Procurement · 14 October 2016

The best business apps for small companies: Part 1 – Collaboration

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What are the best business apps for entrepreneurs and small business owners?

In the first of a series, published quarterly on Business Advice and showcasing the latest and greatest apps available to small businesses, we identify the best business apps for helping owners manage collaboration.

Finding the time to do all the things asked of you, often all at once, can be tricky for any company owner.

Those at new ventures are asked to handle everything, from basic accounting to employee disputes, whilst ensuring at the same time that business keeps ticking over and customers remain satisfied.

There are, however, an increasing number of apps that now make aspects of running a new firm that little bit easier.

Many are industry-specific, and whichever app you find most useful as a business owner may depend on the market or sector you operate in. Yet there are many that strive to make day-to-day operations simpler, regardless of product or service.

Business Advice has put together a list of its best business apps for entrepreneurs to improve collaboration between owners, managers and staff alike.

Evernote

evernote-3Turning eight years old in 2016, Evernote is the self-styled “workplace for your life’s work”. It’s fast-growing user base is now well over 100m.

What is it?

The app organises content and files of all types, making them accessible in one space. It’s designed for on-the-go note-taking, allowing users to create “notes” out of text, webpages, photographs, voice memos or handwritten information. By creating “notebooks”, business owners can organise company information according to topic, or department.

Why should I use it?

Payroll information can be organised separately to insurance documents, for example. Receipts, bills and business cards can be scanned and saved via Evernote’s camera tool, and its checklist and reminders function enables managers to see and tick off daily tasks once completed.

In this list of best business apps, It can take the hassle away from accounting, and in addition is integrated with cloud-based accounting platform Xero, a popular small business accountancy app.

How much will it cost?

The basic version is free, and appropriate for individuals and smaller groups. For £30 a year, Evernote Plus enables greater upload capacity, offline functions and syncing with an unlimited number of devices. Newly-launched Evernote Business offers further team and admin features for £10 a month per user. 

Slack 

slack-app-1Collaboration tool Slack has amassed more than two million users since its launch in 2013 and has disrupted the market for co-working technology.

What is it?

Essentially, Slack is an instant messaging platform, but with certain features that make it most useful for collaborative small teams. Co-workers can create “channels” to separate group chats by task, department or topic, with an invite-only option for sharing sensitive information.

All types of file can be shared via Slack, whether they’re images, PDFs, spreadsheets, Dropbox or Google Docs, and its indexing system enables users to search for key files and information quickly.

Why should I use it?

Slack stands out as a productivity app because of its integration. It has dozens of integration partners which owners regularly use, including Google Drive, MailChimp and Twitter. You can therefore use Slack to keep all notifications, from accounting to sales to social media, in one place, where teams can search, share, discuss and plan.

How much will it cost?

Slack’s so-called “free to use forever” pricing structure means small companies are unlikely ever to need to pay anything. Certain functions are available on a price per-user basis.

Pocket

pocketFounded in 2007, Pocket has become a world leading “save-for-later” tool, helping both businesses and individuals be more productive. So far, the best business apps inclusion has over 22m users.

What is it?

Pocket lets users save articles, videos, documents and many other file types found via the internet, or other apps like Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest, in one location. The files can then be viewed anywhere, on any personal device, without needing an internet connection.

Why should I use it?

Pocket acts like a save button for the internet, allowing teams to save and share all the relevant content they find online. This is perfect for research-based projects between small groups of co-workers, or self-employed and freelancers looking to maintain a bank of useful sources.

How much will it cost?

The Pocket app is free. For an ad-free premium version, users can pay $4.99 a month.

Wunderlist

wunderlist-appVirtual to-do list Wunderlist won the 2014 App of the Year on the Mac App Store, and has gathered a legion of over 13m loyal users since launched in 2010. 

What is it?

Wunderlist is a cleverly designed to-do list app making project management quicker and more efficient. Users can create and share task lists, which automatically sync so that small teams can see the work that’s been completed. The app lets project managers delegate tasks, divide them into subtasks, attach notes and set deadlines for completion.

Why should I use it?

It’s not as robust as other of our best business apps, but Wunderlist’s slick, intuitive platform will be attractive to small firms with only a few staff.

How much will it cost?

The basic app is free, and will probably be all micro businesses need. However, Wunderlist Pro, which enables users to remove limits put on delegating tasks (amongst other things), costs $6.99 per month.

Published four times a year, the Business Advice best business apps for small companies series will give entrepreneurs and small business owners the low-down on the apps most likely to make working life easier. Stay tuned for the next in the series, when we’ll identify the best business apps for managing productivity.

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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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