One easy way to breathe life into your business is to enlist a top-tier app. A powerful app with a strong productivity slant can dramatically boost efficiency.
You may well already know about star contenders such as the storage utility Dropbox, the accounting program Xero, and the internet telephony service Skype. Here is a shortlist of lesser known apps that just might work wonders for you and your business.
Developed by a Surry Hills start-up, the invoice processor Invitbox is widely admired in the entrepreneurial community.
According to one fan, bookkeeping business owner Anyce Grayly, Invitbox can transform your enterprise, saving you tonnes of time and money. “Basically,” Grayly says, “it eliminates data entry for your purchase bills and saves business owners hours of data entry or hundreds of dollars in bookkeeping fees.”
Here’s how it works. You tell your suppliers to email their invoices to your personal @invitbox.com address. Then the software sucks the data from the invoice PDF and feeds it directly into your inventory management software and your accounting program.
After, Invitbox files the invoices in an online cabinet, letting you search them by supplier, date, product code or invoice amount, from any computer, any time.
Pricing starts at $19 per month.
2. Browser Stack
Web designer and business developer Dylan Valade describes the cross-browser testing tool Browser Stack as incredible. The app, Valade explains, gives you access to tonnes of phones, tablets, browsers and operating systems, so you can live-test your small business websites and see how they look on popular devices and browsers across the world.
Browser Stack can expose all kinds of glitches: everything from a blank frame in a slideshow to the failure of your critical call-to-action to show on the landing page, Valade says. Key details may well be awry because a webpage displays at least slightly differently on all devices and browsers. “And sometimes it’s drastically different,” he says.
Pricing tarts at $19 for one user per month.
Business adviser Cailen Ascher describes her email list as her lifeblood. Because her email list matters so much, she designs, writes, and tracks subscriptions through one of her favourite productivity apps, MailChimp.
“I use both their website and their app to monitor my online presence, and I could not be happier with the platform’s usability, customer service, and sense of humour,” Ascher says.
One nifty feature that the company with a chimpanzee trademark touts is tracking. MailChimp shows who is opening, clicking, and coming back for more.
MailChimp is free if you have fewer than 2000 subscribers. Above that you pay a monthly tariff.
Social media strategist Fran Iseli-Hall says her “absolutely favourite app”, which saves her time and boosts productivity, is Voxer: a “push-to-talk” tool that lets you leave live messages for your “team members”, assistant or business partner.
So if she needs a task completed or is running late for a meeting, she sends a voice message through Voxer to her assistant. “It’s fast, easy and cuts through the crap – no need to chitchat or wait for the phone to be picked up: just push and talk and the message is sent instantly,” Iseli-Hall says.
Her whole team uses Voxer to swap messages when out of the office. The app works well for a virtual company too, she says.
Pricing starts at $5 per user per month.
As a global business traveler, sales consultant Jeffrey Hoffman cannot live without the trip planner TripIt. The iPhone app and website lets Hoffman manage his whole itinerary in one place. His hotel booking, rental car and flight display together on TripIt’s dashboard.
Plus, the app lets him share his schedule with clients and his assistant. Besides, it relays real-time gate changes and flight alerts and even steers him to other flights if his is cancelled.
The app is simple to use – you just forward email booking receipts to a single email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, then TripIt automatically builds a master itinerary accessible at any time.
“Fantastic,” Hoffman says. TripIt is free or $49 per year for the premium service.
None of the listed apps needs much tech know-how to use. As apps should, usually, they just work.
So you might benefit from branching out beyond Skype-style star performers that have proven their worth. While the cost of investing in the likes of Voxer and TripIt is modest, the gain seems impressively solid.
By David Wilson