As a small-business owner, you may serve as your company’s janitor, receptionist, customer-service rep, accountant, webmaster, and more. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some support? Here are 20 entrepreneurial tasks that can be made easier with an app or online service.
1. Storing documents — Keeping all of your important files on your computer’s hard drive is so 20th century. It’s just as convenient and perhaps more secure to use a cloud-based service like Box, Dropbox, iCloud, or Amazon Cloud Drive.
2. Creating a mobile app — Developing a custom mobile app for your company can cost thousands of dollars. However, if your needs are relatively basic, AppMakr, Bizness Apps, Mobile by Conduit, and Mobile Roadie offer free or low-cost tools for building a great-looking app.
3. Website monitoring — If you rely on your website to drive business, even to a small degree, you need to monitor its traffic. Where is it coming from? What search terms do people use to find your site? How long are they staying once they get there? Google Analytics is the industry standard for this — and, best of all, it’s free.
4. Scanning documents — One of our favorite ways to scan documents via a mobile device is Genius Scan. Scan an image or text file, crop and straighten it, assign tags for easy cataloging, and share it via Wi-Fi. Genius Scan+ allows you to directly upload
scanned materials to your favorite cloud service.
5. Accepting credit cards — Intuit’s GoPayment allows you to accept credit cards wherever you’re doing business. Set up the service with Intuit, download the free app, attach the free credit card reader to your mobile device, and start accepting payments on the spot.
6. Scheduling employees — Remember the days of making schedules on paper? Today, you can set employee hours digitally and allow them to view their schedules, request time off, and receive reminders online. One of our favorites is Findmyshift.
7. Accounting — Whether you’re invoicing clients or reconciling accounts, you can count on QuickBooks Online, an app that’s trusted by professional accountants and small-business owners everywhere. Create and send invoices via email, run all sorts of financial reports, and automatically download bank transactions to the service.
9. Creating quotes and bids — Why spend time producing quotes and bids from scratch for every new proposal when you can automate much of the process with an app like Bidsketch, Proposable, Privia, or Quote Roller?
10. Tracking inventory — If you sell any type of goods, tracking inventory is an essential yet potentially time-consuming task. Let Inventory Tracker help streamline the task. This highly customizable app offers you the ability to run the necessary reports, take pictures of each product, and import and export files, among other things.
11. Providing customer support — Your customers want to connect with you through a multitude of channels, including email, social media, chat, and phone. Desk.com gives you a single interface to bring all of those points together.
12. Managing employee payroll — If you want the easiest (and highest-rated by PC Magazine) way to manage payroll, try Intuit Online Payroll Plus. Intuit has specialists ready to help you complete the initial setup. After that, the app is a breeze. It even allows your employees to clock in and out. Plus, it works seamlessly with QuickBooks.
13. Handling work orders — If your business deals with service calls or work orders, check out ServicePal. The app lets you schedule calls, monitor jobs, and communicate with technicians in real time.
14. Managing travel itineraries — If you travel frequently, having all of your itineraries organized in one place is a must. TripIt does just that.
15. Navigating the streets — When you have to get to a customer or meeting fast, use Google Maps. Why pay for a GPS device or app when Google Maps is free?
16. Tracking expenses — Keeping track of business expenses is easy with Expensify. The app, which integrates with QuickBooks, is free for individuals, but charges companies for use by multiple employees.
17. Boosting productivity — Can’t afford Microsoft Office? Google Drive offers similar apps for free. Because Google Drive can open Microsoft Office files, even if you’re working with somebody who doesn’t use Office, collaboration is still easy.
18. Posting to social media — Can’t spend your day managing your company’s social media presence? Neither can we. Use an app like HootSuite, LaterBro, or SocialOomph to schedule updates to appear throughout the day.
19. Finding Wi-Fi hotspots — Numerous apps can help you find wireless internet hotspots wherever you are. We like Wi-Fi Finder, which lists 650,000 locations in 144 countries.
20. Taking dictation — Why are you still typing letters and emails? Dragon Dictation, a free app from the makers of Dragon NaturallySpeaking, allows you to speak your words on to the screen. You’ll be amazed with its accuracy.