Tech & Tools

15 Apps That Help Small Businesses Be More Productive

By Caron Beesley

This week (May 4-8) is National Small Business Week!

It’s a week all about you. Yay! But wait, small business owners wear many hats and in a world where efficiency and response times are paramount, staying sane isn’t easy.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of the top 15 smartphone apps that we think will help you stay more productive, in the office and on the go.

Gauge Your Productivity
If you want to be more productive, a useful starting point is understanding your daily habits and eliminating wasteful distractions and tasks. The aptly named RescueTime app can help you do just that.

The free tool tracks the time you spend in meetings, checking email, browsing websites, and doing tasks. It can also help you set goals like spending only one hour on email per day so that you stay more focused. It can even block websites, set alarms telling you it’s time to get off Facebook, and sends you reports tracking your productivity! Premium features are available for an additional fee.

Never Miss a Deadline, Appointment, or Task
Need your own assistant? Then make Fantastical 2 your virtual assistant. It schedules and sends reminders to you after you’ve typed it in or spoken to it.  You can create alerts with short phrases like “remind me tomorrow at 3 PM” and “task”.  Birthday reminders and Facebook event viewing and management are also optional with Fantastical 2.

Stay on Top of Expenses
Expenses can quickly add up. There are a number of apps that can help you seamlessly track and manage your expenses wherever you are, and even integrate them with your accounting system. Consider Expensify for Business, Mileage Log+ (for tracking gas mileage), Shoeboxed, Cashbook Expense Tracker (Android), and ProOnGo.

Access Your Desktop from the Mobile Device
Ever find yourself away from your desk but needing to access important files or documents? Help is at hand. LogMeIn for iOS devices gives you secure access to your PC or Mac wherever you are, on any device.

If you want to go the next step and collaborate across devices and teams, take advantage of Dropbox (it does more than just store files for free). Easily store documents and sync them across any device.

Simplify Payroll
Running payroll can suck the time right out of your day, but there are a number of apps (paid and free) that can help with the legwork.

RUN Powered by ADP Mobile Payroll, designed for small business, works with your mobile device and let you run payroll from your desktop, mobile app or by phone (for a fee). If you just need help calculating paychecks for hourly or salary employees, take a look at Intuit’s Paycheck Calculator. This free tool calculates pay and any deductions right from within a web browser or via a free app (it also factors in payroll taxes for your state).

Better Manage Inventory
If you maintain any inventory, you’ll know tracking it can be a nightmare. Inventory Now ($4.99) can help. It lets you track units bought, shifted, and shipped by price and profit.

Record Calls or Meetings
If you don’t trust your note-taking ability and need to record conference calls or meetings, enlist the help of apps like Voice Record Pro (iPhone/iPad) or Smart Voice Recorder (Android).

Sign Contracts on the Go
Don’t waste your time printing and scanning contracts again or worrying about finding a business center on the go. The free DocuSign app lets you sign and send important paperwork right from your mobile device.

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