Top 4 Small Business Mobile Apps

As we discussed in a post not long ago, more than 50% of America are now smartphone owners. This growing trend of on-the-go consumers, makes it incredibly important for small businesses to continue to reach them. Not only is marketing towards these mobile customers critical, but so is making sure you can operate your own business on the go.

As this trend continues to grow, and mobile phones play a larger role in our lives, so to will their integration with business. If you don’t have a smartphone, now just might be the time. Personally, I waited quite a while before getting one, and now I both don’t know what I was thinking or how I can ever go back.

If you are a small business and smartphone owner, there are likely apps you use regularly to keep things going on the move. Mail, web browser, etc. are all pretty standard, but here are a few you might be missing out on. I have used each extensively and without going overboard on how many to review, I found these to be essential.

These 4 applications make organizing your thoughts, finances, and marketing easier to deal with away from the computer or office.

1. Evernote (Free, iPhone / iPad / Android / Mac / PC)

Developed by Apple for integration with their operating systems, it has since come to Windows computers. Evernote is the quintessential note taking and storing app. It allows you to keep every thought you have written down and saved properly.

You can create different folders so your business and personal notes are kept separate, as well as tags for easy identification. Newly added, the app now features reminders that can be added onto each note you take so you never forget to do exactly what you wrote down.

In fact, I’m writing this article with Evernote as we speak. It essentially saved my from getting the Microsoft Office Suite, or just Word on its own. I think I like it better as a writing tool since it just feels so much more casual, which is my approach to writing. Word reminds me of writing a paper for finals in college.

Formatting text is a breeze like you can in other text editors. Sharing to social networks is also directly integrated. So if you put together something you’d like to share on your Twitter or Facebook page, you can do it directly from the app.

The computer version of the app also allows for seamless, easy synching of all your notes. This way anything your wrote on your phone will be updated on your computer, and vice versa. Now you’ll never skip a beat or need to copy already written notes over.

Bottom line is it makes things easier. Something any small business owner could use. Many people use Post-It notes to control the constant stream of thoughts they have every day when it comes to managing a business. Evernote makes it convenient for you to store those in an organized fashion for the long haul.

2. Wunderlist ($Free, iPhone / iPad / Android / Mac / PC / Web)

This app is about as handy and no frills as a to-do list app should be. I will be the first to say that an app which keeps track of things you need to do seems a bit frivolous. But after going sometime without it and trying to use other apps like Evernote to do the trick, I find this much better.

All Wunderlist enables you to do is create a running to-do list of all your tasks. And it works quite perfectly for just this. You can make certain tasks a priority and keep them atop the list. Likewise you can set reminders or due dates, so you won’t forget. The app will send you a push notification ensuring you really remember to do that thing you wrote down last week so you wouldn’t forget for the third consecutive week straight.

I find that pretty handy with so much going on between life and business.

Naturally, you can add longer descriptions to tasks and include details if need be. You can even share lists directly or over email with others who might need some guidance. For example, making a to-do list for an intern or employee might be helpful if your away or forgot your computer.

It helps keep me on track and organized, which is something I try to not take for granted. To mark tasks as done, just check their corresponding box and off they go. It’s kind of gratifying like crossing off something on paper you needed to do.

Once again, this app has the synching ability from smartphone to computer, so you’re always updated across the board. The great part I find is that it is designed to help you on-the-go, and it does that perfectly.

3. Mint (Free, iPhone / iPad / Android / Web)

Finances in a quandary? No ideas where your spending is going? Can’t understand you bank’s outdate web dashboard? Then Mint is for you.

Mint is a simple and secure application that connects directly with your bank account to monitor it’s activity. It produces these nifty, straightforward charts and graphs at the end or each month, or whenever you want, so you can visualize your business’ spending.

It really makes things crystal clear when it comes to tracking revenue and expenses. Sure your bank probably has a way of giving you reports and showing what’s coming and going, but nothing like this I can assure you.

Mint is widely trusted among people and businesses to track their money, so it’s incredibly secure. You can even setup a pass lock before gaining access to the app. Just sign up, link your account with it, and Mint will start tracking the numbers.

With a much clearer view of how your money os being spend, you can fine tune your budget and allocations to work better for your business. Expenses can be grouped into categories and allotted a monthly limit. Going over this will prompt an alert so you can keep a close eye one exactly what is happening with your money.

The app’s sleek design combined with insightful metrics make it a win-win for small business owners.

4. Facebook

A little more than six months ago and this app would not have been included in this list. It took the developers at Facebook far too long to get an app right. Not only was it’s design clunky for years, but it didn’t encourage users to keep using Facebook on their phones.

I doubt they truly realized the importance of this fact until it was completely updated and turned into the app we have today. Right around the time of this redesign, they saw a big boost in mobile users. Today a huge portion of their traffic come from people using the app, and it’s pretty clear why.

Anyways, you should be using the app for your business’ own page. Just how simple it is to post to your personal account from your phone, they have made it easy as ever to do for your own page.

Simply log in and add a post, picture, or video, and share away. The mobile friendly nature of the app now encourages business owners to keep their audience in the loop no matter where they are.

Events, news, or spontaneous updates now have no trouble being shared immediately with your following from the app. No longer is it actually easier to wait until you are at a computer to tell the word. Now there should be no hesitation or delay if you want to get something posted.

You can view your page either as an Admin or as the public, so you know exactly how your page looks, and what you can do to update it. There are a bunch of other helpful features added in that makes the experience much easier and seamless to use now.

Plain and simple, if you manager or contribute to a Facebook page for your small business, get the app.

5. Bonus – Gmail (iPhone / iPad / Android / Web)

This one is added as an extra since not everyone uses Google’s email platform for their business. Personally, I have 3 Gmail accounts and keep tabs on them all on my smartphone so this app is essential.

Even if you just use Gmail for personal email, I would recommend trying this app out. They redesigned it completely not long ago and it really excels. The design and layout is nearly flawless now in my opinion. Plus multiple account integration is a breeze.

If you didn’t know, for only $5 per month, you can use Gmail as your mail provider with a specific domain address. Your email can still remain, but instead of using the regular client, you can use Gmail.

Not worth it to everyone, but for lovers of Gmail on mobile and the web, it’s definitely an option worth considering.

So there you go, those are our 4 (or 5) best smartphone apps for helping your run your small business. Nothing fancy or intricate about any of them, just good solid apps to make your day to day business tasks easier. Got suggestions for additional ones? Let us know!

Taking a Time Out From Your Home Business Venture Versus Quitting

Any number of things could cause your satisfaction with your business to decrease. Before you call it quits, though, consider if a time-out would be a better solution for your long term wealth and happiness.

A time-out in the business world is a period during which you might do the bare minimum to keep your business alive, but otherwise walk away and take a breather. The idea behind a time-out is to help you find renewed motivation and energy to fight for the success of your business. Too many disappointment and setbacks piled on to each other can pile up and skew your outlook on your business and its future. A time-out can allow you to walk away and gain some perspective.

Too many business owners do not know when to take a break.They keep going assuming that if they take a break their business will suffer.This is a bad misconception.Every business owner needs time to ponder their efforts and if applicable those of their organization.Not only that the mind needs time to be able to rest to it can again take on the task of performing at its peak.

During a time out, you should ask yourself several questions. First, you should analyze what it was you liked most about your business in the first place. If you are an article writer with a bad case of writer’s block, maybe what you liked the most initially was the energy of creating. If you operate a turnkey web page, perhaps you enjoyed the quick influx of customers until they trickled down. Before you can truly decide to throw in the towel, it is essential to determine if that which you liked the most can be regained.

Next, it is important during a time-out to evaluate your business for financial readiness. What kind of investment would it take to get your business geared up again? Do you have the capital to make such an investment? The willingness?

If you can remember what energized you about your business, and if you are willing to throw yourself into rebuilding your business to surpass its former glory, a time-out is all you need to rest up for the next wave of profitability. If, however, you no longer find yourself interested in the market, a time-out if as perfect way to ease into another job, leaving your home business venture behind forever.

Advice for Small Businesses Dealing With Debt

Virtually every business owner understands what it’s like to deal with debt. Most small businesses operate with an extremely tight budget. In fact, statistics from the Insolvency Service show that almost 13,000 companies were liquidated in 2005 and almost 11,000 self-employed entrepreneurs were declared bankrupt the same year.

What You Should Do

Of course planning is one of the most important things you can do when running a business, but the problem for many self-employed entrepreneurs is that they don’t do it. In the world of finance, it’s very difficult to track what goes in and what goes out. Timing is also important because most businesses will fluctuate in the amount of business they do. This is why you can’t really plan on a month to month basis. You must look at things in three to six month blocks.

Also don’t forget to set some cash aside for tax and national insurance so that you can pay your taxes on time. This is a common problem for business owners, especially self-employed entrepreneurs. The tax bill is one of the most important bills you have to pay, but you only pay it once a year, so it’s easy to forget about it until the last minute.

Advice to Consider

For help creating a budget you can work with, try using Business Debtline’s budget sheet on their website. Having a budget will help you figure out how much income you can actually take out of the business. That will help you create a household budget and plan for other benefits or income. Once you’ve subtracted your household budget from the business budget, you can see what’s left to pay to creditors.

All business owners should prioritize their debts. For example, priority debts are those that will result in some sort of loss if you don’t pay them. For example, you can’t do business without electricity. If you need your car for your business, then you must pay your car payment. Non-priority debts are those that don’t have as much power to get their money back, like personal loans and credit cards.

If you do end up behind on your payments, then you should take steps to deal with your creditor and make arrangements. Don’t just wait until they take action against you. Most creditors are willing to work with business owners because it’s less expensive for them and they are more likely to be paid eventually.

It also helps to have someone who can give you good business advice. Having a business coach or other business service expert can help you sort through your budget, make payments where they are needed and cut items from your budget if you can afford to sacrifice them. No business owner can afford to be on their own in the world of business. There are just too many variables that you need to be aware of.