The way we work has changed so much over the last few years, especially for small businesses. The latest improvements in smartphones, tablets and the availability of reliable WIFI and broadband means that small business owners and entrepreneurs can run entire businesses without ever sitting at a desk. With the demands of running your own business, sometimes, there’s just not enough hours in the day. That’s why you need to be clever and work efficiently to utilise your time and explore some of the many time saving apps on the market.
Just a few years ago the concept of working completely in ‘the cloud’ was still alien to most people who were used to working on a PC at a desk in a physical office. But by working in the cloud, you could file your tax return on the bus, finish your big client winning presentation while you get your coffee, or update your blog while you wait to pick up your kids from the school gates. With the right apps, you can work completely online, be more flexible and more productive too.
Here’s a small selection of our top apps for small businesses:
- Office 365
We’re all familiar with the Microsoft Office suite but Office 365 is much more flexible than the desktop version. Launched in 2011, this subscription-based version of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, etc. can be used on your PC, laptop or mobile so you have more freedom to work where you want.
- Google Apps for Work
There’s no doubt that Google has been absolutely pivotal in bringing the cloud to the mainstream. Over five million people now using their paid-for Google Apps for Work service which offers an online alternative to Microsoft Office that also includes customised emails and great collaboration tools.
- Google Drive
If you’re not yet ready to pay, Google Drive is a free internet storage space. You can upload files and documents for others to view and edit and there’s something magical about seeing everyone in the team all working independently on a document and making additions at the same time!
- Sage One
The Sage One mobile app is a handy free tool to raise and email invoices, record expenses and manage your business contacts. If you already have a Sage One Accounting subscription, your data is updated in real-time so when you access it from the website, you’ll see all your recent transactions. This makes it so easy to manage your business finances from your smartphone.
- Sprout Social
Twitter and Facebook are two obvious examples of free services that you’re probably already using. Sprout Social makes it easy to manage your presence on several different social media platforms at the same time. You can engage with your audience, publish posts and it also has a useful analytics feature to help you review your performance across social media.
Trello is another great free app for businesses. It is a very visual project management tool that makes it easy to organise tasks for yourself as well as for your team. Use it to keep track of your to-do list, completed tasks and ideas all in one place. Trello has a pin board style design that makes it really easy to review your progress at a glance.
Everyone knows that Skype is great for video calling but there’s way more to it than that. With a Skype call, you can share your screen which makes it easier to present to colleagues, share an idea or even troubleshoot a problem. It also has a handy instant messenger that you can install on your phone or PC so you can always stay in touch.
Evernote is a great example of working in the cloud. It is perfecting for creating lists, jotting down ideas and collaborating with your colleagues. Evernote also makes it easy to gather everything that matters to your project in one place by allowing you to clip web articles, capture handwritten notes, and even snap photos.
- Cam Scanner
To make your office as paperless as possible, you’ll need to try to store as much of your documents in the cloud as you can. Cam Scanner lets you scan documents like receipts and business cards so you save them as a PDF. The paid version can even read and recognise your text so you can copy and paste as required.
To keep on top of all the latest news and information, download the Feedly app to your phone. Feedly uses RSS feeds so you can simply organise your favourite publications, blogs and news sites all in the one place. It makes it easier to access the information and news about your industry and the topics you care about.