Focus on being productive instead of busy – Tim Ferris

A greater number of us nowadays are gaining the confidence to go it alone and start a small business. We live in a world of potentially unlimited possibilities, something that seems to have ignited our entrepreneurial spirit.

Undoubtedly, much of this change has been helped by better technology, largely delivered via our smartphones and other devices. Developers all over the world are creating apps designed to make your business run smoother and productively.

Connect Better Than Ever Before

Communication is key to any successful business. Being able to connect with employees and customers, whether you’re in the office or on the move, is vital and can often make the difference between success and failure.

Skype: It remains one of the more popular video conferencing tools on the planet and it’s longevity is undoubtedly down to ease of use. With others services forcing their way into the smart app market, there’s no room for complacency and you can expect Skype to develop useful add-ons in the future. Skype for Business is one of the best value for money services available in the cloud today and links well with Office 365. 

Slack: This a complete team communication tool for small businesses. With the ability to post all sorts of information from document drafts, pdfs and images to organising and streamlining workloads, there’s plenty to help any team collaborate efficiently. You can add unlimited users which means it’s the kind of service which easily grows with your business.

Pushover which allows you to send and receive notifications to and from other users who use the service and Fuze which is another video conferencing app with added HD visuals, both of which are simple to set up.

Manage Your Time

One major issue that all small businesses have is effective time management. When things start to get busy it can be difficult to keep track of everything you or your team has to do. These apps make it much easier.

My Minutes: This isn’t just great for businesses, it’s awesome for your private life too. Take steps to track how you’re spending your time and you’ll suddenly find life is far more productive. While it may be a simple concept, this single app can ensure you devote much less time to procrastination and more time achieving.

Rescue Time: Getting a better work-life balance is important in today’s stress-filled world, particularly if you run your own business. This app allows you to monitor how much time you spend on different applications, such as email and social media, while online. You can then, hopefully, adjust your behaviour to make yourself more productive. A great little tool for small businessess.

Omnifocus: If you want something which helps you manage all aspects of your day or week, this app delivers in spades. Check where you are with existing projects and set your itinerary for the day. The Pro version offers a lot more in terms of usability, allowing you to customise monitoring to a high degree.

Staying well organised is an issue for any small business, especially when there are limited resources. Apps like Proven allow you to keep track of hiring staff when you need them while Evernote is a long standing note jotting service that can sync across all smart devices. Dropbox is a popular app that helps you control and share all projects and documentation in one space.

Make Payments

Of course, being able to take payments lies at the heart of running any business – whether you’re in store or on the move. The good news is that there are plenty of different ways to do this and the scope is widening all the time.

PayPal: One of the oldest payments systems on the internet, this is still the go-to choice for many startups and gives you the chance to process transactions quickly with little or no pain. You can opt to take advantage of their free merchant services or go Pro for a small monthly amount and use their POS equipment including chip and pin machines to diversify payment options.

Expensify: If you run a team or simply want to keep track of your expenses, this is the perfect cloud-based system. You can arrange to track transaction on your credit or debit card so that it automatically goes onto your expenses list or scan and input paper invoices and receipts. 

Square: A sign of what the future holds for payment through smart devices, this is an app and reader system that can actually fit in the pocket. It’s the ideal transaction system for those that find themselves on the move such as food stalls, contractors, and retailers. It can also take payments through systems like Apple Pay. 

Marketing Your Business

An integral part of any new business is the challenge of effective advertising. For small businesses, that means apps which are easy to use, have a low cost and provide lots of marketing power.

Hootsuite: Communication isn’t only down to video and phone, there’s social media as well. Hootsuite allows you to bring together all your social media platforms and monitor performance, post messages and reply to your growing band of customers online. It’s the ideal social media marketing tool for any small business.

Mailchimp: Emailing customers with details of your latest promotion is an artform in itself. It’s also still one of the most effective marketing strategies out there – if you get it right. Mailchimp has been around for a good few years and remains a favourite with small business across many sectors. The app allows you to measure important metrics which in turn enable you to tweak your messages and improve conversions.

Surveymonkey: You don’t get far in the world of business unless you know what your customer is thinking. This free tool is ideal for creating custom surveys that can then inform any marketing campaign or product/service development. With a whole range of templates to choose from, Surveymonkey makes it easy for you to do impactful market research that makes a big difference.