Apps for Small Businesses: A Guide | SMB Compass
Ezra Cabrera | November 1, 2020
Running a business demands that one juggles many obligations at once. Overseeing daily operations, managing payroll, and addressing employee-related issues are just a few of the things that fall under an entrepreneur’s purview. With so many varying responsibilities, it’s understandable that a small business owner may get bogged down with day-to-day business needs, and overlook bigger picture needs like growing the company. Time management is key to boosting productivity and efficiency, and apps for small businesses can play a big role in supplementing that.
There is an overwhelming number of business-related apps available out there, and the sheer volume can make it difficult for entrepreneurs to choose which ones will best aid their operations. We want to help make the selection process more seamless. We’ve gone ahead and rounded up our picks for the ten best apps available for small businesses.
Finance and Accounting Apps
Finance and accounting tasks are usually the most time-consuming as they require their own level of skill and expertise. Luckily, these apps can streamline all your bookkeeping processes.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, QuickBooks is the top app for finance and accounting. This app is great for pretty much all small business owners as it offers four basic plans to appease a range of entrepreneurs: Self-employed ($15/month), Simple Start ($25/month), Essential ($40/month), and Advanced ($150/month).
Top QuickBooks Features:
- Automate payments to suppliers
- Automate payroll of employees
- Accept online payment from clients
- Automate, send and track customer invoices
- Produce unlimited and customizable contracts
Wave is a great app for sole proprietors and individual contractors with nine or fewer employees. At just $20 per month, it’s also the go-to for business owners who are looking for a cheaper accounting alternative. The Wave app is compatible with both Mac and PCs. You can also use its invoicing and receipt scanner feature on an iOs or Android phone.
Top Wave Features:
- Manage finances of multiple businesses in one account
- Unlimited use of invoicing as well as sales and expense tracking
- Payroll management
- Payment automation
- Scan and store receipts
The FreshBooks app helps businesses save money while earning profits through its accurate tracking feature. It also has over 200 integrations, including Basecamp, PayPal, and Google Apps, and it works on all devices. The monthly subscription for the app starts at $15 for five billable clients. If you have more than five customers, you can opt for the $25 per month subscription for 50 billable clients per month.
Top FreshBooks Features:
- Set up reoccurring invoices for each client
- Invoice management, tracking, and customization
- Efficient expense organization
- Insightful, accurate, and unlimited time tracking
- Accept online payments
- Collect customer payments faster
We’ve already touched on how important time management is to the success of a business. These time-tracking productivity apps can be particularly helpful for prioritizing tasks and staying on top of deadlines.
If your employees work on a per hour basis, you need to track the number of billable hours they each work. The Toggl app tracks every second of yours and your employees’ time and also identifies what projects you’ve each spent the most time on. Furthermore, the app congregates all this information into a monthly report that you can export at the end of each month. Toggle offers a free subscription for up to five users. Beyond that, it ranges from $7.20 to $14.40 per user, per month and can offer time-tracking for unlimited projects, users, clients, and more.
Top Toggl Features:
- Time-tracking for unlimited clients and projects (Pro version)
- One-click timers to start time tracking
- Calendar integration
- Set-up recurring reminders to track time
As opposed to Toggle which tracks your time, RescueTime tracks your activity throughout the day. Once downloaded onto your phone or computer, the app tracks all the websites and applications you visit on the given device and for how long you visited them. RescueTime then congregates this data into a daily report so you can see where and how your time is being spent.
With RescueTime, you can set-up an alert to notify you if you’ve spent too much time on a specific activity. If you’re gleaning that certain sites or platforms are distracting you, for instance maybe you’re spending too much time on social media during the day, the app also allows you to block those sites for however long you want.
RescueTime is available for Mac, Linux, and PCs. Currently, the mobile app is only available for Android. Users have the option to download the basic version of the app for free or opt for the premium version, which costs $9 per month.
Top RescueTime Features:
- Automatic activity and time tracking
- Rank specific apps as productive or distracting
- Block access to certain websites
Good communication apps for small businesses are vital to managing a small business. These communication apps are particularly useful for companies with remote employees, as well as for conducting client calls and meetings.
As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to keep many companies working from home, Zoom has become one of the most commonly used communication apps for small businesses to set up virtual meetings, conferences, and events. Among its many benefits, Zoom operates at lower bandwidth and consumes less data than other types of video conferencing applications, which is particularly useful for remote workers who don’t have a high-speed internet connection in their homes.
The Zoom platform offers both free and premium subscriptions for its users. If you opt to use the free version of the app, you can enjoy up to 40 minutes of video time. For a price of $14.99 to $19.99 per month, you can enjoy unlimited minutes of video calls with your team.
Top Zoom Features:
- Seamlessly schedule meetings
- Calendar integration (Google calendars, Microsoft Office 365)
- The virtual waiting room for participants
- Virtual backgrounds during meetings
- Participants can share their screens simultaneously
- Can accommodate hundreds of participants in one meeting
7. Skype for Business
Skype is another popular video conferencing app that has been around since 2003. With Skype, you can only call people in your address book so all parties will need to have an account through the app. Microsoft created Skype for Business to accommodate up to 250 people on a single conference call or meeting, as opposed to Skype for consumers which only accommodates up to 50 people.
Top Skype for Business Features:
- Instant Messaging
- Meeting Scheduling from Outlook
- Polling features
- Meetings can accommodate up to 250 people
Slack is an instant messaging platform designed for connecting with employees in real-time. Often times sending a quick message to a co-worker or manager is much easier and time-efficient than getting on the phone, and Slack provides that capability. Users can create different channels for different teams, projects, or assignments to streamline communications even further. In fact, Slack claims to increase productivity by 32%. Slack offers four different plan options: Free, Standard ($6.67/month), Plus ($12.50/month), and Enterprise Grid for extra-large businesses or those in regulated industries.
Top Slack Features:
- Easy sharing by dragging and dropping files
- Creation of channels for different teams and projects
- Face-to-face communication through group voice and video calls of up to 15 people
- Integrations with 10 apps including Dropbox, Zoom, and Salesforce
- Unlimited message search (Standard)
- 24/7 support (Plus)
Project Management Apps for Small Businesses
These project management apps for small businesses will allow small business owners to track, manage, and hopefully increase their company’s productivity, and make projects more accessible to remote employees.
The goal of the Trello app is to help teams work more collaboratively and keep projects organized. Through the app, projects are broken down into “task boards,” which list out all the various tasks required to complete the given project. Tasks can then be assigned to specific team members with coinciding due dates. Tasks are moved into one of three columns, “to-do,” “in-progress,” and “done,” so all team members can stay aligned in real-time. The app also integrates other software and applications like Evernote, Slack, and Google Drive.
Trello does offer a free version which includes basic features like task assignments and tracking. The app also offers a “Business Class” option which costs $9.99 per user, per month (if paid annually) and offers additional features.
- Unlimited boards, cards, and lists for better collaboration
- Assign tasks to team members
- Set-up deadlines for tasks
- Automate repeatable task processes
- Attach files up to 10 MB
Like Trello, Basecamp allows you to create a separate board for each of your projects, or if you own multiple businesses, for each business. Every project board on Basecamp is divided into six tools: a chatbox, to-do’s, message board, schedule, documents, and files, and automatic check-ins. This makes it easy for team members to navigate the platform and stay on top of the various tasks assigned to them.
While basecamp is free, “Basecamp Business” which offers several added features and additional storage space, costs $99 per month.
- Split work into project boards
- Private chats
- File storage
- Automatic recurring check-ins
- To-do lists
- Schedule of activities
- Activity tracking
Every small business must have an editing app like Instasize to create stunning images to post on their online profiles. Here are some of Instasize’s creative features that go beyond usual granular editing:
Top Instasize Features:
- Create collages using up to 6 different photos
- Add solid colors, gradients, patterns, or images as photo borders
- Add text to your photos using trendy fonts
- Overlay vintage effects like film, texture, and light leaks
- Access Unsplash’s free library of professional images
Download Instasize for free on iOS or Android or subscribe to Premium for $4.99/month to access all of the app’s amazing creative tools.
To Wrap Up…
Running a business can become a bit easier when you use apps to help you manage your day-to-day operations. Whether you need a better way to handle your payroll, invoices, or track your employee’s productivity, there is a tool for every business need. With the right combination of apps for small businesses, you can streamline business processes, increase productivity, lessen the chances of mistakes, and save both money and time.
Most of the apps mentioned above have free subscriptions, so you can try them out and see if they address your business’ needs before spending money on the premium versions. With adequate research, you’ll eventually narrow down your app choices and choose the best ones for your company.