Posted on 30 October, 2019  |  4 mins

Ah, the app! It’s become a staple of contemporary life and modern-day convenience. For small business owners, apps can support a more effective way of working – increasing productivity, organisation and general operational management

Technology is changing the way that we live and the way we work. At home, they are helping us to organise our lives, manage our finances, monitor our health and play Candy Crush Saga. The scope for business is equally broad.

In the extremely competitive world of business, business apps are levelling the playing field by adding capability to small businesses. For example, business apps such as Xero, Sage, Intuit QuickBooks give small business owners access to technology previously reserved for larger organisations.

What’s a business app?

A business app is software, or a set of computer programs, used to solve a business problem or provide a business function. They’re designed to boost and measure productivity, to perform business functions, thus adding capacity. Most are cloud-based – pulling information from a secure, shared location – giving users access from the office, on the road or at home.

They’re user-friendly and intuitive (you don’t need to be a tech-guru or an accountancy-whizz to use an accounting app), and mostly responsive, so you can use them on any device – as well as anytime, anywhere (with thanks to the cloud).

When apps takeover

Business apps are ubiquitous in working life. What’s more is that they are always on – working in the background, supporting the essential parts of your business. For example, the aforementioned accounting apps process your income and expenses, while point-of-sale apps let you take customer payments and monitor your stock, and others track the success of your marketing campaigns – providing detailed reports on demand!

The significance? Your business is always working, even when the lights are off, and you and your team have gone home.

App life

For small businesses, apps can be a lifeline; by enhancing capabilities, boosting resources and giving users added control over and a comprehensive overview of their business they can provide the insight required to make better decisions, be more time-efficient and save money across the business.

There’s an app for almost everything and the app store grows daily! From managing your cash flow, creating invoices, tracking and paying bills, payroll, inventory management and eCommerce, to project management, web analytics and website building.

An inventory management app, for example, provides constant, up-to-date information on what’s in stock, what’s on order and what needs to be ordered. It’s also highly functional, letting you make orders, fulfil deliveries and even take payments through one piece of software.

Tiptop apps

The team at NerdWallet have done their homework and drafted a list of 25 of the best small-business apps by category. We’ve picked our highlights.

Accounting: QuickBooks

QuickBooks’ accounting software allows you to securely access and manage business’ accounts – anytime, anywhere and on any device. Using QuickBooks, business owners can view financial statements, track sales and expenses, pay outstanding bills and create custom online invoices (monitoring the payment of both), manage payroll, more.

Sounds dreamy, right? Plus, you can provide your accountant with access so they too can manage our records remotely – so you can easily work together.

Communications: Slack

Slack is a communication platform – or as they put it a ‘collaboration hub’. Slack brings people, information and work tools together. As well as a direct message facility, Slack enables conversations to be organised into private or public channels, for images, PDFs and other files to be shared with other team members, and it indexes and archives messages and files.

Best of all, there’s no limit to the number of users a business can add – now that’s scalability. Limitless communication.

Point-of-sale: Square

Square’s intuitive point-of-sale (POS) devices and software make it easier for small businesses to take payments, in store or on the go. The Square Reader accepts all major credit cards and Square’s app allows you to keep track of sales and inventory in real-time – ensuring that you have the tools you need to effectively run your business.

Organisation: Asana

Asana empowers teams ‘to do great things together’ by providing a platform for improved communication and collaboration. It is a web and mobile app designed to help teams organise, track and manage their work and is especially useful if overseeing projects. Asana also integrates with Google Drive and Dropbox to attach files and Slack for communication!

Honourable mentions

Expensify

Expensify simplifies business expenses. It allows users to easily capture receipts on the go by using the camera on their mobile device. That data is then fed into the expense-reporting software and a report is automatically created, filled out and submitted for you. Admin users then have a new, simpler way to manage expense transactions online. Ah! Convenience.

Mailchimp

Mailchimp is a simple marketing automation tool that most famously gives you a number of easy options for designing and sending your business emails. Whether you need to sell your products, share some big company news or tell an ongoing story through marketing campaigns, Mailchimp gives you an easy way to reach out to your audience directly—and see the results—through emails and newsletters.

The search for apps

9 Spokes offers a free app marketplace, where anyone can browse the business apps available to help meet their specific business needs.

You don’t need to sign up or share any details with us, just browse our curated marketplace of what we’ve found to be the best business apps for SMEs. If you see one you like, the vast majority of apps in our marketplace let you sign up for a free trial, so you can give it a spin before spending any money on it.

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