Procurement · 16 March 2017

Best business finance apps for small companies

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We’ve revealed our best business finance apps

In the latest of our quarterly series identifying the latest and greatest apps, Business Advice reveals the best business finance apps for small companies to help manage those precious pounds.

Managing a company’s finances efficiently can often be a huge source of frustration for time-poor small business owners.

Most small businesses are run by people without finance skills or qualifications, and research has found that even if your firm is financially secure, lacking financial skill can cost you thousands of pounds a year in miscalculations, unpaid invoices and fines.

But, with new business finance apps cropping up regularly, it can be hard to know which ones will add value to your operation.

To help readers wade through the vast sea of tools, Business Advice has selected a handful of business finance apps we think could make a measurable difference.

Concur

Concur app 2
Concur is used by 30,000 UK firms

Concur’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology was originally introduced in 1993 to help small businesses manage travel and expenses costs.

More recently, the finance industry has considered it one of its best business apps. It was chosen by Apple in the Editor’s Choice category of its app awards in 2013, and it is currently used by around 30,000 businesses in the UK.

What is it?

Concur is a mobile expenses app employees can use to book work trips, submit expense claims and have them approved. It’s designed to gives staff at small companies the tools to carry out their own everyday expenses tasks.

Why should I use it?

Paper-based expense processes are often frustrating, time consuming and prone to error. Small businesses are at risk of incurring charges for being late and duplicating expense payments.

With Concur, business owners receive up-to-date, accurate spending data, enabling them to identify common spending patterns and in turn negotiate better rates with travel service providers, saving on travel and expenses costs.

The app is connected to service providers and online travel agencies, credit card companies and other vendors (basically wherever employees spend money). The idea is that employees have a secure way to choose options that are right for them.

How much will it cost?

Concur’s subscription-based price plan starts at £6.55 per month, or per employee added to a business’s account. A free trial is offered to get you started.

PayPal Here

PayPal Here
PayPal Here comes with a chip-and-pin card reader

Global platform PayPal has been leading the way in mobile payments since it launched in the late 1990s.

Recent company research revealed that during last Cyber Monday, in December 2016, the platform saw 50 per cent year-on-year growth in mobile payment volume. It launched business finance apps to small UK firms in 2013, naming the service PayPal Here.

What is it?

PayPal Here lets small business owners create, customise and send invoices to customers, manage PayPal account activity remotely, and view the financial information of customers.

It consists of two parts, a mobile app and a chip-and-pin card reader, which connects to a mobile device via Bluetooth.

Why should I use it?

PayPal Here lets small business owners take contactless payments from Visa, MasterCard and Maestro debit and credit cards, at a charge between 1.5 per cent and 2.75 per cent per transaction, depending on sales volume.

The app enables firms with PayPal accounts to take payments from multiple card readers at the same time, with “sub” users easily added to or taken off the account.

The PayPal Here card reader was designed in the UK, to make life easier for owners of ventures which tend to rely on cash – like taxi drivers, market stall owners and tradespeople – who would otherwise have to turn away customers who don’t carry cash.

How much will it cost?

The mobile app is free to download, and the accompanying card reader costs £47.99.

Wave

Wave app
Wave specifically targets micro companies

Since its launch in 2010, Wave has amassed 1.7m customers based across 200 countries, and in 2017 the app claims to be solving the financial headaches of small business on every continent.

What is it?

Wave gives small business owners and sole traders an integrated platform to carry out invoicing, accounting, payroll and payment responsibilities more easily, all based in the cloud.

The app creates and sends professional invoices, then follows their status. It also gives small business owners reports, via a dashboard, on the financial health of prospective clients.

Why should I use it?

Unlike competitor business finance apps, Wave was developed exactly for micro firms in mind, and with an understanding that companies with less than ten staff have a different way of working than larger firms.

It’s connected to the banks, and uses receipt scanning technology so users can track income and expenses in real time, digitally.

Wave also allows small business owners to track the progress of invoices sent by its business finance apps, so they know exactly when to expect their accounts to be credited.

How much will it cost?

Most of Wave’s software for small businesses – it’s invoicing, accounting, receipt scanning and other technologies – are free to use.

For the app’s payroll service and credit card processing options, a pay-as-you-go payment model is introduced.

Quickbooks

Quickbooks app
Quickbooks’ cloud-based software has more subscribers than Xero

Software firm Inuit developed its Quickbooks accounting platform throughout the early 2000s to provide small business owners with all their accounting services in one place.

The cloud-based version of the software, Quickbooks Online, was introduced in 2011 in the UK. By 2014, it had amassed more subscribers than any other small business accounting platform, eclipsing the likes of Xero.

What is it?

It’s an end-to-end accounting platform. Owners can use it to get the full picture of their venture’s financial health.

With one of the best business apps, Quickbooks enables small business owners to track the flow of sales and expenses, and note any unpaid invoices. It also enables payroll, and gives owners the ability to pay suppliers.

The app also provides up to date financial statements, including a small firm’s profit and loss accounts.

Why should I use it?

Quickbooks connects to thousands of accounts, including a small business’s PayPal account, bank account and credit card, configuring data from these sources continually, before showing you the best ways to cut costs or grow a business.

It makes the fiddly aspects of running a small business easier, like doing tax returns. The app lets you track expenses, and upload and store photos of receipts from your phone.

Quickbooks Online has several versions, and users can choose the product that best fits their business.

Self-employed people have their own version, for example, and there are two options for small business owners depending on the type of accounting service they’re after.

How much will it cost?

After a standard 30-day free trial, the subscription price plans range from £2.99 to £15.00 per month for the first six months, and £6.00 to £25.00 per month after that, depending on the size and scale of your venture. The app is free to download with a subscription.

Funding Circle

FC
Funding Circle has lent vital funds to more than 25,000 businesses

As the leading peer-to-peer lending marketplace for small businesses, Funding Circle has financed over 25,000 businesses to the tune of more than $3bn since its creation. It’s business finance apps were launched in 2013.

What is it?

Funding Circle’s app enables investors on the platform to check up on their account, place new bids and check loan deals from their mobile.

Users can receive alerts when loans they’ve bid on come to an end, add loans to a watch list, ask questions to borrowers and securely transfer funds into their account, all via the app.

Why should I use it?

The app is secure. It contains an auto-login feature for users, but even with that turned on, the app will not let you withdraw funds from your Funding Circle account, meaning any money is safe should your phone fall into the wrong hands.

How much will it cost?

Anyone with a Funding Circle account can download the app for free.

Catch up with the previous article in our apps series identifying the best business apps for collaboration

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

Q&A

If you’ve found the article above useful, but have a more detailed and bespoke question, then please feel free to submit a query to our expert. We at Business Advice will get in contact with them on your behalf and arrange for a personalised response. These questions and answers will then be collated on the site for any other readers who have similar queries.

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