Most business owners say that they lack time to get everything done.
This is especially true if your job involves travel. Travel puts extra pressure on our ability to deal with email, meet with our teams, review deliverables, etc. It doesn’t help that we rarely have access to the technology and tools that help us stay productive when we’re away from the office.
The truth is that the ability to run your business from anywhere, at any time, can substantially boost your productivity.
Five years ago, this kind of freedom came at a cost. Mobile apps were often “lite” versions of desktop applications and lacked critical features that would allow business owners to be fully untethered from the office.
A lot has changed in five years.
Cloud-based applications (aka “software as a service,” or SAAS) are widely available and cover most of the needs of business owners, with very few compromises. Toss in readily available, high-speed mobile Internet, and you have the perfect mix of access and apps to make any small business owner fully mobile.
To help turn your phone into a powerful business tool, we’ve gathered some popular, valuable apps and services that can make running your business on the go a reality.
The days of paper schedules or wrangling with online calendars or spreadsheets are over: cloud scheduling services are plentiful, and many offer robust mobile support. Some cater to the needs of specific industries (e.g., food and hospitality, consultant services, and house call services), and some target shift workers.
Here are a few popular scheduling apps:
Finding and hiring new staff can be fast-paced, complicated, and messy.
Not only do you have to keep track of who has applied, but also where you both are in the application process and who your top candidates might be. Not having an effective recruitment workflow and being unresponsive to your candidates in a timely fashion may mean you’ll lose out on hiring great talent.
There are many excellent options out there to make recruiting easier for everyone involved. These apps have extensive mobile support and will make the hiring process much easier. Check out:
- Jobvite – Operating since 2006, with native iOS and Android and powerful social media recruitment tools,
- Greenhouse – A full-featured recruitment app with employee lifecycle management support, and
- Recruitee – A collaborative system with built-in customer relationship management, background screening, and more.
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When it comes to file-sharing and storage, the choices are innumerable: Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, SpiderOak, Google Drive, and more. But what happens if the file you need isn’t in the cloud? What if it’s sitting on your computer, unhelpfully languishing back at your office?
Remote access apps give you just that: the ability to access your computer or network remotely. There are several services available with a broad mix of features. Some make your office-bound files available remotely, while others give you full access to your entire computer.
The importance of faxing has decreased significantly as technologies like digital signatures and mobile phone scanning apps have caught on. Still, every once in a while, only fax will do.
Many VoIP providers include fax capability as part of their service. If you currently use a VoIP phone system for small business, it’s worth checking with your provider to see what’s available. If you don’t use VoIP, you can still sign up with a VoIP provider that offers faxing.
Many dedicated fax services include mobile access. Some only let you send faxes, while some send and receive.
- eFax – The oldest online fax service. 24/7 customer service, with a decent mobile app,
- HelloFax – A simple, intuitive interface and a free option that allows five pages free a month,
- MyFax – A well-rounded service with native mobile apps and a 30-day free trial, and
- RingCentral Fax – A cost-effective solution from one of the biggest cloud phone providers.
If you need more options, FaxCompare has an extensive collection of fax provider reviews, how-tos, and other information.
Finance and accounting apps benefit significantly from the general public’s acceptance of SAAS. Options are plentiful, and many apps boast extensive feature sets and third-party integrations. Both the power and flexibility of cloud-based solutions have made them quite attractive to small business owners.
Whether you need a full-fledged accounting system for a large business, a solo consultancy, or more specific requirements like expense tracking, there’s an app for you.
- Intuit Quickbooks Online – This software veteran has a raft of products with broad mobile support and financial institution support,
- Xero – A close competitor to Quickbooks, Xero has an impressive list of features and support for iOS and Android, and
- Wave – Wave has accounting, invoicing, expense tracking apps, mobile support, and is free to use. The company makes money from credit card processing fees and premium services.
Tracking and filing expenses can be a real chore. Fortunately, an abundance of mobile-friendly services is available to make it less painful for you (and your employees).
Many cloud-based accounting services offer receipt and expense tracking. There are also dedicated options for anyone who may not need a complete solution.
- Expensify – Cheekily boasting “to make expense reports not suck;” their mobile support and third-party integrations go a long way to making that a reality,
- Shoeboxed – You can go paperless with this service, which integrates a mobile app for scanning on the go. It includes the option to mail in paper receipts and have them scanned and added automatically, and
- Receipt Bank – Another option with similar features to Shoeboxed, including mail-in physical receipts.
Running payroll from wherever you are is now possible, thanks to payroll service companies adding mobile support. Payroll services used to be quite expensive, but increases in competition and advances in cloud applications have brought prices down.
- ADP – One of the largest managed payroll services offers mobile support, powerful HR tools, and a well-established brand,
- Intuit Payroll – Intuit’s good reputation extends to its payroll solution, which has extensive integration with the rest of Intuit’s products as well as mobile access, and
- Paychex – Another well-known company that, like ADP, offers HR services, retirement planning, and other features.
- Gusto – a company we use and like at crowdspring. Very popular with startups and small businesses.
It’s a well-documented fact that great customer service will make or break your business. Being able to answer customer questions quickly and respond to any issues they are experiencing effectively will make the difference between a positive customer experience and a frustrating one.
Luckily, customer support services are just as mobile as the customers they support. Here are some excellent apps to help you serve your customers on the go:
- Zendesk – This app offers a mature suite of support products with extensive third-party integration (we use Zendesk at crowdspring),
- Desk – A part of Safesforce, Desk is deeply integrated with the renowned customer management system and boasts excellent social media integration, and
- Freshdesk – This is another option with comparable features to Zendesk and Desk, but with a different approach to workflow. There are native iOS and Android apps available.
Find the right solution
We’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s available in any of these categories. Small business owners are not suffering from choice regarding services and apps that let you work from anywhere. The options can be overwhelming, and choosing a solution can be a challenge.
Fortunately, some sites aim to catalog the vast number of SAAS options available and help business owners narrow the field. In addition to feature lists and pricing, many of these sites also have user-submitted reviews and comments to help owners find the service that best fits their needs.
If you’re still searching for the right solution for your business, spend a little time and look through some of these sites. There’s a good chance you’ll find just the thing to help you keep your business humming along, no matter where you are.
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