Whether you are an entrepreneur, a freelancer or a small business owner, there are certain resources that you will lack in comparison to large corporations, such as time, money and personnel.
As a result, effectively managing all your business functions and processes can be quite tricky. Accounting, operations, sales and marketing are all examples of areas where you need to be in the know, but without an array of department heads to report back to you, how can you stay on top of everything?
The Best Apps for Small Business Owners
Luckily, thousands of desktop and mobile applications have been designed to do just that. To help you narrow them down, we've compiled a list of the top solutions for busy entrepreneurs, and how they can provide a helping hand in each aspect of your business.
Accounting is a vital part of operational business management, and can be tricky to stay on top of without a dedicated accountant or bookkeeper. Luckily, there are several high-profile, reliable tools that you can adopt to ensure that you're keeping track of your transactions:
QuickBooks is a cloud-based accounting application used to keep your business financials in order and on track. With QuickBooks, you can maintain a complete record of your business expenses and taxes, create professional invoices and sales receipts, schedule payments, track stock, and, through customisable reports, get a bird' s-eye view of the overall financial performance of your business.
The application is available for computers and iOS and Android mobile devices. It comes in three different packages that meet various requirements in terms of your business size as well as the type and volume of its operations. Pricing ranges from $14/month to $31/month.
Wave is easy-to-use accounting software, and it is suitable for small businesses with few employees, entrepreneurs, and consultants. Wave allows you to keep your finances simple and professional. It provides tools that help companies track cash flow, manage payments, scan receipts and finally develop and present accounting reports that help give a clear business financial depiction, thus keeping you up to date.
Wave is compatible with both iOS and Android devices and, conveniently, is offered for free.
Alternatively, if you're not happy with these programmes, or you want to explore your accounting app options further, we've compiled a whole list of dedicated software tools designed specifically for your money management needs.
It can also be difficult to coordinate your activities and, increasingly, as virtual teams rise in prominence, your people. Slack and Evernote are too hugely popular solutions that enable you to be flexible:
Described as an online collaboration hub due to its unique way of communicating and sharing, Slack can be the software you need to improve communication and collaboration between your team and better manage your projects. It can integrate with a variety of other widely used apps, too, such as Gmail, OneDrive, Asana and Trello, making it easier to use and more adaptable to your business needs.
It is compatible with both iOS and Android devices and has a desktop version available. Pricing starts at $6.67/user/month for the 'Standard' version, or $12.50/user/month for the 'Plus' version. Better still; a free version is available for small teams.
If you are an entrepreneur working alone or a small business owner, Evernote is for you. With Evernote, you can easily manage your time by creating a daily schedule, as well as managing projects, sharing documents, communicating and collaborating within teams. Furthermore, similar to Slack, Evernote can integrate with other apps you might use that allow better organisation of your time and tasks.
It can be used on either iOS or Android devices as well as on desktop. There are currently three plans on offer: 'Basic' (free), 'Premium' ($7.99/month), and 'Business' ($14.99/user/month).
For Time and Task Management...
Time management is another vital part of day-to-day business management. If you're struggling to stay on top of your hours then things can soon start to spiral out of control, which is why a dedicated app can be a game-changer:
Sometimes, we spend too much time on things that aren't that important, while on other occasions, we have no clue how much time we need to complete a task. RescueTime is an app that runs while you use your computer or mobile device and tracks the time you spend on them. It is a valuable tool in helping you realise how much time you spend or need for specific activities, allowing you to manage your time better and plan your day. Premium features include blocking distracting sites, tracking offline activities, setting goals, alerts and notifications.
RescueTime Lite is available for free while the 'Premium' package with extended features is priced at $9/month. The app is available for iOS or Android mobile devices as well as desktop versions.
Toggl is similar to RescueTime with many comparable features. Toggl tracks the time you spend on specific activities and can provide you with in-depth time and activity tracking data. It also includes a handy billable hours/rates feature, especially convenient for billing by time and evaluating your rates. You can also use Toggl to track and manage your workforce's productivity. The app is available on both iOS and Android devices as well as desktops.
The app is available with a basic free version, a $9/user/month 'Starter' version, an $18/user/month 'Premium' package and a customisable 'Enterprise' plan with pricing depending on selected features.
Alternatively, take a look at our comprehensive overview of the best time management apps currently on the market.
For Human Resource Management...
If you don't have a HR structure in place, but you also don't want to outsource to a costly provider, then there are numerous digital alternatives that can assist and support you:
GoCo.io is an all-in-one HR application that enables you to automate HR practices and better manage the growing needs of your workforce, including onboarding, taxes, benefits, contracts, and leave. This cloud-based platform takes care of the paperwork so you can focus on the people and business, complying with recordkeeping standards and syncing seamlessly with existing payroll software.
The software and app are available across devices, and the 'Basic' HR plan is entirely free, while the 'Premium' HR plan with unlimited customisations and access to premium add-ons starts at $99/month (plus $5/month/employee).
Through Humanity, every business can customise its schedule based on its needs, and set up employee shifts accordingly. Employees can choose shifts or request time off, while management has access to a real-time visual of labour costs and working patterns. Humanity can also integrate with other HCM applications and offer a more comprehensive HR solution.
The Humanity platform is available across all devices, including mobile, and provides an API for seamless integration. Prices for the Starter Package start at $2/user/month and $4/user/month for the 'Classic' package (with an $80 minimum cost). An additional 'Enterprise' package is available for larger businesses with custom pricing.
For Customer Relationship Management...
If you want to build in-depth relationships with your existing and potential customers, then you need a system in place that enables visibility, efficiency and automation:
Soft1 Cloud CRM Series 5
Soft1 Cloud CRM Series 5 is an all in one SaaS CRM platform that arms you with a variety of marketing tools to better understand and serve your customers. It provides detailed information about your customers' needs and behaviour, improving your visibility in relation to your target audience and helping to improve sales, customer service and support. The information available enables the efficient and effective streamlining of orders, payments, leads and sales opportunities.
Using the Microsoft Windows Azure platform, Soft1 Series 5 CRM can be used across multiple devices, with pricing for CRM Express starting at $38/user/month and CRM Business with advanced functionality at $84/user/month.
Ontraport is a powerful tool offering a range of solutions to help manage and increase sales funnels and online customer interaction. It allows companies to manage their client base, get a broadly analysed visualisation of the customer journey, use marketing tools to drive sales, automate processes and keep track of memberships and referrals. Such data is a powerful instrument when building Digital Marketing Campaigns.
The platform is available across devices with four packages depending on the size and needs of a business. Pricing is monthly; 'Basic' starts at $79, 'Plus' at $147, 'Pro' at $297 and 'Enterprise' at $497.
For Social Media Management...
Social media is a core element of every brand's online presence in the modern era. To stay on top of your posting schedule, and understand the behaviour and analytics of your followers, a reliable social media management app is crucial:
Buffer a social media management platform that helps startup founders, entrepreneurs and business owners develop their media presence and strategy, automate posts at predefined times and to specific target audiences and respond to social conversations, all within the platform's interface. It also provides insights through analytics reports on what works best in visibility and engaging your audience.
It is compatible across multiple devices and operating systems, with pricing dependent upon the components you select. The full suite is available via a consultation with a dedicated account manager with prices available upon request.
Complementary to the many social media management tools available, Buzzsumo takes your content game to another level, arming you with incredible tools to use to develop content, social media strategy, automate analytics reports to improve engagement and help understand trends. Furthermore, BuzzSumo can help analyse and compare your performance to that of the competition, identify trends that you need to address and connect you to the appropriate influencers to further promote your business.
Monthly pricing starts at $99 for the 'Pro' package, $179 for 'Plus', $299 for 'Large' and upwards of $499 for the 'Enterprise' custom plan, and is available with API integration across devices and online.
For Password Management...
This is another overlooked aspect of day-to-day management, particularly if you have accounts with numerous software providers and need to securely manage your internal systems:
1Password not only keeps a record of all your passwords but also keeps them secure. It can easily be integrated with the browser you use so that you can automatically log on to your accounts. It makes life much easier since the only password you need to remember is the one you have for 1Password. Not only that, with 1Password, you can safely store additional information, such as bank numbers, credit cards and documents.
It can be used on both iOS and Android devices and desktop. 1Password offers packages for both personal and business use, starting at $2.99/month for personal use and $4.99/month for family, and three packages for business use, starting at $3.99/user/month to $7.99/user/month for the custom 'Enterprise' package with a custom quote.
LastPass works in a very similar way to 1Password, providing high security for your passwords, account numbers, credit cards and documents. Through this application, you can also securely share information with others.
LastPass can integrate with your browser and is compatible with iOS and Android devices. There are several packages for personal and business use with price ranging from $36/year/user to $96/year/user, with the most basic personal package offered for free.
For Stress Relief...
It goes without saying that life as an entrepreneur is hectic and unforgiving. Therefore, keeping a handle on your stress levels is crucial:
Headspace is your 'personal meditation guide', helping you deal with high stress and anxiety and assist in improving your focus and sleep. The app is available for both iOS or Android devices and is offered for free while you may purchase additional features as you go.
Sanvello, formerly known as Pacifica, is another app to help you deal with several personal issues such as stress, anxiety and depression. It offers a variety of in-app resources and tools in the free basic version, while the 'Premium' version at $8.99/month provides additional features and a complete content library and tools. It is available for both iOS and Android devices.
The variety and functionality of available apps for each aspect of your business needs grows and improves at a fast pace, and new apps and software are continually developed to address new and changing needs. The important thing here is to be able to choose the one which meets your own business' requirements and needs.
Remember what industry you are operating in, where you stand in the market, which target group you serve and last but not least which one of those apps could bring the most value to your business and benefits to you on all levels.
What business apps would you recommend? Let us know in the comments below..