A Business In The Palm Of Your Hand: There’s An App For That
Technology is a powerful and disruptive force for change that has revolutionised all of our working lives. In a relatively short space of time, working practices have wholly adapted to complement the technologies that surround us. And we now have access to so much computing power in our pockets – the processing gusto packed into our smartphones outstrips the capabilities of an entire office set up from a couple of decades ago. There’s another factor at play here too. More and more of us are recognising the benefits that flexible working can bring to our lifestyles. If we’re able to carry our essential business tools around with us in our back pockets, there’s no need to be shackled to a desk. We can combine our work with family commitments, outside interests and even a portfolio career, where you cycle between two or three occupations, is becoming the new normal. But is it possible to run your business on your smartphone screen? Increasingly, the answer is yes. With the right suite of apps, you can cover off any function from accountancy to marketing. In fact, 85% of Americans are running their small business on their iPhone or Android phone today, a number that has nearly doubled in the last five years. Here’s what you need to know:
Whether it’s thinking of new product development ideas on the fly or drafting the conclusion of that important report, our phones can act as a super versatile note taker. An app like Evernote allows you to jot down written, pictorial or recorded voice notes and share them with groups of people, as well as access your notes across different devices. OneNote is a similar tabbed notebook that syncs across all your devices. You can create as many different categories as needed and snip things from the desktop directly to your notebook. It’s so easy now to catch up on the go. Share files quickly on the go with SendAnywhere. It lets you transfer large files via secure web link or device to device QR code, so if that project plan needs to go to multiple team members, it’s easier than ever.
From processing customer payments to handling the payroll, there’s nothing that your smartphone can’t support you with when it comes to business finance. If you want to take card payments using your phone, sign up for Square. You’ll get a card reader that plugs directly into your phone and lets you accept credit and debit transactions anywhere. Your customers can also request an electronic receipt via email or text, so there’s no need for a printer. Systems like QuickBooks and Sage offer apps that allow you to process payrolls and invoice clients electronically from your phone, eliminating the need to spend hours poring over spreadsheets. It will update your accounts and make sure your tax contributions are pulled through correctly. You can also set the app to remind you about payroll deadlines and tax deadlines. It couldn’t be easier. When it comes to pulling in money, a small business dream is Invoice2Go. Use a professional template to generate invoicing PDFs and track online payments and expenses. Having everything in one place makes managing your business cash flow much less frustrating.
It used to be that you used to require a big marketing budget, professional graphic designers, a media booker and usually a contract printer to get those flyers, billboards and brochures produced. By as marketing leans heavily towards digital channels, it becomes ever-easier to manage it all using your phone. More and more companies are finding success through speaking directly to their customers and fans using platforms such as Instagram – to the point where many don’t do any traditional marketing at all. Having a beautiful, curated feed with a compelling story is now the yardstick of a successful small business marketing strategy. Creating beautiful graphics can now be done from your palm too. Apps like Canva allow you to simply select a format – from an A4 flyer to a Facebook banner, customise with an image and pick from a pre-loaded range of eye-catching, polished looking designs and graphic elements to create truly professional looking marketing collateral in a few swipes. And as content marketing becomes the absolute must-do regarding boosting your website visibility and spreading your message to new customers, infographics can fuel this –along with blog posts. Setting up a company blog via WordPress takes minutes, and features an array of options, from coding your own site to choosing from templates to customise. The mobile app means that you can compose and share content on the go. Consider using a social media scheduler like Hootsuite, to automatically push out updates through all your social channels when you publish new content.
Recruitment and Back Office
For the business support functions that make the day run smoothly, you can also count on your phone to help. If you find yourself struggling with business admin and diary management, it may be worth looking into a virtual receptionist. Get those important calls picked up so that you aren’t missing business. It could just reduce your workload down to a slightly more manageable level. You can also use apps to hire if your company is expanding. Apps like Workable and MightySourcer can help to streamline what can be a lengthy and complicated process. Email and shortlist candidates, advertise your vacancies, review applications and administer interviews seamlessly. They can even support you with the on-boarding process for your new recruits. With a full suite of reporting and analytics tools, you can easily review the whole process. Initial interviews can easily be conducted over Skype for Business, while LinkedIn can support the search for the right candidate by connecting you to thousands of relevant CVs and work-related groups to spread the word that you’re hiring. With even the recruitment paperwork handled online, it becomes a far easier to manage the process. If it’s still too much to do, connect with professional recruitment consultants using the same platform, who will be able to advise, guide the process, sort the legal and paperwork and shortlist suitable candidates for you for a fee.