Whether it’s meeting with potential customers, purchasing equipment or making a trip to the bank, business owners are constantly out and about. But work doesn’t need to pause when you’re on the go. Thanks to mobile apps, 24/7 access to your business is not just possible—it’s easier than ever.
“[Mobile apps] give you power at your fingertips, and allow you to be on the go,” says Morris Jackson II, U.S. Bank SVP of Consumer & Business Banking. “Having the ability to manage your business on your mobile device can create efficiencies and free time for you to work more in your business, rather than on your business.”
Here, Jackson breaks down how apps can streamline various segments of your business, shares his picks for what to download next and explains how to vet apps before making them part of your operations.
U.S. Bank small business customers don’t have to visit a branch for many of their banking needs. With the mobile app, they can make electronic payments, access monthly statements, set account alerts and, most importantly, monitor the cash coming into and out of their accounts. “Whether it’s you as a small business owner or the accountant that you hire to oversee your business finances, you should be monitoring your balances, transactions and statements on a daily basis,” Jackson says.
Another game changer: Business owners can research lending options, apply for loans and receive decisions in a matter of minutes in the U.S. Bank Mobile App. “I don’t think owners see [banking] apps as a learning platform or a resource for knowledge about their business, but they should keep that in mind,” says Jackson. Available for Apple and Android.
QuickBooks is a widely-used accounting software for small businesses, so it makes sense that its mobile app is a popular choice. The app can do everything from recording expenses to accepting mobile payments and tracking receipts – all from the convenience of your phone. Available for Apple and Android.
Geared toward freelancers and entrepreneurs, the FreshBooks mobile app offers features like invoice creation, expense management and client communication, which syncs across all of your devices. Available for Apple and Android.
This chat–app streamlines communication and collaboration between coworkers in real time with different channels for various teams and projects. Available for Apple and Android.
The app provides an easy way to organize your thoughts, business ideas and meeting notes. You can also share and co-edit documents with business partners. “Evernote can facilitate the ability to work with other people without being face-to-face,” Jackson says. Available for Apple and Android.
Connect with clients and vendors in a more meaningful way, via video, than just by phone or email when an in-person meeting isn’t possible. Available for Apple, Android and Windows.
Cultivating relationships with clients is perhaps the most important part of running a business, which is why a good customer relationship management (CRM) system is key. Enter: Salesforce, which gives you the ability to qualify leads, create customer contacts, log calls and more. “It allows you to create and maintain a client relationship database,” Jackson says. “Any customer you do business with, you want to be a repeat customer. This app puts a business owner in control of making that happen.” Available for Apple and Android.
Scan business cards, review meeting notes and follow-up on sales opportunities to keep leads and clients top-of-mind. Available for Apple and Android.
Brush up on key talking points before meetings with longstanding clients or potential customers. This app stores contact information, sends and tracks emails, and allows you to research people and companies by pulling online data. Available for Apple and Android.
Track the time you spend on tasks to keep projects efficient, invoice billable hours to clients, log expenses and manage invoices with this app. Available for Apple and Android.
Ideal for business owners with a handful of employees, this cloud-based time-tracking app allows them to log time spent working, access shift schedules, request time off and review earnings. Available for Apple and Android.
As a business owner, it can be hard to ignore your to-do list outside of business hours, but it’s important to take time to relax and recharge. Eternity helps you restore that work-life balance by scheduling time-allotted categories like work, sleep and play. It forces you to evaluate, “how much time you are spending on certain things and consider how you can reduce that time to create more balance?” Jackson says. Available for Apple.
Before you download a third-party finance app, check to see if your bank has its own mobile presence and experiment with its available features. “A lot of times, your bank offers a lot of the services you’re looking for, either through their app or through a partnership they currently have with another app company,” Jackson advises.
Just as you would with any other business decision, do your research before entering your confidential business information to a mobile app. “Don’t just read what the business or app company is telling you about their app,” says Jackson, who suggests scanning unbiased articles and reviews from other business owners before sharing any private information.
You don’t necessarily have to splurge on the most expensive app—you might be able to find a comparable one with similar functionalities and a lower price point. “Let’s say you’re looking for an accounting app like QuickBooks,” Jackson uses as an example. “Before you download, do some research online for alternatives. That way you can compare price points, benefits and features. You can find the app that meets your needs as a business owner.”
Word-of-mouth can be a powerful tool when it comes to vetting mobile apps for business owners. Don’t just rely on what you read online—talk to others in your industry, strike up conversations about apps at networking events and ask questions at seminars hosted by local small business organizations.