Times are changing. Fast. Not long ago, running a successful business required a handful of skilled employees who understood the business, a trendy service or product, and a loyal customer base who’d be willing to stick with your business as long as you continued to show them a good experience. In the current, tech-centric world, however, business success means staying on top of the latest trends in the tech world and using them to stay competitive.
Mobile apps have taken the business world by storm, with late adopters losing out on many emerging opportunities. The number of apps on the two most popular application stores, Google Play and the Apple App Store, has already crossed the 4 million mark, which shows how quickly this industry segment is growing.
While many of these apps are often a great source of distraction, most of them can enrich your work and personal life in many different ways. Business owners can use these apps for a wide range of activities – from managing large projects and complex tasks to scheduling simple appointments and managing emails.
Check out some of the ways smart apps can help you grow your business, improve productivity and enhance work-life balance.
1. Team Interaction and Communication
Communication is a vital component of a healthy business organization, whether you’re working with a team of virtual freelancers or in an office with full-time employees. However, relying on phone calls, text messages, and other archaic communication methods can be detrimental to this process, especially in a world where critical business decisions are being made by the second.
Making an app part of that communication process between team members helps improve efficiency and enhance productivity. Trello and Slack are two of the most popular apps for enhancing team interaction and communication. Both of these apps enable team members to share files, initiate group discussions, track deadlines and assign and keep track of tasks and projects – all in real-time. Plus, you can archive interactions on these platforms, which means you can assess progress and the goings-on at the end of a busy day.
2. Staying Organized
For those of us who weren’t particularly born with the OCD gene, staying on top of things professionally and in our personal lives can be quite hectic. It always feels like there are a thousand things to do at the same time, leading to missed appointments, misplaced business documents, and a bucketful of frustration.
Staying organized goes hand in hand with personal and business productivity. If you often find yourself trying to remember points from important meetings or scribbling down notes on paper and forgetting where you put them, Evernote was created just for you. Evernote is a simple app that not only lets you take notes during a meeting, but also comes with a neat feature that lets you record voice notes alongside text.
Combine this app with Dropbox and Google Drive and you have access to your notes, images, voice files, and other important folders straight from your phone, anywhere across multiple devices. Of course, you will need to optimize your business for smart devices to take advantage of all the benefits of these apps.
3. Personal Assistant
As businesses grow, many business owners often find it difficult to keep up with small elements of their work and personal lives. It begins with the small things – getting late to client meetings because you mixed up dates on your diary or missing them entirely because you forgot to note them down. As emails become insurmountable, many of them go without a response, potentially seeing you miss business opportunities.
For many small businesses without sufficient capital to employ a personal assistant, there are a ton of smart apps that can work perfectly as substitutes. If you’re running on Windows Mobile or Android, Cortana and Google Now are among the best (and free) apps for entrepreneurs looking for a help with daily tasks and appointments. Such apps even go beyond the services of your regular personal assistant. A simple weather app can ensure you get prepared for your travel by receiving a daily VU forecast and pollen allergy alert and an intelligent app gives you hotel suggestions with discounts and freebies.
4. Accounting and Financial Management
A good business makes money. A sustainable and profitable business keeps track of its income and expenses, which can be quite a challenge for small businesses without an accounting department. Poor financial management is one of the main reasons why most startups and small businesses close shop within their formative years. To grow your business, you need to keep track of every financial transaction – from the small receipts at the gas station to the invoices and quotations for individual projects.
Finding a good app here is often a challenge, partly because businesses often vary when it comes to handling their finances. However, apps like Expensify can come in handy for the entrepreneurs, especially those who are often on the move. Expensify lets users take photos of their receipts which it scans and extracts the amount and other relevant information on the receipt for later reference.
As you’ve seen, mobile apps don’t have to be distractions. These apps and the smartphones that run them can help you build a competitive and sustainable business while enabling you to achieve the work-life balance that eludes so many entrepreneurs.