When it comes to technology, people seem to be at one end of the spectrum or the other. Either they love it and furiously work to figure out all of the new and improved ways to enhance their lives electronically, incorporating them wherever they can, or they hate it, finding any way they can to avoid anything even remotely related to tech.
For those of you in the former category, you likely already have a variety of apps that you count on, both personally and professionally. However, if you’re looking to add to your collection, specifically for the purpose of helping you better run your business, there are a few apps that other business owners say you simply must have.
Team Communication Apps
Voxer (Free Plans Available, Premium Plans Start at $3.99/Mo Per User): Kate Swoboda, founder of Courageous Living Coach Certification, likes using the Voxer app because “it can be problematic to get everyone in a group available for one set meeting time. Voxer allows that group communication because everyone can weigh in by leaving their voice messages and responding to the voice messages of others in one private group thread. Additionally, I use Voxer to communicate with my virtual assistant who is overseas, without long-distance charges.”
Slack (Free Plans Available, Premium Plans Start at $6.67/Mo Per User): Benjamin Surman, founder and CEO of FORTIS, prefers to communicate via Slack as it “basically keeps everything organized for us and our clients. I have multiple ‘teams’ so I can easily keep track of what is going on from the client relations side to finance and, of course, our sales funnels. It integrates with nearly everything out of the box and can be integrated into more custom applications if needed.”
WhatsApp (Free): Jacquie Whitt, co-founder of Adios Adventure Travel, says that, as licensed tour operators with an office in the U.S. and another in Peru, “Communicating on a daily basis is one of the most critical things we do and WhatsApp has turned out to be an amazing solution to communicating by phone or text. Our staff uses the app to stay in touch with each other and we recommend the app to our groups while traveling. It works all the time when we are in range of our normal service providers.” However, Whitt says that “when traveling, it’s necessary to have access to WI-FI to use the app,” so keep that in mind.
Salesforce 1 (Services Start at $25/Mo): “I’m a productivity junkie as a small business owner,” says Emory J. Smith, Principal at EJS Financial Management, LLC, “and there’s one app I can’t live without: Salesforce 1.” Smith uses the app to “manage contacts, dictate notes after client calls/meetings, track case status and manage customer service items, but most importantly, the algorithm reminds me of important client birthdays and anniversaries. Salesforce 1 allows me to provide the excellent customer experience EJS Financial Management is known for—no matter where in the world I am!”
Remember the Milk (Free, Pro Upgrade Available for $39.99/Yr): ChooseWhat founder Leo Welder shares, “The one app that I rely on more than any other is Remember the Milk. What it does for me better than any other to-do app is allow me to categorize, prioritize, and schedule tasks to make sure that I’m always investing my time on the right activities. I’ve been using the app for nearly four years, and, as of this moment, I’ve completed 6,969 tasks.”
Time Tracking Apps
Harvest (Free for 1 User, Additional Plans Available Starting at $12/Mo Per User with Discounted Pricing for Additional Users): Flynn Zaiger, CEO of Online Optimism, swears by Harvest because it “lets me see how my employee’s time is being spent!” Zaiger goes on to say that this app makes it possible to “see who’s working on what project/client and for how long. This lets me make sure we’re being paid enough per client and to be aware of if we’re underservicing or overservicing someone. In addition, with the upcoming overtime laws in the U.S., it’s absolutely essential to making sure you’re not on the wrong side of the law.”
Toggl (Free for Team of Up to 5 People, Pro Plans Start at $9/Mo Per User): Marion Grobb Finkelstein, Workplace Communication Consultant and the face behind MarionSpeaks, says Toggl is an invaluable app because it “tracks my time per project, per client. This way, I know how many hours I’m spending on things and how to charge accordingly. [It] also helps in planning out required time for projects. TIP: everything takes longer than you actually think it does. Using this app is an eye-opening experience.”
Wunderlist (Free Plan Available, Pro Plan is $4.99/Mo): Joe Howard, “Head Buff” at WP Buffs, likes the Wunderlist app because, “Whenever I need to get something done, I can immediately add it to Wunderlist with a due date. I can also share task lists with my remote team, so everyone is always on the same page. It’s really easy to use and only takes a few seconds. It also frees up my brain to think more creatively instead of focusing on everything I need to get done that day!”
Evernote (Basic Plan is Free, Premium Plans Starting at $34.99/Yr): When it comes to organization, Lisa Chu, owner of Black N Bianco Kids Apparel says Evernote is the way to go. “It’s the one app my business cannot function without,” says Chu, “because it syncs in with all of my devices and I use it to store all of my business images, information, and notes. I also use it to create business projects with my employees as it lets me collaborate with other users and keep an eye on the current status of the project. Using Evernote has been very beneficial to keeping me organized, giving me more free time to focus on other aspects of my small business.”
Project Management Apps
Asana (Free for teams of 15 people, Premium Services Available Starting at $8.33/Mo Per Member): Leon Chen, founder of Tiff’s Treats, shares that, “Asana is our most important technology business tool at Tiff’sTreats. It is a teamwork application that lets all members of our team – now over 350 employees – track and manage their activities, whether a team project or individual.” Chen adds that Asana is “how we communicate, track progress, and ensure successful completion of activities ranging from new store openings to cookie promotions to public relations.”
Trello (Free, Upgrades Available Starting at $9.99/Mo): Jared Carrizales, founder of Heroic Search, says, “Our team and our clients are spread out all over the world and Trello helps us on the project management side of things so we can stay properly organized regardless of time zone or client.” Why Trello? “We’re all such a huge fan of the app because of the speed it gives us,” Carrizales says, “as well as being such a useful ‘hub of productivity’ across the board. Trello integrates exceptionally well with other important apps like Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, and many other 3rd party apps.”
Basecamp (1st Account is Free, Additional Accounts Available for Purchase Starting at $29/Mo): Source Capital Funding, Inc.’s Founder and Principal, Sacha Ferrandi, shares that the Basecamp app “is perfect for companies that have employees on the road as users can update projects, assign tasks, and message all within the application. This cuts down on emails and conference calls, streamlines management, and keeps us running very efficiently.” For Ferrandi, Basecamp “solves the problem of organization and task delivery. Every project we have gets placed in Basecamp so there is no need for long email communication and planning meetings. We love how user-friendly it is, how the service has unlimited users, and that managers can easily message and oversee the projects on the app.”
Other Miscellaneous Apps
PaySimple (Monthly Plans Starting at $49.95 + Credit Card Processing Fees): “PaySimple has allowed me to process credit cards with ease,” says Dr. Caitlin Pietrosanto, owner of Hastings on Hudson Chiropractic and Wellness. “As a one-woman show, it is sometimes overwhelming to be the chiropractor, appointment maker, phone person and money collector. With PaySimple, I am easily able to create recurring charges, send invoices, and collect payments in a snap. When there is something as seamless as PaySimple that I can use to quickly collect payments and move on to the next patient, it helps me move my day along.”
Desk.com (Plans Start at $20/Mo): Sam Franklin, CEO and founder of Greenvelope, explains that “Our growth is directly tied to excellent customer support, but as we grew, customer cases began slipping through the cracks. It took more time to identify which customer support emails needed a response than it took to actually respond to them. Desk.com solved this problem for us and keeps us organized by quickly filtering emails and automatically assigning customer support cases so our small team of ten can focus on providing fast, personalized, and efficient customer service to everyone. With Desk.com, we’ve seen tremendous customer growth from 1,000 customers in 2011 to more than 400,000 today.”
Medium (Free): Ed Boland, CEO and co-founder of HeroBoys shares that “The one app I can’t do without is Medium. Medium is a free app in which anyone can post articles they have written on any subject. There is a lot of social, political, travel, and pop culture commentary but it also has some of the best and most helpful business writing being produced today. The main point of most business books can be boiled down to a few pages, that’s what Medium does, and it covers a wide range of topics: from broad topics like leadership, team building, raising capital, management, etc., to very specific topics like SEO optimization, product design, consumer behavior and more. I’ve actually stopped reading 1-2 business books per month and opted instead to read 2-3 Medium articles per night. I still think fiction, narrative nonfiction, and biography are best read long form (preferably on paper), but for a founder building a company who has to know a little about a lot, Medium is the perfect medium.”
Timyo (Free): Joe Balestrino, founder and CEO of 4PointDigital loves Timyo. Why? “It helps keep my emails organized,” says Balestrino, who goes on to say that Timyo also helps promote clear expectations to the receiver as it “lets me place a date on an email.” As an example, he says, “Let’s say I have a meeting on the 28th. On the 28th, that email will be front and center so that I don’t have to search for it the day of the meeting.”
Waze (Free): Bob Bentz, President of Rocky Point Media, shares that the Waze app solves the one problem a lot of other mobile map apps don’t, which is how to avoid the traffic. According to Bentz, the Waze app “gets you to your location on the most expedient route,” something that benefits business owners meeting clients in new locations. “I once left a nighttime college football game that had over 70,000 people leaving at the same time,” said Bentz. “The traffic was a minimum of two hours just to get through the access road to the stadium! Not with Waze. It sent me on some back country roads where I thought I’d surely be lost, but in a matter of 15 minutes, I was on the interstate heading home.”
While I’ve heard of some of these, there are also a lot of apps on this list that I had to look up to verify that they even existed. For the ones you don’t recognize either, you may want to check them out because they just may be the app that can take you and your business to higher levels.