Posted on 26 June, 2018  |  3 mins

“If you want to check snow conditions on the mountain... if you want to check how many calories are in your lunch... if you want to check where exactly you parked the car… there’s an app for that.

“Yep, there’s an app for just about anything—only on the iPhone.”

Apple’s 2009 advertisement answered so many questions. What is an app? What do they do? Where can you get one? It also came with one of the catchiest and most indelible slogans of the noughties: “there’s an app for that”.

Fast-forward nine years and the same can now be said for business apps. Apps for business come in every shape and size, helping business owners solve virtually any challenge they might have—from any device, no longer just Apple’s own products.

You might even use small business apps already. If you take a picture of your products and put them on Facebook, receive emails through the likes of Outlook or store documents in the cloud, you’re likely to use an app in some way.

But if you’re entirely new to this whole thing, let’s take a small step back and start at the beginning with an all-important question…

What is a business app?

A business app is a piece of software specifically designed to solve a business problem. Apps tend to be incredibly user friendly, so people with any level of IT knowledge or experience can use them—and use them well.

The majority of apps are also built with mobility in mind. You can use them on your mobile device, tablet or desktop computer, whenever you want and from anywhere in the world.

That’s why you might also hear the term cloud apps thrown around. All good business apps work in the cloud, pulling information from a secure, shared location so you can stay in charge, whether you’re on the road or at home.

Where the comparison with the apps you’ll find in your personal life fails, however, is how business apps are used. These apps have become ubiquitous in working life. You don’t need to press the icon on your phone screen to switch them on; many of the business apps you’ll work with constantly run in the background, supporting important parts of your company.

For example, accounting apps process your income and expenses, point-of-sale apps let you take customer payments, and marketing campaigns can be scheduled to continue even when you’re not around. Your business can always be working, even when you’re not, allowing you to do a lot more with a lot less.

What do business apps do?

A business app gives you a smarter, more efficient way to run a part of your business.

As touched upon, there’s an app for almost anything you’d like help with—from managing late-paying debtors to improving customer support.

Foreign-exchange risk management, job rostering, quote and invoice creation, website building, eCommerce, web analytics, project management and a lot more… apps are available to help.

Ultimately, what they do for a business owner is give them more control over that part of the business. An inventory management app, for example, provides constant, up-to-date information on what’s in stock, what’s on order and what needs ordering. It’s also highly functional, letting you make orders, fulfil deliveries and even take payments through one piece of software.

And with that extra level of control comes opportunities to make better decision, be more time-efficient by cutting manual tasks and save money throughout the business.

Where can I get business apps?

One of the things 9 Spokes offers is a free app marketplace, where anyone can browse what business apps are available to help with their specific needs.

We’ve arranged these into nine areas we find a business owner generally needs help with:

  • Money
  • Customers
  • Product
  • People
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Productivity
  • Information
  • Specialist

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.

Once you’re up and running, we’d love to show you what a free business dashboard can do, too—but we'll save that for another blog.

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