Posted on February 05, 2014 by Michael Martin Leaño
Running a business isn’t a walk in the park, but thanks to mobile applications (or just “apps”), it has become relatively easier than it’s ever been. And because of these apps, managing a business is now more affordable as cheaper and more varied options are introduced in iOS and Android, two of the leading mobile operating systems right now. If you’re an entrepreneur looking to improve how to run your business, see to it that you have these essential apps installed in your mobile devices.
Since 2010, Square has been the killer must-have app for entrepreneurs everywhere. It lets you accept credit card payments pretty much anywhere, as long as you have the Square card reader, which connects to your iPad, iPhone, or Android device’s 3.5mm audio jack. Unfortunately, Square is only available in the United States, Canada, and Japan.
Enter PayPal Here, which offers a similar service but has several other advantages including the following:
- Free cheque processing (although this feature is for U.S. only).
- Comes with telephone, e-mail, and community support.
- Credit and background check is required.
- Allows payments through PayPal.
- The payments you receive are immediately available in your PayPal account.
- Lets you issue invoices anywhere.
- PayPal Here is available in the U.S., Canada, Hong Kong, and Australia.
Essential for any entrepreneur, indeed.
There are many free cloud-based file storage synchronisation services out there, but we think Google Drive is the first one you should get. It provides more storage space than other popular services (you get around 15GB between Google Drive, Gmail, and Google+ Photos, while SkyDrive provides only 7GB); features a robust suite of apps like Spreadsheets, Docs, DocuSign and PicMonkey; and comes built-in with Google’s search tools, which makes it easier to find specific documents. If ever you do need more space, Google Drive offers one of the cheapest options starting at $4.99 for 100GB.
Package Tracker Express/Parcel – Delivery tracking
If you need to track your shipments (like any entrepreneur should), then you need to install either Package Tracker Express if you use Android or Parcel – Delivery tracking for iOS devices. These apps can track shipments for a number of carriers, including Australia Post, New Zealand Post, FedEx, UPS, and many other postal services. You can even get push notifications, barcode scanning, and updates on the shipment’s locations through a map. Best of all, either app is free.
Evernote is one of the most popular cloud-based, note-taking tools right now. What makes it extra-useful is that your notes can consist of plain text, your scribbles, snapped pictures, or webpages (or parts of it). You can also make annotations on your notes, recognise text in images, make to-do lists, tag your photos, share information with anyone you choose, and access your data from anywhere. The more you put in Evernote, the more it becomes even more useful.
Last time we checked, there are about 425 million active Gmail users from all over the world. This means that by extension, each of these users have access to Hangouts, Google’s messaging and video chat platform. Because of this, you can practically call anyone with a Gmail address. Let’s not forget that Hangouts offers major advantages over its rivals that you shouldn’t miss out on:
- It allows you to video-conference with up to 10 participants for free.
- Hangouts supports a staggering number of internet browsers (e.g. IE, Safari, Chrome, Firefox) and operating systems (e.g. OS X, Vista, XP, Ubuntu, Chrome OS).
- Doesn’t need to be installed in your computer.
- Hangouts integrates sending and receiving SMS.
- Comes with easier screen sharing.
Does your business have a website? Then you must have Google Analytics installed in your mobile device. Google Analytics is a free Google service that provides detailed statistics about your website’s traffic. You can access it in your browser, but having it in your smartphone or tablet lets you access the data anytime and anywhere. Armed with the information, you can find out where your website’s visitors are coming from, what pages they look at, how long they stay in your website, monitor mobile-browsing traffic stats, and determine your website’s conversion rate. Did we mention it’s free?
Forget to-do lists. Trello is the ultimate project management app that tells you what task is currently being worked on; who’s doing it; and where a specific stage or task falls in a project. Because of its visual layout, it’s easy to know the status of any project, stage, or task. Trello even lets you attach images, input due dates for anything time-sensitive, and make annotations, gather feedback from other users, and even add RSS feeds to your board.
Because of its flexibility, you can use Trello in a variety of ways: you can manage several different teams, process purchase orders, plan office events, collate your notes for a major business project, and monitor customised RSS feeds to keep your team informed. Like the other apps we’ve listed here, Trello is free.
RescueTime is an app that measures how you and members of your team spend their time. It shows a breakdown of what the user did over a certain period, down to the last second. The app may feel like Big Brother for some, so make sure you talk to your employees before installing the software. But if you do implement RescueTime, it would let you identify overworked, underutilised, and unmotivated workers; pinpoint websites that distract your team; and identify which software your team actually uses. You’ll see better output among team members and perhaps even a bit of competitiveness since RescueTime gamifies productivity.
If RescueTime measures performance and Google Analytics keeps track of website performance, then TrackMaven is your tool for monitoring your competitors’ digital marketing efforts in real time. Here are some of the information it provides:
- How often your competitors are mentioned in the press versus your business’ frequency.
- Real-time changes to your competitors’ website traffic data.
- Factors that affect your website traffic and its effects on your competitors’ traffic.
- Daily changes in your competitors’ page authority.
- How many of your competitors’ ads have been spotted versus your own business’ ads.
You’ll also get real-time alerts as these happen.
Have you ever heard of Mint? It’s a free personal finance service that works just as well for business finances. Mint lets you gather your credit card, bank, investments and loan transaction information in one app. It also lets you prepare budgets and plan for financial targets. Like Square (see above), the problem with Mint is that it’s only for U.S. and Canada.
But good news–there’s an Australian equivalent called Pocketbook, which synchronises all your bank transactions, categorises your transactions automatically, and detect your upcoming bills. Pocketbook will also alert you whenever you get charged with bank fees or when your bills come in late. Like Mint, Pocketbook is free and available for iOS and Android devices.
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