Best apps for small businesses

Whether they’re saving you time, increasing your productivity, or making you more secure, installing amazing new business apps is the workplace equivalent of opening presents on Christmas day. Those “How did we manage before?” moments give everyone a lift, and mark another step forward in the evolution of your business.

There are lots of fantastic business apps around that could help. Here are a few that we think could make a big difference to small businesses everywhere.

LastPass – keep all your passwords in one place

We use more online programs and services than ever before. They make our lives easier, simplify business processes, and improve productivity. Until you forget your password — then you’re stuck.

If you’re tired of resetting forgotten passwords then LastPass is an essential. It stores all your passwords in one place, so you only have to remember one. LastPass will log you straight into sites in just one click, and let you share passwords simply and securely across teams.

It will even add to your online security by creating complex passwords for you, so you don’t have ‘childsfirstname86’ as the password on all your accounts.

Slack – the messaging app to save you from your inbox

Ever had days where all you do is look through, read and send emails? If your inbox is an exasperating drain on your time, then Slack could be the answer to your prayers.

Slack is an internal messaging app that lets teams, departments and whole businesses speak to each other easily. As well as direct messages, you can set up channels for specific topics (industry news, customer feedback) to keep everyone informed. Then if you start a new project, you can create a channel for the people involved.

The big difference is being able to easily navigate to the conversation you want, rather than digging through old emails. You can also share files and images, and set up channels with suppliers or partners if they have it too. There’s a whole host of useful plugins as well — for example you can set up a report to pull in performance data every week so it’s shared with your team automatically.

Intuit Quickbooks – simple, straightforward accounting

Managing your financial accounts and keeping your books up to date is vital for making informed business decisions. If you struggle to keep track there are lots of different tools around to help, but even if you have a dedicated accounts team, Intuit Quickbooks could make the whole process easier and more efficient.

Quickbooks gives you a real-time view of your financial accounts so you can make up-to-the minute decisions. It simplifies expenses and invoice tracking, helps you calculate tax and can be used to run your payroll. Bringing together essential features at reasonable costs, this easy to use business app will save you heaps of time, and probably a few headaches too.

Wunderlist – organise your life

Are you a list maker? Do you get kicks from crossing out completed tasks? Or do you just keep everything upstairs and back yourself to remember? Either way, Wunderlist could help you.

Wunderlist helps you track all your tasks on its straightforward interface. It has features you would expect like setting reminders and making notes, but also lets you share items with friends or co-workers and allows them comment, so you can see any feedback right there in your workflow. And it syncs across all your devices so you never miss a task again.

Get more tips on managing your time more effectively.

Salesforce – the easy way to manage your sales leads

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems can be complex and confusing for everyone except the guy who installed it. However, tracking all your customer prospects, leads, and existing customers is crucial to keep those sales coming in. Salesforce is one of the largest CRM and sales pipeline tools, and although it’s seen by many as an enterprise level solution, it has a range of plans to suit different budgets and needs.

The basic package comes with the lead tracking essentials. You can then upgrade for extra data capabilities and campaign management, or go for the premium package for deep integration and customisation.

It’s functionality makes it the leading CRM tool for small businesses globally, and it has the options you’ll need as your business grows.

Google drive – work and collaborate in the cloud

One or two of you have probably heard of Google, you may have even googled yourself. What you might not have done is use some of their free tools. Following a similar vein to Microsoft Office, they provide word documents, spreadsheets, presentations, forms and drawing tools.

However, unlike Office, all your work is automatically saved online in the cloud, and you can go back to previous versions. No more will forgetting to hit save lose you hours of work – Google saves it all!

It also makes collaboration far easier. Simply share a link and everyone can access and work on the same document, rather than having to save and send each time. You can tag people in comments, make suggestions and grant or remove editing access.

The only downside is that it doesn’t have all the features of Office. If you need to do some serious spreadsheeting, it may not be suitable, but for most tasks it can make your life much simpler.

iZettle – take card payments anywhere

Like to take your wares on the road, or operate from remote locations? In a world where we’re becoming increasingly reliant on plastic or mobile payments, you don’t want to miss out on extra sales by accepting cash only.

Fortunately, iZettle makes it easy to take card payments from anywhere. All you need is a phone or tablet with an internet connection. Accepting more cards than most restaurants you go to, it takes Mastercard, Visa, Amex, Diners Club and more. Plus it can handle contactless, chip and pin, swipe and Apple, Google and Samsung Pay.  

The card reader will last you 8 hours and can be charged by USB or in it’s dock. The app also has a host of features to give you a complete Point of Sale solution.

Next time you find yourself surrounded by card-only 20-somethings all desperate to buy your burgers or shiny jackets, make sure you have an iZettle to hand.

Expensify – the easy way to track expenses

 Hate digging through your drawer for old receipts? Cut down on your business admin with Expensify, a quick and simple way to track expenses across your team.

With Expensify you can take a picture of receipts with your phone and it’ll capture the relevant info for you. It also integrates with your credit cards and travel apps like Uber, again cutting down on manual entry. Another popular feature is tracking your miles on business trips, as well as currency conversions for international teams.

It syncs with accounts and CRM software, plus you can pull expense report and track them on the go. Plans start from £7 per user, and there’s a free trial to test the waters. If you hate the month end scramble to gather your expenses, this could be the app for you.

If you’re looking for a loan to help grow or better manage your business, you can check if you qualify for a Funding Circle loan in just 30 seconds.