Apps—we hear about them nonstop whether we’re in the business world or not. The banking apps and the apps to entertain your kids while you’re out at dinner, and let’s not forget the pranayama breathing app that helps you center yourself in the midst of a stressful workday—the jury is still out on its efficacy.

But if you own or operate a small to medium-sized business, there are definitely apps for you, and some of them aren’t really optional if you’re serious about business, certainly tracking your online business and how well your sales conversions are doing, how much traffic is being driven to your website via social media, or how many of your weekly newsletters are being opened and utilized to reach your site or social media profiles. But there is more to apps than all that, and 2013 was a pivotal year for many highly well designed, practical, and valuable apps.

DropBox is to today’s entrepreneur what Outlook and MacMail have been in (recent) generations past. To a degree—a much higher degree. With DropBox, you can add file folder after file folder, fill each one with appropriate files, images, and notes, and keep them organize by client or project, or by titles like marketing, publishing, design, content, and so on. DropBox allows you to invite member to specific folders, which is a must for privacy in business, especially when nondisclosure agreements have been signed, and when specific clients have a very high need for privacy.

If you are a small business owner or contractor trying to keep up with a million assignments and what seems like a million clients, Evernote will save your life—and may literally save your business. Why? With its notes, alarms, tags, to-do lists, and more, in the opinion of most, it is absolutely the best way to organize assignments, deadlines, special notes, and more—and even though it’s free, Evernote has the option to attach files, images, and more. Of course, there are paid, upgrade versions of Evernote, but when you realize you need it, you’ll know. But perhaps its best feature if collaboration is your main goal, Evernote allows you invite your staff, clients, and other third parties to view the contents of your Evernote account. It’s truly a game changer, and in many ways, has shaken up the old ways of business organizational thinking—borrowing some of the aspects of the Franklin Covey method, it skyrockets above it with its digitalized abilities. Try to get your Monarch Franklin to do that.

With apps like Vesper, the days of busting out the legal pad and ballpoint pen are over. Instead, drop into the conference call or board meeting with your tablet or smartphone with Vesper in tow and prepare to not only take better notes than you ever did on that old (disorganized) notepad, it also allows you drop in images when needed. What’s more, all the info is immediately accessible when your note taking is done, you can scroll through using keywords, and send the notes and images you “jotted down” as an email to yourself or others. It takes “taking minutes” to a whole new, way cooler, and more effective plane.

Of course, there are other apps that make on-the-go business much easier for small and medium-sized business owners, including the MailChimp app, the Google Analytics app, and Facebook Pages Manager. When you combine all of these apps onto one smartphone, tablet, or other device, you remove the issues that we faced even five years ago as busy impresarios. Think about what prior generations had to do to stay focused: steno pads, legal pads, day planners, memorandums, to-do lists, circled days on calendars, and more. This heap of information was (and for some, still is) difficult to navigate. But with productivity apps like DropBox, Evernote, and Vesper, among others, on your side, along with a rock solid Android or iPhone calendar with notification reminders, you almost have to try to miss a deadline or important meeting.

infographic via: App Promo