Many entrepreneurs working on a business plan for a new business daydream about being their own boss. They believe that life would be easier if you could work for yourself and run your business from wherever you are using a mobile phone for most tasks.
Running your entire business from your phone without compromising features or ease of use seems like an impossibility.
However, in our increasingly fast-paced business culture, few successful business owners can operate their businesses while tethered to their office desks. Many must find ways to work while they’re away from the office.
Fortunately, small business owners are now living in a time of virtual riches. There is an abundance of productivity and business mobile apps that can help you run your business remotely. Many of these apps are free or inexpensive.
Here are ten terrific mobile apps that you should consider using in your small business.
Full Contact takes the traditional address book and builds on it, turning it into something even more useful.
After you’ve added your contacts to the service (which runs on iOS, Android, and in your web browser), the service spins into action. It ferrets out duplicate contacts and data, scours the web and social media to fill in gaps, and gathers valuable information about your contacts.
Want to be able to make a note that one of your employees is celebrating his twenty-fifth wedding anniversary next week? How about impressing a client by wishing her a happy birthday? Full Contact makes keeping those kinds of notes easy.
This information gives you a broader picture of the people you interact with and is valuable for keeping everything you might need to know about someone on hand. You can then sync that information to different services and devices, giving you a robust, centralized location for all of your contact information. You no longer need to be tied to a Rolodex or your notes at the office.
Full Contact’s basic features are available free, with affordable subscriptions unlocking advanced features like business card scanning and real-time sync.
Until recently, taking care of payroll, benefits, and other HR-related tasks from a mobile phone was challenging. This has changed with the rise of cloud-based services like Gusto, which handles much of the administrative work that traditionally required dedicated HR departments.
Small and medium-sized business owners operating without a big HR team will find Gusto invaluable. Gusto helps you to manage all kinds of administrative work, including any employee scheduling and payroll tasks. It also helps you price and manage health insurance, 401(k) plans, and other benefits.
Gusto starts at $39 per month and $6 per employee you manage with the service, so it’s a cost-effective option for maintaining administrative sanity. We love Gusto and use it at crowdspring.
Quickbooks has been around for a long time. How long? So long that its original release back in the 1980s actually ran on MS-DOS, proving itself as a staple for business owners of all kinds.
Its latest incarnation, Quickbooks Online, is a cloud-based service providing small business owners with robust accounting and cash flow management. There is even a freelance option with specific features aimed at independent workers and other self-employed consultants.
Pricing for Quickbooks starts at $10 a month for the freelance edition and scales up to $40 a month for the top-tier option. If that’s a little too pricey for you, you’ll often see 50% off specials.
There is a seemingly endless flood of apps and services out there to help you and your employees stay in contact, but Slack is one of the biggest and most beloved.
With an easy-to-use interface and playful features (I’m looking at you, Slackbot), it’s no surprise that Slack is catapulting through the charts for business owners of all kinds. Here at crowdspring, we love Slack and find it’s an especially valuable tool for our team.
A surprising variety of businesses and organizations use Slack for real-time chat, file sharing, and audio/video calls.
Slack’s feature-rich free package might be all you need, but there are also paid tiers starting at $7 a month per user. Paid features include archives of all messages, group video and audio calls, screen sharing, and more.
Staying on top of your to-do list is a challenge every small business owner knows all too well, but thanks to cloud-based apps like Todoist, organizational nirvana is not far away.
Todoist is the most well-rounded task organizer available. It boasts an impressive list of features and support for devices across more than 10 different platforms, making it accessible and functional for small business owners and big business owners alike.
Todoist helps you:
- Create tasks and assign them to specific projects,
- Create reminders based on time or location,
- Create labels to organize across projects,
- Allow for comments and file attachments on any given task,
- Delegate projects and tasks to other subscribers.
Todoist’s basic features are free to use, with a $39 yearly subscription opening up several powerful add-ons, like location-based reminders and project templates. If you need organizational hand holding – hey, did you remember where you left the keys? – Todoist might be the app you’ve been searching for.
Travel organizer app Tripcase describes itself as “a single place for all of your trips.” It provides travelers with features that make travel easier, including:
- managing itineraries,
- hotel bookings,
- rental car reservations,
- flight change notifications, and
- airport terminal and gate information.
Tripcase makes adding flights easy by creating new itineraries from forwarded flight confirmation emails. It also lets you share trips with others so they can receive notifications of trip changes. It’s available online and for iOS and Android.
The majority of Tripcase’s features are free, but access to its expense and receipt tracking feature requires a $6 yearly subscription fee. If you and your business are, well, going places, Tripcase is a good thing to pack along.
Creative software veteran Adobe recently tossed its hat into the crowded “use your phone as a scanner” ring with their release of the aptly-named Adobe Scan.
As the name suggests, Adobe Scan lets you turn photos of documents, whiteboards, and other “analog platforms” into high-quality PDFs. It also features powerful text recognition that turns your scans into searchable, selectable text and provides cloud storage for your files via their Creative Cloud product.
Business owners of all kinds can save time and energy otherwise spent hanging over a clunky scanner by expediting an otherwise tedious job. Adobe Scan is a free app and available for iOS and Android devices.
Thanks to Adobe Scan, you can have a virtual stack of scanned documents piling up in your digital workspace. This can get out of hand fast, so once you’ve scanned your documents, organize them (and lots of other file types) with Evernote.
Evernote is one of the first “everything bucket” apps. Even though there have been several high-profile competitors (including Google Keep and Microsoft’s OneNote), Evernote’s cross-platform support and reliable sync are hard to beat.
Evernote’s free tier caps monthly uploads to a total of 60MB with up to two synced devices, but yearly subscriptions starting at $47 are available if you need more.
If you were looking for other options to store your files, no list of essential apps would be complete without mentioning Dropbox. It burst onto the online scene in 2007 and hasn’t looked back, amassing over 500 million users.
Dropbox creates a special file folder on your computer that syncs those files across any number of devices, making your files available wherever you are. It has apps available for most major platforms, including iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, and more.
Dropbox is among the simplest and most elegant cloud storage and file-syncing services. It gives you access to your files from nearly anywhere. You can install Dropbox on virtually any computer or mobile device. Dozens of apps integrate easily with Dropbox, too, making it highly versatile.
Dropbox’s free plan gives you 5 GB of storage to work with, which you can increase up to 16 GB by referring people to the service. Their “plus” tier raises that to 1 TB for $10 a month, and there are additional team and business plans available as well. We love Dropbox and use it at crowdSPRING.
Think of IFTTT (short for “If this, then that”) as a magical connector for your apps and services. As the name implies, it allows you to connect your services by doing “that” when “this” occurs.
Confused? Here’s an example: You can create an applet (a tiny application performing one or a few simple functions) that automatically saves any images you upload to Evernote straight to your Dropbox account. You can set your home lighting system to turn off once you get to work. Did you recently publish a new WordPress blog post? Set it up so that IFTTT tweets it for you, pushing traffic to your site. The possibilities aren’t endless, but they are pretty long.
IFTTT is a compelling service that is surprisingly easy to use, with hundreds of pre-made recipes to choose from. IFTTT is free to use and available online, with clients for iOS and Android.
Running a business can be overwhelming.
Using available technology to make your business run smoothly and efficiently can make an otherwise stressful prospect into something well organized and functional.
With so many useful and low-cost services available to help you, there has never been a better time to be a business owner.
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