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Running a business

Budgeting Versus Forecasting

The proliferation of app and cloud-based software has meant small businesses now have a large and often overwhelming pool of apps to choose from.

But there are some apps that just make life for a business owner so much easier.

These top apps are useful for small business owners who want to step away from traditional work flow models into the ease and accessibility of the cloud.

All apps discussed are suitable for Android and iOS.

1. method:CRM: Client Relationship Management

method:CRM is the most popular QuickBooks Online CRM app. It is quick and easy to set up and offers all the features a small company would need to keep their diary and to-do lists in check, keep client records and tasks in one place, streamline and track sales process. The platform seamlessly syncs with QuickBooks Online so you won’t be entering data twice.

2. Skype: Communication

Skype is an incredibly effective way to help your clients, business partners and team feel connected to your business. The basic version is free, which also includes free messages, voice, video and group video calls. The major benefit of Skype is that it is widely used by most businesses globally, which means that your contacts are online and can be available at very short notice.

3. Meeting Pad: Meeting Management

If a lot of your day is spent hopping from one client meeting or event to the next, Meeting Pad ensures you’re on top of your game. The free app imports your meetings from your calendar, manages attendees, records audio and allows you to attach documents.

4. TripIt: Virtual Travel Assistant

For frequent flyers, TripIt helps streamline your travel plans in a single itinerary and allows users to manage travel information, check departure times, directions to the airport and check weather updates. It does this by automatically connecting to your email accounts to find travel confirmation emails and turn them into concise itineraries. The basic app is free but for large-scale use the ‘pro’ version is $49 a year.

5. QuickBooks Online: Cash Flow Management

Built for business owners and accountants alike, QuickBooks Online does exactly what it says on the packet: makes your bookkeeping quick. The mobile app means you can keep on top of expenses on the go and have access to your financial information anytime and anywhere. Data syncs between your mobile devices and your computer seamlessly.

6. Evernote: Business Ideas and Sharing

Widely heralded as one of the best apps for syncing notes across devices, Evernote offers a single space to store, organise and share business ideas, notes, projects, tasks, images, inspiration and more. While the 60MB per month upload is free, a business premium account costs $13 per employee per month.

7. Box: File Sharing and Document Management

Box is one of the most secure apps to store and share files on the cloud in a way that scales to your business, regardless of the size. Small business employees and their employees can instantly and securely share, sync and collaborate with the app for their business needs. Prices range depending on your needs starting at $6 per user per month up to $17 per user per month.

8. Upwork: Project Management and Outsourcing

Upwork , formerly known as oDesk, offers small business owners pools of freelancers globally to meet their key support needs. Through the Upwork app, business owners can search, recruit and communicate instantly with contracting staff from anywhere in the world. The platform also allows users to draft contracts, fulfil payments and follow up future projects.

9. HipChat: Instant Cross Platform Messaging

HipChat is an increasingly popular cross-platform tool that allows entire teams to message one-on-one or in groups instantly without the delays and hassles of traditional email. It allows users to communicate in real-time with colleagues and clients in secured chat rooms via messaging or video, and includes share screen shots and document sharing. The app is free for teams of five or less, with a cost of $2 per user every month beyond that.

10. LinkedIn: Social Networking

Any business owner knows LinkedIn is a powerful way to stay industry-connected, increase exposure and visibility, and seek out opportunities for business growth. The popular social network has rapidly evolved to a place to find business opportunities, track key influencers, follow the opinion of relevant experts and commentators and unearth potential clients or customers. The LinkedIn app allows users to keep their business profiles active while on the move, communicate with industry networks, share profile updates and cross-link to Twitter.

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