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If you’ve run a business for longer than a week, you know how many tasks are required to keep operations running smoothly. Managing inventory, maintaining a social media presence, and fielding phone calls are a few of the many tasks required in a typical day at the office.
As essential as these responsibilities are to keeping a well-oiled machine, they can consume your time and distract you from doing what you do best: moving the big picture vision of your company forward. And since you’re a small business owner, chances are you don’t have the resources to hire an expert to handle each and every task.
That’s where technology comes in. These days, there are a plethora of apps and tech tools available to entrepreneurs that can do wonders for increasing efficiency and helping you keep up with the demands of running a business. Check out this list of 8 key business areas for which apps can help you achieve long-term success:
1. Sales and Marketing
By now, you likely understand the importance of having a solid sales and marketing plan for your small business. And you know that, as ZenBusiness asserts, a good marketing plan includes components like market research, target market, budget, and goals/strategies. But if you want to go further than simply building a website and posting on social media every now and then, apps like Hootsuite, Buffer, and EveryoneSocial can prove invaluable. Simply put, these apps center around not only getting your message out to a wider audience but also converting them into customers.
Another useful marketing tech tool is Adobe Spark, which can help you create eye-catching banners that work for your website and social media. Specifically, it offers templates that can provide a more professional and attractive look. Think of it as your go-to banner creator, since it can simplify your marketing efforts while amplifying your message and brand.
Accounting a critical part of running any type of business. Too many business owners get into trouble because they either lack the knowledge or the willingness to keep proper records and manage their business’s finances. Fortunately, there are apps like Xero, Harvest and OneUp that can help with this problem.
Another area where a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners fall short is payroll. Unless you efficiently and accurately run payroll, you not only risk serious financial problems but also legal issues. There are apps available for this task as well. Look for a platform that makes it easy to pay your employees on time, keep accurate records, and file taxes.
Small businesses are huge targets for cybercriminals. One hack, data breach, or other types of cyberattacks can yield devastating consequences, especially if you’re not well protected and prepared with a recovery plan. Research the market for endpoint security suites (e.g., Avast, Avira, Bitdefender, etc.) that can increase your company’s data protection and provide you with peace of mind.
4. File Hosting
File hosting services are used all day, every day by remote teams because they integrate so easily with project management apps and other types of software. But even if your team is in-house, using a system like Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or Dropbox to share files and documents is the easiest way to stay connected and work on projects together. These services operate on the cloud and are relatively secure. But you’ll still want to use adequate security if your team relies on such programs.
5. Project Management
If you’re working with a remote team, using a project management app is a must. Apps like Asana, monday.com, and GanttPro allow you to create to-do lists and set reminders to ensure that each team member is meeting their deadlines. You can share content from other apps, add details and instructions to tasks, and share comments for tasks to clarify any confusion among team members. All in all, project management apps allow you to track the progress of your projects and stay productive to the finish line.
Many collaboration apps and project management apps have several overlaps. They both allow you to share files and content and to comment on tasks, among other things. But Slack, Chanty, Nectar, and other collaboration apps are more about communication than anything. They are essentially platforms for chatting with team members, and they’re ideal for maintaining a line of communication throughout the workday. And many companies even use these apps to foster company culture outside of work.
7. Time Tracking
Time is money, and sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what time your employees are putting into each project. Time tracking apps like Toggl and Timely remove that problem from the equation. These apps are basically like a modern timesheet. However, rather than simply punching in and out of work and lunch breaks, your employees use them to track exactly how many minutes and seconds they spend on each task. Since they are cloud-based, time tracking apps can integrate seamlessly with other types of software.
If your business is selling online, it’s critical to have a top-notch eCommerce platform. Shopify, Magento, and BigCommerce are excellent hosting services loaded with features. They allow you to create unique and attractive web pages, and you can use them to sell your products to the global market.
If you’re willing to pay for it, you can even tap into a wealth of marketing tools that will allow you to target certain demographics and craft your message to attract a broader audience. Moreover, these platforms make it easy to promote your store through Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms.
Running a business is hard, and most business owners can use all the help they can get. Fortunately, there are loads of apps on the market designed to help small businesses increase efficiency in their operations. Research some of the apps above to see which ones will best serve your needs. Incorporating apps into your daily routine not only will help you achieve long-term success but will also relieve a lot of stress along the way.