I was recently at a business networking group meeting (Innovative Business Networking or IBN – innovativebusinessnetworking.com) and we were having a discussion of what topics we’d like to cover this year from an educational standpoint. One of my colleagues brought up the idea of using the PC less and less to run his small business and shifting over to a mobile platform – phone, tablet, or both. Since the split in the room was about 50/50 for iOS and Android devices, I decided to only include apps that have offerings for both platforms.
So without further ado, here are the Best Apps for Small-Business Owners: 2016 Edition
This app lets your business associates (and friends and family, of course) update their contact information in your address book. The app’s developers say their product allows your social network to “maintain itself.” If, for example, your supplier also uses Addappt and just got a new cellphone number, he or she could make that update in your address book. You can also organize contacts into different groups and send messages via Addappt, which is free for both iOS and Android users.
This slick, gesture-based task-management app is for iOS and Mac devices. Clear helps you create and manage separate lists to organize daily tasks, and you can set reminders for yourself. Clear prides itself on ease of use, and for good reason: Items can be adjusted easily by pulling down a task, pinching a task and, finally, swiping it off the screen once it’s completed. You can create multiple lists and schedules with Clear, which can be synced between with your Mac desktop, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and iPod touch. Clear costs $4.99 for iPhones and $9.99 for desktops.
Keeping track of your expenses while on a business trip can be a big headache. Expensify makes the entire process a lot less painful. You can link your credit or debit card to your Expensify account so that charges are directly placed on an expense report. If you’d rather not do this, you can simply take pictures of your receipts using your phone and Expensify will automatically extract the relevant information from the receipts. You can then make an expense report yourself, which only takes a few minutes. Expensify costs $5 to $10 per active account for team and corporate users. The app works on all phones, including iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone and on all desktops.
This is a game-changing app for those with more than one phone or device. Pushover will organize all your messages from all your devices in one common space. The system sends push messages to any smartphone and places messages in one unified inbox. The app lets you send 7,500 messages each month, making it a good option for the well-connected small-business owner. It comes with a free seven-day trial, then requires a one-time $4.99 purchase and works for Android, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and all desktops.
If you’re looking for a new videoconferencing app, consider Fuze. It hosts online meetings for all devices and operating systems, including new versions for iPads and tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy. This app offers high-definition video and crisp audio and is easy to set up. You can receive a 30-day free trial before purchasing Fuze for your small business.
This app automatically tracks time you’ve spent on applications and websites to give you an accurate picture of how you spent your time during the day. Rescue Time then sends you detailed reports based on your activity, showing you how you might have been more productive. Premium features include the ability to block distracting websites and track offline activity. The app works for Mac, PC, Android and Linux and costs $72 per year with the first four months free.
The TripIt app consolidates your travel plans into a single itinerary, making it easy for any jet-setting entrepreneur to stay atop of his or her travel plans. The application manages all of your travel information, regardless of what website you used to purchase your ticket. Through TripIt, you can check departure times, directions to the airport and even weather reports. The app will notify you about any delays. TripIt’s most basic app is free, but there is also a TripIt Pro version for $49 a year and a TripIt for Teams version for $29 a month (for up to 10 users). Both plans come with a 30-day free trial. The app works on iPhones, iPads, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone 7, as well as Macs and PCs.
A free Android app, Boxmeup organizes and tracks your packages and/or containers. It allows you to print the proper QR labels, which you can scan, allowing you to pull up a list of items in the container on your phone at any time. Using Boxmeup, you’ll also be able to search all of your containers to find a specific item. Unfortunately, there isn’t an iPhone app out there, although you can access Boxmeup’s mobile website using an iPhone.
With Polaris Office, you can manage Microsoft Office files from the road; it serves as a reliable alternative to Apple’s iWork. You’ll be able to edit, create and sync Microsoft Office files on your phone. The app works for all phones, although the Polaris Office 5 version, which costs $12.99 and works on both iPhones and iPads, is probably the best edition as it won the PCMag Editors’ Choice Award. The Android version is free.