by Jackson McNeill
January 2, 2016
Small business owners are always looking for better ways to manage their company.
iPhone, iPad, and Android apps can definitely be a big part of that.
But which apps are truly “must have?” And which apps are actually going to help you run your business more efficiently, sell products and work collaboratively?
With thousands of apps to choose from, wading through the sea of options can almost seem impossible.
But don’t worry. Take a deep breath.
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This article distills that infinite list down into a small set of excellent apps that can really help your business succeed.
We’ll start by looking at a few apps that have already gained widespread popularity before moving on to hot, new apps that are gaining traction in 2016.
Already Popular Must-Haves
Let’s start with a handful of apps that have already gained widespread use. These are apps you’ve probably heard of, if you aren’t already using them.
1. Square Register (for iPhone, iPad and Android)
You’ve probably seen it or used it without even knowing it. Square Register is an extremely popular app that allows users to turn their iPhone, iPad, or Android into a mobile cash register. Merchants with an iPhone or Android can get a free Square Register that, when combined with the app, allows customers to swipe their credit cards and sign for purchases in any place that has cell phone service.
2. Skype (for almost any platform, including iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac OSX, Windows and Apple Watch)
Skype allows users to make voice calls, video calls, and send messages. The free app is already extremely popular in the non-business context, but works great for businesses as well. Skype even has a business option (for a low monthly fee) that allows companies to organize audio and video meetings securely.
3. Google Docs (for almost any platform, including iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac OSX and Windows)
Google Docs allows you to create documents, spreadsheets, and other files for free while simultaneously storing them online. Because documents are stored online automatically, you never have to worry about forgetting to save your files or losing your cell and all its content. Google Docs also makes it easy to share documents and spreadsheets with others so that coworkers can work collaboratively.
4. Dropbox (for almost any platform, including iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac OSX and Windows)
Dropbox is a cloud-based file storage system. In short, it allows you to store your files and information online. Although the basic application is free, business owners can purchase larger amounts of storage for a reasonable price. Because files are stored online and synced to all of your devices, Dropbox also helps users to share files back and forth, encouraging collaboration.
5. Venmo (for almost any platform, including iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac OSX, and Windows)
Designed primarily as a mobile app, Venmo allows users to send money instantly using their phone, tablet, or desktop. Although Venmo is most popular in the non-business context, allowing users to share cab fares, split restaurant bills, or send money to relatives, it is also becoming more and more popular in the business world. Business owners can use Venmo as an easy way to instantly pay invoices, purchase inventory, or accept customer payments.
Up and Coming in 2015
Now that you know what people are already using, it’s time to talk about some up and coming apps that are sure to help make your business successful and productive in 2015.
6. Evernote (for almost any platform, including iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac OSX, Windows and Apple Watch)
Evernote’s most popular use (and what it was originally designed for) is to allow users to write, record, and share notes—both real and digitally created, typed and handwritten. But Evernote also allows users to share and store these notes online, syncing to all of your devices. If that wasn’t enough, Evernote also allows you to keep a journal, make to-do lists, make and share audio messages, set goals, and much, much, more. Essentially, it’s a comprehensive planner and file keeper all in one.
7. OfficeTime (for Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch)
OfficeTime allows users to keep track of their time and expenses while they work. Very simple and easy to use, OfficeTime is especially useful for businesses and professionals that charge by the minute or hour, or that require their employees to keep billables.
8. Dragon Dictation (for iPad and iPhone)
Dragon Dictation is a straightforward dictation app. More accurate than similar apps, Dragon Dictation can be used to dictate texts and emails, as well as personal notes, reminders, and other documents. This app is especially useful for professionals who have to work while driving. · Invoice2Go (for Android, iPhone, iPad, and the web).
9. Invoice2Go (for iPad, iPhone and Apple Watch)
Invoice2Go allows users to send, receive, track, and pay invoices instantly using its app. Designed for small business owners, Invoice2Go claims that it saves businesses hours each week managing their invoices, and that businesses get paid an average of 7 days earlier.
10. CudaSign (for iPhone, iPad and Android)
CudaSign bills itself as an “electronic signature solution.” In short, CudaSign allows users to electronically sign documents from their tablet or smart phone. The goal is eliminate the need for professionals to sign documents in person, making it faster and easier to deal with leases, contracts, forms, and other documents.
11. Things (for iPhone, iPad, and Mac OSX and Apple Watch)
Things is a new task manager for iOS users. Simple and easy to use, this app allows users to set and manage tasks, create reminders, and organize tasks by area and project.
12. Mailbox (for iPhone, Android and Mac OSX)
Mailbox is an alternative email app for those unsatisfied with their phone’s built in email software. Mailbox is slightly faster, simpler, and easier to use than its built-in alternatives. It also has a useful reminder/delay feature: Mailbox lets you put off messages until later and returns them to your inbox automatically, so you can focus on what’s important at the moment. Whether you’re looking for a way to keep track of invoices or just store your files online, one of these apps is sure to help your business become more efficient and productive.