5 Types of Apps Every Small Business Owner Should UseManage your business from anywhere with apps that help with everything from invoicing to inventory.
As a small business owner you have to do it all — except when an app can do some of it for you. Name a business management or marketing function and, as the saying goes, there’s an app for that.
These fives types of apps can help you manage your business right from your smartphone or tablet and maximize productivity, organization and efficiency.
Social media management apps
If you’re using social media to promote your business — and you should be — you know tweeting, posting and pinning takes time, as does engaging with the conversations your successful posts spark. Social media monitoring and management apps help business owners keep track of their online presence and increase engagement with customers.
John Turner, founder and CEO of meditation company QuietKit, says these apps are crucial for his business. “[Social media managers] collect and aggregate mentions of your brand name or of topics of interest from all over the web, from sites mentioning you to mentions on social media,” he said. “That way you can join the conversation when you’re mentioned, all the way from thanking someone for a positive review to facing a crisis before it gets out of control.”
Many of these apps let you schedule posts across all your social media platforms in one place, see all your social mentions and in some cases also respond. Social media scheduling apps include Buffer, Hootsuite, Send Social Media and Sprout Social. Some apps, like BuzzSumo, track how your posts do.
Accurate accounting, including recording all payments, expenses and revenue, is essential to good business management. But it can get dicey fast, especially if you have multiple lines of credit, invoices going out every day and revenue coming in from both digital and in-person streams. An accounting app is a must-have.
Nicki Morris, president of business consulting company The Neoteric Group, recommends Wave, noting that it’s easy to use and free. “It provides accurate revenue and expense tracking and allows me to follow up on overdue invoices. The system facilitates my business management by providing accurate financial reports so I can budget appropriately and ensure that I am on target to meet my financial [goals].”
Employees dread having to come into work just to check their shifts for the coming week almost as much as business owners hate managing frequent schedule changes. Suzie Blaszkiewicz, a small business researcher and editor at app comparison hub GetApp, recommends using a digital scheduling app to keep your team on the same page and allow your staff to make adjustments on the fly.
“Whether for a small group or a large team, scheduling apps are a huge time saver for the managers making the schedules and the employees looking to access them. Most apps now have a simple interface with drag and drop functionality to be able to quickly make schedules, as well as easily make changes when necessary. A lot of these apps also come with mobile versions where employees can log in to check their schedules, request changes and communicate with other employees to swap shifts around,” she said.
Credit cards are rapidly becoming the preferred method of payment for most customers. Every small business needs a point of sale, or POS, app to ensure quick, secure credit card payments from anywhere. Rachel Jimenez, a business strategist who founded TalkRaw.org, recommends POS apps for their ease of use and rapid money transfers. “Most people don’t use cash these days,” she says. “These apps allow you to easily modernize your business and accept all payment forms from your customers. You can also pay vendors using these apps.”
NCR’s small business POS software includes NCR Silver for Small Business (which is tablet based and integrates loyalty and email marketing features) and NCR Counterpoint (it includes robust point-of-sale, inventory management software, built-in customer loyalty, automated purchasing and configurable reporting capabilities). They help you track sales, market to customers and manage it all on the go.
Tracking your goods used to be a tedious chore, but inventory apps keep you updated on your current stock in real time. Eirini Kafourou, a communications specialist at Megaventory, said inventory apps are crucial for a busy entrepreneur who may have products in multiple locations.
“For a small business, it may be tempting to use spreadsheets as an inventory tool, but very soon it becomes apparent that this method can lead to data errors, wasted time, lack of visibility and consequently lack of profit,” said Kafourou. He recommends using cloud-based inventory management software. “[It] can increase your profit and improve the services you offer to your clients.”