Many small business owners attribute their success to simply acquiring the most helpful resources for their needs. This includes employees, professional services (accountants, lawyers,) and technology. It’s safe to say the role of the third example has increased dramatically as of late. This makes sense because today’s market demands the utmost efficiency, and apps allow entrepreneurs to handle vital responsibilities with much less time and effort.
Everything from accounting to inventory management to employee benefits: If it’s important to small businesses, there’s probably an app for it, and for a low cost. Lots of apps can even automate these tasks while entrepreneurs focus on what they do best: make money!
The massive array of apps to choose from, however, can make it difficult to find the exact services you’re looking for. After all, every entrepreneur has their own definition of “easy to use.” That’s why we’ve put together this list of 46 of popular small business apps, broken out by the service they offer. Read on to learn what makes each app special and what kind of businesses they cater to:
Small Business Apps: Budgeting
Mint provides weekly reports so you can track your spending accurately and maintain your budget. The ability to set budgets for sub-categories of expenses makes Mint especially appealing for restaurants looking to keep tabs on alcohol, supplies, equipment, etc. You can also use Mint to pull credit reports and bank statements.
Unlike most other budgeting apps, Wally enables you to scan receipts and directly implement them into your financial records. Users can immediately factor this data into future plans, instead of entering it manually or waiting for receipts to sync with bank statements.
Goodbudget has the same general function as Mint, but offers higher levels of customization. Users have more capabilities in addition to budget sub-categories. Thus, some entrepreneurs might find Goodbudget overly complicated and hard to get the hang of.
4. You Need a Budget
Though You Need a Budget (YNAB) is designed primarily for budgeting, its best feature is similar to Lasting Bond’s: filtering financial data to determine more efficient spending strategies. YNAB also offers free courses in budgeting and managing small business finances. After your first month, however, you have to pay to use the app moving forward.
If you just want to track spending without all the technical features offered by the other apps, you should definitely consider Spendee. This app prioritizes simplicity, rather than bombarding you with data.
6. Home Budget With Sync
Home Budget With Sync provides budgeting services for groups, and is therefore geared towards families. Many entrepreneurs, however, have realized that this transparent format also works very well with their co-owners and employees. After all, there’s a good chance you spend more time with your team than your actual family.
Small Business Apps: Accounting
QuickBooks get mentioned so often that it’s easy to forget its central purpose: all-things accounting. This famously user-friendly app will gently walk you through its myriad services, which include tax planning, payroll, creating financial statements, and inventory management. If you need help with specific tasks, you won’t have to look far for online guides.
The amount of services at your disposal, though, depends on the version you pay for. Most users upgrade as their business grows. The smaller your business, the less you’ll probably have to pay. And yes, the most basic version still offers plenty of capabilities.
Much like QuickBooks, TurboTax offers numerous accounting services in one place. Uncertain users should at least take advantage of the free trial to decide if TurboTax checks your individual boxes.
One of the cheapest accounting apps in existence, FreshBooks offers basic services but specializes in monitoring invoices and cash flow. Freshbooks may also have the best customer service in the accounting world.
Accounting services get a bit more technical with InDinero, which provides crystal clear financial analytics. In addition to monitoring cash flow, users can detect trends in revenue and spending and even order financial reports typically required by investors and business lenders.
5. Sage Intact
While it’s not designed specifically for small businesses, you should look into Sage Intact if you’re particularly concerned about data breaches. Sage Intact’s cloud-based security can safeguard sensitive information, and certain industries simply cannot risk leaving this data in the hands of conventional security measures.
Wave specializes in invoicing, payroll, and basic accounting services. Sounds pretty generic, right? Well, did we mention that it’s completely free, for both desktop and mobile? Users also get one of those handy receipt scanners along with top-notch customer service.
Small Business Apps: Inventory Management
1. Inventory Tracker
Inventory Tracker provides comprehensive data in regards to sales, orders, and even trade credit with vendors. Users can track items by scanning bar codes and inputting information that then gets drafted into spreadsheets. This app ultimately eliminates the notoriously tedious task of “taking inventory.”
2. SOS Inventory
If you usually have to manage large amounts of inventory, SOS Inventory can make your life much less hectic. It integrates with QuickBooks, meaning all the data gets immediately transferred into the SOS Inventory system. Users can easily keep track of inventory stored in multiple locations, organize items in several categories, and view each item’s cost history. SOS Inventory can also create tickets and packing slips.
Lettuce’s main function is inventory management but it also offers several other services like payment management and customer relationship maintenance. As you can see, some apps feature “all-in-one” formats so entrepreneurs don’t have to look in too many different places for critical information.
Small Business Apps: Point of Sale
Square has become the go-to payment processing app, and for good reason. Regardless of your business’s size or the price of your items, Square takes a flat 2.75% of each debit or credit card transaction. That’s their only fee. You don’t have to pay for the Square app or the hardware they send you to swipe your customer’s cards. There’s other apps like Square, but when it comes to the task of payment processing, none can currently compete with its cost and simplicity.
2. PayPal Here
Along with debit and credit cards, PayPal Here can process checks and invoices through your mobile phone. You must set up a PayPal account, however, to use PayPal Here.
3. QuickBooks GoPayment
QuickBooks GoPayment processes debit and credit cards through your phone’s camera, either through swiping or scanning the card. You can also use this Intuit app to review payment data and track performance of individual items.
4. AccuPOS Restaurant
This comparably expensive app is designed specifically for restaurants. Its point of sale system dramatically simplifies the bill-paying process and, in turn, guarantees stellar customer service for your patrons. AccuPOS Restaurant also integrates with many other point of sale systems and accounting apps like QuickBooks.
5. Revel Systems
Revel Systems can turn your iPad (yes, just iPad) into a multi-service point of sale system. This app’s numerous features include delivery management (to place and track purchase orders), customer relationship management (to keep track of customer preferences), and inventory management. Revel Systems also integrates with Quickbooks and can track labor hours to ensure correct payments for employees.
Small Business Apps: Employee Management/Communication
TSheets acts as an alternative to paper timesheets or punch cards by tracking employee schedules and automating timesheets so you can process payroll accurately. This app can also integrate with QuickBooks along with various other basic accounting platforms.
In addition to processing payroll, Gusto can manage employee benefits, calculate and file payroll taxes (federal and state), and keep track of employee sick days and vacation days. Many new businesses enjoy Gusto due to its simple layout, which lessens the stress of integrating payroll taxes or health benefits into employee paychecks for the first time.
Proven streamlines the entire hiring process, which includes posting job listings on different sites, filtering for the applications that suit your needs, and marking applications so you know to revisit them.
Few manual tasks waste more time than expense reports. Expensify allows entrepreneurs to seamlessly scan receipts and process employee expenses from their mobile phones.
The famously affordable Neat manages invoices, receipts, taxes, and expenses by scanning them through your mobile phone’s camera. It can also automate several basic bookkeeping services.
Slack is the most popular instant messaging app, and not just because of its main service. With Slack, it’s very easy to share files (word documents, PowerPoints, etc.), hold conference calls, create group chats, and access messages from old chats through the app’s search function. New users can take advantage of free trials and decide if they want to purchase the premium version.
Businesses that do a lot of video conferencing should definitely look into Fuze. This app eliminates the bugs and lost connections we’ve all experienced with traditional conferencing services. Any device can also join conferences (and in high-definition) when you host through Fuze.
The undisputed king of video chat apps, Microsoft’s Skype allows you to send instant messages, share files, and host conferences with up to 25 other users.
Teamdeck combines the basic elements of project management and employee management tools into one app. Users can track labor hours, assign and schedule tasks, and monitor progress in the form of different KPIs (key performance indicators). You can also draft customizable reports to assess the performance of the whole team.
Small Business Apps: Customer Management
Belly’s business model stems from the widespread success of customer loyalty programs. The app tracks customer data so you can create unique points programs for individual customers. For example, if one of your customers usually purchases the same items, you can create point program around those preferences and ultimately ensure that customer’s loyalty. Belly also offers targeted social media marketing, email marketing, and analytics software to monitor performance from both services.
AppSuite has the same primary function as Belly. It integrates with your point-of-sale software to create individual points programs (like gift cards) based on your customer’s preferences.
Businesses that use invoices and frequently deal with late-paying customers can save loads of time through InvoiceCare, which integrates with your accounting software to produce separate accounts receivable data for each customer. InvoiceCare’s staff will contact your customers via email or phone when they fail to pay on time, follow up politely until payment comes in, and send thank-you messages.
FundingGates does the same things as InvoiceCare but also offers access to accounts receivable financing when you need cash immediately and customers haven’t paid up. This app also recommends which customer to contact next to maintain healthy cash flow.
Due offers a variety of services, such as invoicing, credit and debit card processing, and its digital wallet. In addition to creating and organizes invoices, users can see when customers view their invoices and automate numerous features for customers like late fees and early payment discounts. Due’s digital wallet functions like Venmo: Users can accept and send money to customers in as little as one business day.
Businesses with subscription models can dramatically simplify their recurring billing systems with Chargify. The app’s services will make it easier for your customers to pay you, as well.
7. Sell on Etsy
Etsy has an app designed specifically for its sellers, as opposed to offering one app for buyers and sellers, like eBay. The Sell on Etsy app lets you manage customer orders, process payments, edit your store’s official page and more, all from the comfort of your mobile phone.
Small Business Apps: Project Management
This cloud-based note-taking app exposed the value of archiving very early on. Evernote users can create notes consisting of text, drawings, photographs, or saved web pages. The ability to tag, annotate, and search for these notes prevents them from getting lost. Evernote also offers task management services and is free to use with monthly usage limits.
Another note-taking app, Wunderlist simplifies the act of creating and maintaining large amounts of lists. Users can share lists, assign individual tasks to other users, and set reminders for project due dates, upcoming tasks, etc.
LivePlan provides several templates and myriad useful tips for creating business plans, pitches, and infographics. This app also integrates with accounting software to offer budget and revenue tracking services.
Bloggers and small media companies enjoy this file-sharing workflow app. The free version of Samepage basically gives you blank pages to customize with your own titles and categories. So, you just have to think of all the stages your work goes through (getting assigned, getting approved, scheduled for publishing, etc.) and create categories for each stage. Users can post comments on files (like suggestions for edits) and then discuss them in the app’s chat feature.
The makers of RescueTime know how distracting the Internet can be and have offered a logical solution: an app that tracks your time on sites and apps. Users set goals for how they wish to spend their time, both online and offline. RescueTime then creates weekly reports that allow users to identify their triggers for procrastination. The premium version features alerts to limit your time on certain activities (“You’ve spent ___ hours on ___ today”) and even blockers to completely avoid your worst triggers.
Monday’s task management format works best for teams in which each member has a relatively small number of daily and/or weekly tasks. Next to each task, users can see when it was assigned, when it’s due, descriptions (what they actually have to do), and the progress (20% finished, etc.).
You can also set recurring tasks (daily, quarterly, etc.) to automatically re-appear at certain intervals. The aforementioned disclaimer stems from the fact that if you have lots of individual tasks, the recurring feature can make each user’s page pretty overwhelming.
Trello’s card-based system provides an alternatively convenient way to create, assign, monitor, and update tasks. Owners of growing businesses might prefer this system if they’ve never worked with larger teams and need to stay on top of each member’s productivity. Trello integrates with Evernote and other popular project management apps, so you can easily transfer over all of your work if you decide to go from one to the other.
8. Kanban Flow
Kanban Flow offers one of the least complicated project management systems available. It’s even simpler than Trello, and the app provides analytics reporting for efficiency-related statistics, too.
Asana takes yet another approach to project management. The app’s customizable format essentially lets you choose your own interface, or display the tasks in any sort of visual arrangement. For larger, multi-person projects, users can view the progress of every task involved on one page and extend timelines when tasks take longer than expected.
Basecamp’s format gives each user six categories: their message board (inbox), to-do list, group chat, schedule, automatic check-ins, and file storage for documents and images. It’s not hard to imagine why certain teams would prefer this homepage format over the traditional topical navigation system.
Small Business Apps: Which Ones Should You Choose?
You don’t necessarily need an app to handle every service listed above. The options you choose will likely come down to just a few factors, like your industry and personal preferences. For example, young startups with no human resources departments should prioritize employee management apps, while retail and food service businesses should probably get payment processing out of the way first.
Remember: Apps should make your daily routine easier and more efficient. So, when researching the most sensible options, think about which layouts and formats will allow you to get more done in less time. The decision may very well come down to the apps that make your biggest stressors (invoices, messages, daily tasks, etc.) seem less overwhelming.
Once you find your dream team of apps, you’ll no longer be afraid of the increased workload that usually accompanies business growth.