The average small business owner will log into about five different business systems every day, for managing their regular tasks.
How many do you use?
In this blog post I will share some of my favourite small business apps and what makes them special. Some of these are household names, while others might be less familiar to you. But the one thing that unites them is that they are all able to integrate to one central system, giving you seamless, easy access to all the key functions you need in order to manage your day-to-day tasks.
Ten small business apps for ten business needs
Let’s take a look at ten apps in ten different categories, to get a wide scope of functions and features.
1. Accounting: Xero
Xero is currently one of the most popular accounting applications designed for small and medium sized businesses. It offers different price plans based on the functions needed, but it is a relatively low-cost solution considering how feature-rich it is.
Key features: The app offers a complete suite of accounting functions that a small business might need: Accounting, invoicing, VAT, expenses, payroll and more. It allows the user to manage both business and personal accounts in the same place.
Slack is a solution that allows teams to communicate in real time, share access to files and keep track of workflows and tasks. It’s scalable to suit large as well as small teams, but offers a free version to suit small budgets.
Key features: The app is centred on the use of instant messaging, in chat rooms organised by topic. It offers voice and video calls, screen sharing, advanced search functions, file storage, project task management and a large number of integrations with third party software.
3. CRM: Podio
Podio is an incredibly flexible software platform that covers a wide range of use cases, but it is particularly strong when it comes to contact relationship management (CRM). Your customer and prospect data sits at the very heart of your business, and Podio helps you extract the most possible value from that data by managing it through the entire sales cycle.
Key features: This is a completely customisable app that can be made to fit your unique sales process. You can easily design lead capture forms, while also recording and tracking all activity around your existing clients and leads. Podio helps you quickly find and use the data you need, without being slowed down by irrelevant features.
4. Direct Debit Payments: GoCardless
GoCardless is one of the best and most widely used solutions for taking online payments. There is a 1% basic charge, with some additional monthly costs for optional extras, but overall it’s very cost-effective for a small business that wants to be able to securely efficiently process direct debit payments on their own terms.
Key features: There’s an easy sign-up process for the customer, which gets them instantly set up to pay you online for a one-off purchase, a monthly subscription, or a payment plan. You get immediately notified of any cancelled or unsuccessful payments, with the option to retry failed transactions.
5. Marketing: Mailchimp
Mailchimp has been the marketing darling of small businesses for more than 15 years. And while it was previously a rather simplistic email tool, it has gradually added more advanced functionality and is now relatively feature-rich even in its free version.
Key features: Mailchimp’s email marketing includes auto-responders, drip campaigns, newsletters, unsubscribe management and opt-in solutions. There are also list management functions that allow for segmenting based on interest or history, and it helps you stay compliant with spam and data privacy regulations.
6. Project Management: Asana
Asana is known for being one of the easiest project management tools in the market. It’s designed for teams of any size – from small start-ups all the way up to enterprise level, with an impressive stack of features even in its free and low-cost options.
Key features: Asana is essentially the ultimate ‘spreadsheet killer’. It helps you organise all your work and that of your team, including goals, calendars, files, and notes, without the need for separate tracking documents. When used right, it can eliminate the need for time-consuming status update meetings. It offers a complete Kanban board, issue management, client portal, resource management, time and expense tracking and much more.
7. Online Meetings: GoToMeeting
GoToMeeting is a great combination tool for internal and external conference calls, and presentations. The ‘GoTo’ suite is known for being a reliable, secure service compared to many alternative solutions, but the advanced functions come at a price tag that doesn’t suit everyone.
Key features: GoToMeeting has an extensive set of presentation and collaboration features, including agenda and minutes management, invitations, scheduling, two-way audio/video, chat, as well as cooperative writing and editing.
8. Notes & Lists: Evernote
Evernote has also been around for a while but is still a firm favourite for many small business owners when it comes to managing information. It allows you to collect research, capture ideas, and organise notes. There is a free version for limited use, as well as a business subscription that includes advanced document features and virtual workspaces for teams.
Key features: This is a great little app for users that want to keep track of lots of different types of information in one central place. It allows you to manage tasks, capture web pages, images, notes and various document types, and easily share it all with your team. There’s also advanced search functionality to help you find the information you need – even text within images and PDF documents.
9. Approvals: RightSignature
Electronic signatures are becoming increasingly important as a productivity tool. With the help of RightSignature, you can quickly get your contracts, NDAs and statements signed. It is a paid tool, but the basic-level option gives you more than enough to get started.
Key features: This is as close as you’ll get to the real pen-to-paper signature experience. RightSignature offers secure authentication and encryption, audit logs, multi-party signing, and progress tracking. It even offers biometric authentication with the help of digital fingerprints.
10. Password Management: passwordsafe
Passwordsafe is like a secure vault for your team’s login credentials, which helps you control access permissions, as well as lock down security if any devices get stolen. It’s a great automation tool for managing user access and generating new passwords where needed.
Key features: Passwordsafe provides quick and secure access to various systems using Single Sign-On (SSO), two-factor authentication, role-based access control, backups, and much more.
Business tools: More than meets the app
For business owners who use a wide range of standalone tools and systems, I often recommend that they evaluate the systems they use, and take a holistic look at what functions they actually need to meet their daily requirements.
In most cases they discover that having one central, customised system, where all the functions they need are completely integrated, saves them lots of money and time in the long run. So next time you’re tempted to look at spot solutions for one particular need, spend some time analysing your processes and consider getting one toolkit that works for your unique needs.
Want to get your own, tailored software system?
I can show you a cost-effective, quick way to customise a software system your own, unique business needs. To find out more, send me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org today!