A recent national survey of entrepreneurs showed that 88 percent of small-business owners use mobile apps to conduct business on their smartphones or tablets. Yet more than half of those surveyed expressed a need for more software that’s relevant to professional use.
To ease the pain of sorting through the hundreds of thousands of products that may or may not address your company’s challenges, the Intuit Small Business Blog did the work for you. Here are five killer apps for handling business tasks via your mobile device — regardless of your revenue, size, industry, or location.
- Appointment-plus (iOS, Android; free trial, then $39 and up per month) — When customers, prospects, and vendors don’t show for appointments, they cost you time and money. You can’t force people to keep their word, but you can be proactive in minimizing costly no-shows. Appointment-plus offers scheduling solutions like automated email reminders that you can manage 24 hours a day, even if your business has multiple locations or service providers with varying hours. Email reminders can decrease no-shows by as much as 35 percent; SMS text messages can reduce them by 75 percent, the company says. In addition to automated reminders, the app offers email marketing and record- and note-taking capabilities.
- GoPayment (iOS, Android; free app and card reader, then 1.75 to 3.75 percent per purchase) — If you’re not accepting mobile credit-card payments, you’re missing an opportunity to make more money: A study by Intuit shows that merchants can boost sales by more than $1,000 a month simply by accepting credit cards. Set up a GoPayment account to receive the free mobile app and card reader (which is mailed to you within seven days of signing up). Sales revenue processed using GoPayment may be transferred to your business bank account within two to three days from the time the transaction is processed or loaded onto a prepaid Visa card.
- join.me (iOS, Android; free limited version, or $149 per user per year for unlimited version) — Neither online conferencing nor file-sharing is new. The draw of this web-based collaboration app is how simple it is to use, whether you’re fielding client or employee questions on the fly or pitching a formal presentation to a large audience. Accessible from the join.me home page, the free version allows you to share screens and files (including audio) and chat with up to 10 viewers. The paid version allows for up to 250 participants and enables you to present from an iPad and “mark up the screen” virtually in real time. It also lets multiple presenters work from different locations.
- SignEasy (iOS, Android; free for up to three docs, then $1.99 for every five docs or $19.99 a year) — Although cloud computing and mobile technology have made it possible to conduct business anytime and anywhere, the need for signatures on official documents can still cause inconveniences in the digital world. SignEasy allows users to download, digitally sign, save, and return contracts and other paperwork sent by email or shared via cloud-based sharing apps like Box, Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Drive — without ever having to print the document.
- VPN Direct (iOS; free for 30 days, 99 cents and up per month) — Conducting business from your phone can increase your efficiency and flexibility, but accessing sensitive business information on the go underscores the need for reliable network security. VPN Direct ensures that all the data you send and receive is encrypted — even if you’re using an open wireless network.