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Capital One has produced several years’ worth of TV ads about its credit cards. These always end with “Capital One – what’s in your wallet?” This same question should be asked of every business owner in regards to what apps s/he is using to make that business operate smoothly. There are many distinct functions with the realm of operations:

  • Basic management functions –HR, accounting, time management
  • Project/task management
  • Communication within the organization
  • Customer relations
  • Marketing/Sales

And fortunately, because your business exists in this age, there are apps and tools for almost every business function – apps and tools that will streamline your operations, help with marketing, manage customer relations, keep your team communicating, and manage both time and projects. Here are 15 apps that every business owner should have.

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Web Presence

  1. WordPress

This app is by far the easiest and most function website design tool. No one in your business needs to know code to design a sleek and engaging website and an accompanying blog. The blog is an important part of your marketing strategy, and using WordPress allows plugins for almost everything from reader sharing, to conversations between readers and you, and to SEO enhancement. WordPress blogs are simple to setup and use, so that individuals within a company can post educational, entertaining, and inspirational articles on a regular basis. When you can bring readers to your blog, you can use many of the features to get conversions. It is open-sourced and lots of community support and sharing.

  1. Hootsuite – Manage Your Social Media Marketing

A presence on social media is no longer options for a business. It’s where customers flock to get news and information, research products and services and make decisions about organization with whom they will do business. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram are widely used platforms and are used to develop relationships with target customers and to drive traffic to your website. It’s already a daunting task to produce content for all of these platforms, but at least the publishing and distribution can be managed automatically through Hootsuite. You can create posts well in advance, pre-determine a publishing schedule, upload them on your account with instructions, and Hootsuite will do the rest. The other very cool thing about the app is this: it will monitor activity on all of your platforms and report the amount and type of activity that is occurring. You can use that information to evaluate and improve your presence.

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Customer Relations Management

There is no lack of customer relations apps that will allow you to track customer activity, communication, resolution of issues, returns. You want to stay on top of customer service/relations at all times. This is no longer a paper/pencil, hardcover or Excel function. It can now be comprehensively managed with cloud-based apps that any member of your team can access as the need arises.

  1. Desk

In the past, sales forces were responsible for managing relations with their customers. Then came the customer service department, but it had to rely and get information from the sales force to do its job. Now, with a comprehensive system, all customer relations can be handled by any team member. This app lets you request and receive customer feedback, track all communication between any team member and an individual customer, and to ensure that customer experiences before, during and after the sale are good. Unhappy customers will trash you all over social media, and this app makes sure that no customer gets ignored and that issues get resolved quickly.

  1. Salesforce

Salesforce is a more comprehensive CRM system because it includes all of the functions of Desk but also has tools for lead generation. It is a popular app because it is scalable as your business grows. It is extremely popular for businesses of all sizes.

Master-of-Science-in-Accounting

Accounting

One of the best things to happen to small and mid-sized business owners is the ease with which accounting functions can now be handled. Plenty of new apps require little more than entering figures, and all accounting functions are then handled by the app and held in the cloud so nothing gets lost.

  1. Wave

One of the best features of this app is that it is free. It will take care of accounts, invoices, payments, spreadsheets, and even organize information for tax purposes. You can also tie the app into your bank accounts and PayPal if you use it. There are lots of fee-based options too, such as adding employee payroll, and this is an app that can grow with you. It is one of the most highly recommended accounting apps.

  1. Expensify

If you have telecommuters and employees who are out in the field, this is the perfect app for tracking all expenses and producing expense reports based on your specific requirements. It works on all devices. Take a picture of a receipt with your phone, drop it into you Expensify account with a category name that you have previously set up, and the app will do the rest.

Human resources and self-development. Modern business - vector illustration
Human resources and self-development. Modern business – vector illustration

Project Management/Internal Communication

There are a huge number of apps that fall into this category that help business owners manage projects, assign tasks, track task completion, and allow all team members, no matter where they may physically be, to have access to the same information regarding progress and to share in problem-solving activities.

  1. Dropbox

This app is probably the most popular platform to store files in the cloud that everyone can access. Sharing information this way is especially helpful for businesses that have telecommuters. Dropbox is not free but you can get a quote for your business, and it operates on all systems and devices.

  1. KanbanFlow

Here is a tool for project and task management that allows managers to assign tasks to team members, schedule due dates, and upload all documents. Those who have access can modify documents as tasks need to be added or modified, and the app will keep a full history of all version of any documents and changes made. The basic version is free; premium version is $5/month – a bargain for all that you get.

  1. Trello

If you want a visual representation of project management and all tasks, this app is perfect. There are cards for each project you set up, and they can be moved from one list or one individual to another, as the status of a project moves along or needs to be modified. Team members can chat with one another, in order to share ideas and collaborate. $3.75/month per user

  1. Wunderlist

This app is often compared to a big to-do list, and that is a good description. Tasks lists can be created, posted in the cloud, and everyone can see all items on every list. As tasks re-completed they are removed. Delegation of tasks, breaking tasks down into sub-tasks, adding notes and establishing deadlines are all additional features. Cost is $4.99/month per user. It’s a pretty powerful tool if you have a good-sized team that must collaborate a lot on projects.

  1. Fuze

If you need video conferencing among team members or with customers, this is the tool for you. It works on all devices and systems. Really high-def visual and great audio. There is a free 30-day trial before you purchase. Check it out.

marketing concept with business graph and chart hand drawing on blackboard
marketing concept with business graph and chart hand drawing on blackboard

Marketing

An obvious critical function – this is how you get, nurture, and retain customers and clients. And so much of this occurs online because that is where consumers now go for their information and recommendations. Fortunately, there are some great apps for all functions of your marketing program.

  1. Optimizely

If you are looking for one an all-in-one tool to analyze and perform marketing functions, this is it. Among its many features is analytics that will tell you who is accessing your online platforms and when that is happening. You will know which platforms are working well. You will be able to personalize marketing by re-targeting with specific ads to target customer bed upon what they viewed on your site, which will help you to generate more leads. There is also a testing feature that allows you to know, for example which type of CTA button works the best.

  1. LeadGen

This tool complements Optimizely well. You will know not only who visited your site but how long s/he stayed and which products engaged him/her for what amounts of time. You’ll be able to reach out to a target customer by personal contact.

  1. MailChimp

This email generation app is the most highly recommended of all such tools because of its amazing set of features and functions. You can create emails for your entire list, set up groups for targeted email distribution and get reports on who opened and shared them. No matter what size you email list, it will probably be covered by the free version. Once you grow over 2000 subscribers, you will get into the fee-based range.

A Bonus App Recommendation

As a business owner, you are obviously a busy person. You read lots of news and content related to your niche. You even try to train your brain to somehow remember it all. No longer do you need to worry about losing or forgetting something important. Download Pocket. Anytime you come across an article or a post, drop it into this app and it will be saved for later reading or use. Perfect solution.

Conclusion

As a startup, you have two challenges: Get everything done as efficiently as possible with as little staff cost as possible, and streamline those tasks that you just don’t have time for. These 9 tools will do that for you. Incorporate their use and you have what you need to move forward.