We live in a world where convenience no longer counts as a luxury. In today’s business climate, quick solutions and time-saving tactics can be the difference between success and failure.
With a million new technological innovations produced every day, it’s hard to keep up. It’s also hard to distinguish between what you want and what you need. Because of this, many small business owners don’t bother looking for new apps and services that could save them tons of time and money. After all, the only thing worse than not using a digital assistant is installing something that ends up being a wasted effort.
If you know what to look for, the search for useful apps becomes a whole lot easier. And while you might not come across one piece of software that handles half your workload, you could download something that simplifies one or two of your least favorite tasks. Business owners always have too much on their plates; anything that saves a few minutes each day is a welcome addition to a busy CEO’s life.
To test every app would take several lifetimes, so don’t plan on trying everything. If you’re looking for help and don’t know where to start, one of the following eight apps could be the solution you’re looking for.
With companies employing remote workers far and wide, communication methods have taken on a new importance for the modern business owner. Conference calls are clunky and getting everyone in the same room to video chat with a client isn’t all that feasible. To really get connected and keep communication lines open, apps like Fuse can make all the difference.
Fuse takes the hard work and most of the troubleshooting out of those multi-location meetings. The software works across all sorts of platforms, is iPhone and Android friendly, and uses an interface that does its best to be intuitive. Chat, video conference and set up voice calls with one person or a select group, whatever you need to do at any given time.
You can also upload and share documents through the app, making it easy for an entire meeting to take place through the Fuse setting. Users can store and update contact info within the app so you won’t find yourself taking the annoying step of texting someone to get their Fuse handle.
Anytime you have to ask the question, “how are we doing the meeting?”, usable time is already being wasted. An easy-to-use app for connecting remote workers solves that problem.
I’ve written entire blog posts about time management, so I clearly think the topic is worth focusing on. If you haven’t found a way to take control of your schedule and make the most out of each hour, an app might give the extra push you need.
Some time management apps lean on goal setting, but I feel like that just enables you to get lazy with your schedule and continue using time however you please. RescueTime forces you to confront your habits and admit which projects and distractions provide the biggest drain on your day.
Just as budgeting apps can show a graph of where your money gets spent, this app runs on your devices and tracks where your time goes. At the end of the day you’ll have a clear picture of how much time you spent working in an excel document versus how much time you spent on Instagram. Sometimes the motivation you need is knowledge. In this case, you gain knowledge about how exactly you mismanage the minutes of your day.
In addition to the report on your time use, RescueTime lets you set alarms so you know when you need to move on to the next item on your to-do list. You can also use the app to block the distracting websites and games on your devices that you pretend to use innocently but definitely abuse when no one is watching.
You can start with RescueTime Lite, the free version of the app that will offer some basic, helpful functions. If you think you want to take the next step, there’s a 14-day free trial of RescueTime premium. Many of us waste a lot of time on our phones throughout the day - this app might actually turn your phone into a time saver.
When the entire team is working in concert, you can expect everyone to manage their time a little better. From what I’ve seen, Asana provides a great set of tools to get all employees on the same page.
This software brings you a lot of the same features as other time management and communication services. Everyone can access the same data and see the same schedule, then connect through the app to ensure people don’t duplicate work or miss revisions.
The interface provides pretty seamless updates, cutting down the time you’d otherwise spend informing people that a certain task had been completed or changed. Asana does more than just assist with your projects and organization, it provides a platform on which a lot of the work and work updates can be done.
One of the apps best features is the option to integrate with other apps like Google and Dropbox. If the service isn’t offered by Asana directly, there’s a good chance you can go through another provider and have that site’s info incorporate directly into your Asana channels. Whether it’s a specific communication network or encrypted storage, you have access to what you need without constantly logging in and out of the app.
For one piece of software that will help organize your team and create company-wide cohesion, you might find everything you need with Asana.
I really like having my finances organized. When something goes on the wrong card or the math doesn’t quite add up, I get pretty irritated. Apps like Expensify do a great job protecting me from myself.
Tracking cards is one of my favorite Expensify features. Credit cards, when used responsibly, provide great benefits for business owners. However, if don’t keep records of what you’re buying or you forget which cards get used for business and which are just for personal expenses, your effort to earn rewards can blow up in your face. If you link your cards into this app, you don’t have to keep receipts and store all that spending information in your brain, because Expensify will do it for you.
For those who like the visual aid of a physical receipt, you have the option to take pictures on your phone and track spending that way. When you’re traveling for business, this kind of monitoring can really save your neck. Even when you’re just running errands around town, especially when it’s a mix of personal and business spending, sorting each expense takes no time at all.
Whenever you need to, you can run an expense report right on Expensify. Anyone who needs help tracking payments made in and out of the office can find a handful of ways to put this app to good use.
Hiring sites and job boards can do a lot to help you find the right candidate for an open position. However, those services don’t do much when it comes to how you stay organized through the hiring process. That’s where Proven comes in.
With this app, you have a third party help you with each step from posting an open position to signing a contract. You create the job listing but have access to help from the Proven team. Once you’re ready, the post will go out to the major hiring companies so the best candidates will know about the position. As opposed to managing listings across a dozen different sites, you do everything through your app and let Proven handle the rest. You also have control over which sites your posting gets listed on.
Once candidates start applying, the software will keep you organized. You’ll get notified when resumés come in and you can sort applicants into different categories if you’re hiring for multiple positions. The app contains all the communication tools you need to coordinate and schedule interviews, so you don’t have to worry about bouncing between Proven and your personal email and losing important details.
Having such a burdensome process contained within one piece of software has tremendous upside. Instead of fighting to keep track of applicant communications, resumés and your interview schedule, you’ll save countless hours by having all that information managed in one spot. Hiring can feel like a full-time job on top of the one you’ve already got, but with an app that provides such an effective system, the process becomes much less overwhelming.
This payment app is ideal for small companies on the move. If you own a food truck or run a business that hosts pop-up events, Square makes it incredibly easy to swipe a client’s credit card. However, there’s much more to this app, with features that appeal to businesses of all shapes and sizes.
The software works well for accepting money through a phone or tablet, but Square Dashboard also provides incredibly useful financial assistance. You can log in from any device to see how sales are doing, which customers have been recently engaged, where payments were taken, how your inventory is looking, etc. With the option to take payments through one device and track that information in dozens of different locations, you can do more business without fear of things becoming mismanaged.
In addition to hardware that allows you to take credit, cash and gift cards, integrated software drastically simplifies your invoicing process. Print receipts if that’s your style or have them ready to go electronically. When services are rendered prior to payment, that information builds into an invoice as soon as the sale process starts. No matter what you do, managing your business’s money takes a lot of effort. With Square sorting the details and keeping your accounting nice and tidy, it becomes infinitely easier.
If you worry that Square works for companies that are either much bigger or smaller than yours, you can do away with that concern. From the smallest operation that takes a few credit card payments a day to enterprises pulling in hundreds of thousands in annual charges, Square has the technical support to meet your needs. For software and hardware this helpful, it’s somewhat astonishing that it can all start with simply downloading an app.
If you don’t already use Slack, you’ll probably start soon enough. This platform has taken over as one of the best messaging options for businesses small and large, helping to coordinate communication within subsets of larger groups as well as individual messaging.
Public and private channels make it easy to ensure the right people see the right conversations, and the automatic archiving proves endlessly useful. With your standard hashtags and mentions, you can keep old conversations sorted and easily discoverable. Everything is indexed automatically, meaning you just get to communicate with coworkers and the app handles any subsequent organization.
To cap it all off, Slack allows for an unlimited number of users for your business. If you have a company with six employees but you coordinate with another 500 vendors, you just have to set up the channels and make sure everyone has the right designation. Other apps might offer more bells and whistles, but Slack doesn’t have much competition when it comes to communication volume and conversation cataloging.
No one loves dealing with payroll, though Gusto makes it much more bearable.
First and foremost, you can plow through the number crunching and double checking that usually makes payroll such a nightmare right from your phone. Even if you can’t make the process less mind-numbing, you can at least take care of it while you go for a walk or eat your lunch.
Beyond that helpfulness, Gusto also delivers a handful of exceptionally useful features. You can provide and file W-2s and 1099s, take care of direct deposit, make tax payments, even track your employees time off. So much of the financial tedium that comes with being a business owner can be accomplished right through this app.
Depending on the size of your company, you might be able to use Gusto instead of outsourcing payroll duties to a third party, saving you loads of money without taking up all your extra time.
We put so much effort into figuring out how to improve our companies when the solution might just be an easy download away. The right software can change your business, maybe even your life, and the financial commitment could be as low as nothing. Think about which aspects of your workday you’d like to change or eliminate, then take one of these apps for a test drive and see how much your daily routine improves.