Gone are the days where running a small business was just about writing up receipts, reconciling the book work, and placing an advertisement in the newspaper. These days business is all about the technology, enabling entrepreneurs to reach more people, file the prerequisite paperwork and account for staff.
But while the demands on the business owner may be higher, so is the level of business support available, with a host of technology dedicated to taking the legwork out of managing an enterprise. Here are five great apps for small business.
Let's be honest, at the end of the day business is all about the dollar earned, and accounting software is imperative to tracking the finances. It's a realm headed up by the big players like Intuit QuickBooks Online, but apps like Xero are also up and comers in this field.
QuickBooks Online operates across the entire gamut of business, from online merchants to retailers, restaurants and service providers. Features can be scaled and customized to suit business needs but include financial reporting, income and expense tracking, and automated tasks like recurring invoicing, and data syncing with bank and credit cards. QuickBooks also integrates with over 150 third-party apps to incorporate features like CRM, time tracking and payroll.
Quickbooks integrates seamlessly with most small businesses.
Arguably its greatest asset is QuickBooks is often the software accountants use, making tax reporting a breeze. But there are drawbacks including the limited features available on mobile devices, and this is where apps like Xero are set to make ground in the US.
It's a rare small business that gets by in the modern age without an internet presence, meaning no matter what field you're in likelihood is you have a website. For those who manage this themselves apps like WordPress are the go-to software, allowing business owners to easily design their website for desktop and mobile devices, and manage their content as often as they choose.
To protect your mobile device from the bump and grind of the small business world, see our range of tablet stands and enclosures.
WordPress is a web-based application that can be accessed from PCs, Macs, iPads and Androids, meaning business owners can post blogs, alter their home page and keep customer interest anywhere, anytime.
Wordpress is one of the easiest platforms for businesses to use for their website.
Users can purchase a yearly subscription or incorporate WordPress into their web hosting plan with a number of providers.
Regardless of whether you're a restaurant, gift shop or online clothes retailer, a little marketing and customer engagement goes a long way. And when it comes to e-newsletters and email campaigns, MailChimp is in a league of its own.
This is a web-based app so doesn't require the download of software and is dedicated to email marketing campaigns by assisting users to send bulk emails to clients, customers and interested parties.
MailChimp works across three spheres; managing subscriber lists, building email campaigns and analyzing the results. A key ingredient to this app's success is its ease of use. Without knowledge of HTML or design, users can create professional looking email marketing campaigns featuring products or information. They can then schedule when a campaign will run before analyzing the success.
Mailchimp is a must have for all businesses involved in email marketing.
Feedback is focused on customer engagement, so users can begin tailoring their campaigns with knowledge of what their customers liked and what they weren't that interested in, with information on how many people clicked on the message, what links they used and even their geolocation.
MailChimp can be linked to Google Analytics for even more in depth information, or integrated with a user's CRM database.
Once upon a time business owners spent hours agonizing over the weekly roster, juggling staff on holidays, staff unavailable and last minute absenteeism. Enter apps like Deputy which provide a comprehensive staff scheduling and tracking system.
Available for android devices, iPads and even Apple Watch, Deputy enables managers to create staff schedules and share them with their workforce via text, email or the web.
Deputy is great for creating schedules and rosters.
Staff using the system can check their roster, request leave, indicate unavailability, and even swap shifts, while another feature lets staff know when there is a shift open for work. It can also record shift starts and finishes, and track breaks.
As an overview tool, managers can see a snapshot of information regularly sought, like frequent absentees, staff running late or how many people are at work, even when the manager is not.
For select industries like hospitality and retail there are some great all-round options tailored to their needs. These include Vend for retailers, and Revel, which services the hospitality, entertainment, retail and service industries via a series of POS apps. We've covered POS apps in detail previously but these are a great addition to this field.
Cloud-based Vend is available for iPad, Mac and PC, and is a quick, simple system that allows retailers to operate anywhere using different printers, cash drawers and barcode scanners. The software features inventory management, reporting and analytics, customer loyalty tools and sales insights. Features also include receipt printing or emailing, lay away, returns and refunds, and it works across retail sectors regardless of whether you're a gift shop or a plumbing supply chain.
When it comes to hospitality, Revel is renowned as an all-rounder dealing with seating, ordering, serving, and beyond to inventory management, sales reporting and staff scheduling. It also copes with split bills, table layout, menu creation and specials, and extends to social media integration.
While selecting the right app for your business requires research, it's comforting to know so many innovate software companies and startups are dedicated to making life easier for the small business owner, and that managing a business is becoming an increasingly mobile affair.