iphone, Ipad and Android devises) lacks features, the computer version is definitely the way to go to get the most out of the app.
  1. Evernote – Organisation

When it comes to note taking and organising information, Evernote is an essential tool.

What makes Evernote so useful is its flexibility. You can use it as a daily diary, audio record meetings, recipes, to do lists, notes, photos and access it anywhere that has an Internet connection. Evernote’s checklist tool is especially useful for small retail and hospitality businesses. It allows the owner to make checklists accessible to all staff, and monitor the progress from home throughout the day.

Evernote uses manually added tags as well as geotags, which makes it easy to locate notes from a business trip or minutes from advertising meetings. Evernote also allows you to chat and collaborate with your colleagues in real time about shared files.

The key to Evernote is committing to it and diving in headfirst, the app really starts to reveal its organisational nirvana when you start utilising all the tools.

Evernote is available in a free version, a paid version, a business version and a premium version.

  • The free version is limited to 60MB of data per month
  • The paid version costs about $25 a month and increases your upload limit to 1GB per month.
  • The business version offers a free 30 day trial, after that it costs $12 a month for up to 25 users and offers 2GB of data per month.
  • The premium version is $45 per year and gives you 10GB per month as well as the ability to mark up pdfs, scan and digitise business cards and view previous versions of notes and more.

Pros

  • Evernote’s minimalist design makes it very easy to follow.
  • Compatible with all web browsers and also has a mobile app or Iphone, Ipad, Blackberry and Android.
  • Evernote’s Learning centre gives you great guidelines for getting started, tutorials and troubleshooting.

Cons

  • Evernote’s model of ‘everything in the one place’ can be overwhelming for some.

 

  1. RescueTime ­– Time management

Its Wednesday morning, you sit down ready for a hard day of work and before you know it, it’s 3pm and all you have to show for it is two draft emails. Where does the time go?

RescueTime is a great new app that monitors your online activity to help you be more efficient and productive. It records how much time you spend on certain programs and certain websites.

At the end of the day you can assess how well you used your time and what you can improve on. The great thing about RescueTime is it requires barely any time to set up and it holds you accountable for your procrastination.

RescueTime breaks up your day’s activities into different categories and displays them on a graph. It also displays time reports which breaks down your efficiently and set goals for your productivity.

RescueTime is available in a free version and a premium version

  • The free version has all the basic features
  • The premium version costs about $9 a month and blocks websites and alerts you when you have been spending a lot of time on a certain activity.

Pros

  • Very simple and easy to use
  • Works across multiple devices
  • Proves a detailed breakdown of how you use your time, and how to improve your time management.
  • RescueTime is compatible with all web browsers and also has a mobile app for Iphone, Ipad, Blackberry and Android.

Cons

  • Requires a bit of tweaking in terms of how RescueTime categorises your activities (RescueTime has a category called ‘Communication’ you might want to break this down into emails/instant messaging).

Go ahead and give these apps a try, but remember ultimately it’s what works for you and your business.

Don’t forget to check our our premium business resources.

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Elizabeth Delaney

I love turning my knowledge into real world strategies for real world people. I'm a huge advocate for small business. l want to help you work smarter, not harder, so you have time to focus on what is important to you.