If you're like many small business owners, you rely on your smartphone even more than your desktop or laptop. To ensure they don't miss a beat whether at home, in the car or at a client's office, what smartphone apps do successful entrepreneurs owners rely on? These 9 mobile phone apps make running your business a snap.
1. Expense tracking: If, like me, you travel a lot on business and hate dealing with paper receipts, install Expensify and you won't have to. Just snap a photo of receipts; Expensify stores them in the cloud and categorizes the expenses. It integrates with QuickBooks, Xero and your credit card accounts. The mobile app is free with an Expensify account ($5/month).
2. Automation: IFTTT (which stands for "If this, then that") is a cool app that lets you create "recipes" for automating tasks you do frequently. For example, you can set up a recipe to get notified whenever you get an email from an important client or to send a thank-you to new Twitter followers. And, the best part? It's free.
3. Social media management: You've got the mobile apps for all your social media accounts, of course. But toggling from app to app takes up precious time. Use Hootsuite to simplify things by scheduling, interacting and managing all social media activity from your phone. It works with your desktop dashboard and comes for Android and iOS; get the free plan for up to three social accounts or upgrade to the Pro for $9.99/month.
4. Mapping app: Some type of mapping app is essential to get you to and from clients' offices quickly. Google Maps has the advantage of real-time traffic and is better for searching out local businesses such as the nearest Starbucks or UPS Store. If you have an iPhone, Apple Maps is better for quick directions to clients' offices--it automatically accesses any addresses stored in your address book.
5. Remembering stuff: Evernote turns your smartphone into a virtual notebook. Scan and save photos or documents, input or dictate text or ideas, clip and save images, web pages or hyperlinks. Basically, think of Evernote as the digital version of your Filofax, except you never have to worry about losing it. Start with the free version, then upgrade to business-level versions for you (and your team) if needed. Available for Android, iOS and Windows.
6. Cloud-based storage: If you're not already using some type of cloud storage app for your data and documents, the ease of accessing your work remotely from your phone will convince you it's time. Google Drive is free and offers lots of features; although its interface is a bit clunky, just about everyone you work with already has a Google account and can access it. Other top contenders are Box, Dropbox or Microsoft's OneDrive. The choice is up to you--try them all and see which works best. (If, for some reason, you don't want to store your data in the cloud, the LogMeIn app lets you access your desktop or laptop computer back at the office from anywhere; prices start at $99/year.)
7. Signing documents: Ever been on a business trip when an important contract at the office needed your signature, now? With DocuSign, just get a link emailed to you, click on it to open and sign the document. There is a free trial to see if it is a fit for you.
8. Videoconferencing: You may not want to hold a meeting from the back of a taxi, but you can if you must with GoToMeeting. Organize, invite and host videoconferences from any device using the phone line or VoIP. Try the free plan, then upgrade to the Pro plan for $39/month.
9. Accept payments: Is there anything simpler than paying with Square? Accepting payments with it is almost as easy. Download the app for iPhone or Android, use the dongle to swipe credit or debit cards. Restaurants or salons can add tips easily; invoice-based businesses can create and send invoices in a jiff. The app is free; you pay a per-transaction fee.