The beauty in most 21st century small businesses lies in their ability to remain flexible and agile. These key characteristics are the resulting survival methods learned through the volatility of the last decade, and are necessary for a business to be successful in the ever-changing, fast-paced environment in which small businesses compete.
The good thing about these malleable businesses is that they generally embrace technology. These small businesses know that the powerful force driving their agility stems from the implementation of technological solutions that eliminate the need for hardwires and the once-necessary connectivity to physical space.
Lucky for the 64 percent of Americans who are toting smartphones, the source of the power has shifted and is now literally in the palm of their hands. When it comes to helping your small business run more efficiently, open your hand. Turn to apps and tech tools that can become a business’s best assets for organization, communication and finance management.
Here are a few to consider.
Do you struggle with growing mountains of paper? Do you often lose receipts? And do you spend time searching through file names on your desktop trying to identify a single document? Most business owners will identify with one, if not all, of those situations.
To fix these issues, turn to a digital smart organization system, such as Neat that allows a user to take a photo of receipt, invoice or business card and send it to a cloud-based storage system that parses and files the data. After scanning the document it can be retrieved by searching the system with simple terms.
Ifre you a note-taker who shuffles through the crumpled pages of a spiral-bound notebook or heavily used Moleskin, get up to snuff using a system such as Evernote. It is a note-taking, idea-storing, collaborative platform that has a versatile mobile app.
If communication is overlooked and isn’t being managed effectively, it is hurting the business. Keeping in touch with co-workers, clients and customers means much more in our multichannel, uber-connected society than it ever did. In fact, a 2014 Edison Research study found that 42 percent of consumers expect a response on social media channels in under an hour.
To keep all lines of communication open and clear, leverage technology.
Think Skype or join.me for calls, collaboration, conversations and screenshares. Go to Google Drive or Dropbox for sharing files (especially when they are large). Look at Hootsuite for social media management to keep social content flowing and response times as quick as possible. These tools have great apps that make managing communications, beyond just simple emails, easy from any connected mobile device.
Bonus: Try Hootsuite Suggestions. This mobile app curates social content and sends updates to your feed that meet your specified criteria and helps your social streams become even more valuable to your audience.
The most important aspect of a business that needs to be properly managed is finance. From managing cashflow to generating and sending invoices, apps can be a lifesaver when they are used diligently.
Consider using QuickBooks® Online as the hub for your finances. The platform tracks expenses, generates invoices and paychecks, organizes finances for taxes and provides financial reports. (The aforementioned Neat Smart Organization System seamlessly integrates with QuickBooks for collecting and storing receipts and running expense reports.)
For personal finances or checking on multiple bank accounts and credit cards, there is no app better than Mint.com. A simple configuration of financial credentials and the platform will pull the data and provide an overview of spending habits and the allocation of funds. Mint.com will also generate alerts for unusual spending habits and fees, and notifications for bill due dates.
There are a slew of apps aimed at helping small businesses run more smoothly, so keep an open mind and find those that work best within current workflows and communication methods. It’s also good to invest some time in exploring options beyond the usual. Either way, continue to embrace technology and remain as limber as possible.