Web, smartphone and tablet apps are the future of small business tools. Tasks that used to require dedicated, expensive equipment can be accomplished in the browser and on mobile devices. These apps keep your business information at your fingertips, and easy to communicate to other key personnel. The biggest problem with apps (whether on the web or in the popular mobile app stores) is that the market is saturated – making it hard to surface the diamonds among the coal without help. To that end, here are nine apps for your phone and browser that should help your small business thrive.

  1. Prosper Remember microlending in the 2000s? Where regular folks could lend $50 or $100 to a third-world merchant so they could build their business? Prosper combines that concept with Kickstarter-style crowdfunding. You create a profile and ask for a loan. Investors sign up to lend you the cash. All on your phone.
  2. FreshBooks A bookkeeping app for the rest of us, Freshbooks lets you track spending, billing and income and store the data in the Cloud. Where Quickbooks is robust to the point of being unnecessarily complicated for most small businesses, Freshbooks is streamlined and easy to use.
  3. Campfire You’ve probably heard of Campfire, but it’s surprising how many people don’t yet use it. This is the app for communication and collaboration between team members working from remote locations. From chats to full project collaboration, the Campfire suite remains on the top of the pile.
  4. Evernote This app’s logo is a stylized elephant. It’s not the Republican party’s newest gizmo, but a program designed to help you “remember everything.” Store voice notes, text, photo and video according to your organization scheme for later retrieval. This may be the ultimate data collection device for use with the celebrated Getting Things Done method.
  5. Bump Virtual business cards. Not just virtual business cards you can insert into emails and similar communication, but a program that literally trades contact information when you bump to smartphones together. Apt to replace the traditional “fist bump” of greeting within the next ten years.
  6. Square Less than ten years ago, processing credit cards meant leasing an expensive machine — and the machine had to stay plugged into your phone jack unless you wanted an even more expensive portable unit. Square is the solution, offering competitive rates for using your tablet or smart phone to process credit cards. Requires a “swiper” unit you plug in to the headphone jack.
  7. Remember the Milk A virtual to-do list, this web service lets you enter all of your tasks and provides you with agendas and reminder messages according to your preferences. The app gives you real-time access from your portable device.
  8. TripIt A simple app with free and upgrade versions that helps you organize the details of your business trips. Not necessary if you only take that one simple trip each year, but a true lifesaver for those who travel frequently on complex junkets.
  9. QuickOffice One of the onlymobile  apps that lets you alter as well as view your Office or Google documents from a smart phone. Excellent for making those last-second changes in the elevator or waiting for your flight.

Looking for a way to text message your customers? Ez Texting has a popular web app for that!