As any small business owner will tell you, there always seems to be more work to do than there are hours to do it in. But thankfully, with the help of technology, there is help.
Whether you’re a freelancer working for yourself, or an entrepreneur with multiple employees, there are dozens of apps available to help you manage and run your business and keep your employees on track. Here’s a look at some of the more popular and effective apps for small businesses.
For many small business owners, their to-do list – either written on a scrap of paper or running continuously through their mind – can be a stumbling block when it comes to starting and finishing jobs. If you simply want to put your to-do list on your phone, apps such as Wunderlist allow you to use your smartphone rather than pen and paper to create lists. However, if you want to learn how to manage your time – or see where your time is being wasted – there are advanced management apps that will allow you to break larger tasks into smaller ones while still giving you the satisfaction of crossing an item off your list.
MyLifeOrganized gives users the opportunity to sync a variety of devices through both cloud- and desktop-based versions. MLO not only allows you to create to-do lists that you can then move around, it helps you break your list in to smaller, manageable chunks and even creates action items for you, detailing what you need to do first in order to get the task done by the deadline. The software sends you place-appropriate lists such as the items you need to buy at a particular store when you’re nearby.
Time-Tracking and Scheduling
Small business owners with remote staff can ensure productivity with time tracking software such as Time Doctor which offers screenshots of employees working, chat monitoring, and client tracking. By finding out how much time people are spending on each project, entrepreneurs can decide if the project is worth the time it takes to get the job done, while also keeping an eye on employee productivity. The software also includes web and app monitoring, to ensure time is being used wisely.
TSheets by QuickBooks offers a time-tracking and employee scheduling option in one program. Employees who work remotely or change locations can use their normal device to clock in and out, take lunch breaks and track overtime, even when they’re offline (the device syncs once it’s back online). It also allows entrepreneurs to create schedules and drag and drop new priorities into the schedule.
Those who believe in the pomodoro method feel people are unable to focus after a certain amount of time. Basic pomodoro apps are simply timers that count down 25 minutes, reminding people to take a five-minute break, then go back to work. Much like to-do list apps, pomodoro apps range from basic ones that simply offer a timer to help boost productivity, to more intricate apps that help you track time to show you where you’re most productive. There are plenty of pomodoro apps available, just search “pomodoro” in Apple’s App Store or on Google Play.
Just because you may not work in the same office or location as your employees it doesn’t mean you can’t still stay in touch with them. With Slack, different groups of people can be created based on the particular project, and people can leave a group if the conversation no longer applies to them. Employees can upload and share files with their colleagues as well as people outside their immediate network. It also supports both voice and video chat, and you can also share your screen.
Some other communications apps include Join.Me, Basecamp and Google Hangouts.
For many small business owners, invoicing and tracking down late payments is the bane of their existence. While apps unfortunately make that process more fun or enjoyable, they certainly make it easier. FreshBooks lives in the cloud so business owners can create professional-looking invoices, send payment reminders, and automate the process as much or as little as they want, from any device. FreshBooks also offers expense and time trackers, project management and team collaboration, estimates, and payment options. Other invoicing apps including QuickBooks and Wave.
Square allows you to use your smartphone to accept debit and credit cards remotely, making it easier for customers to pay you on the spot, including tipping and refunds. It’s an app that’s made life easier for thousands of small businesses by providing a full suite of traditional payment options, including the ability to send out email invoices after purchase.
There’s no arguing that small business owners have more things to do than actual time to do it. With the help of these apps, entrepreneurs are able to streamline the necessary, but often time-sucking aspects of running a company, offering them more time to do what they do best – serving their customers and growing their business.
Lisa Day | Contributing Writer