Looking for the best apps and software packages to help you with the day-to-day running of your small business? From invoicing to making lists, here are the top recommendations from our #TechTuesday agony aunt Francesca Geens of Digital Dragonfly.
1. Time Tracking
Check out Toggl a simple time tracking app that lives up to its strapline ‘so simple you’ll actually use it’. Whether you use it on your browser, iPhone or Android phone it really is very easy to keep track of what you are working on and make sure you have an accurate record of how to bill your clients with easy reports and exporting tools.
2. Passwords and secure information
1Password is a great way to manage passwords but also other data you need to keep safe. I use it to keep track of logins to client accounts, my business credit card details, banking details and anything else I want to make sure is kept encrypted. It syncs via Dropbox to all my devices so you will never be without an important login.
3. Note and document keeping
To keep track of all those attachments, notes, ideas and links etc that otherwise get lost in your inbox, Evernote is a great tool to organise your business (and your life!).
4. Task lists
Trello is a great visual way to keep track of lists and to do’s. Create boards, cards and checklists to manage your tasks. No boring lists here but a whiteboard that allows you to easily move things around as work progresses. You can also share boards with colleagues to easily collaborate on projects.
5. Accounts and invoices
I have been using Crunch since I started my business so can’t imagine using spreadsheets for any of my accounting. With online software specifically designed to help freelance business owners, this offers everything you need for recording invoices and expenses, real time snapshots of tax liabilities and monthly performance. It even manages salary and dividend payments and the Crunch accountants will do your VAT and annual returns, all for a flat monthly fee. I also love the phone app that automatically uploads expenses into your account to reduce paperwork and admin when you get home.
6. Social media management
Check out Buffer – whether you use it through a browser or connect it to your Instapaper or Google Reader account, this is a great way to share to Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. With amazing customer care and regular new feature releases, including their recent new iPhone app, this is a start-up to keep an eye on.
Using FlashIssue has revolutionised the way I pull together my monthly newsletter. Link it to your blog and simply drag over those stories you want to include – the image and intro copy are then ready to be edited and before you know it your newsletter is ready to go. Link it up to your MailChimp account and send to your usual list.
Getting your email, calendar and contacts all synched up is probably the single best improvement anyone could make. At just £2.60 + VAT per month, a service like Microsoft Office 365 offers cloud-based Exchange which will manage all your Outlook data and synch it to all your devices. Using Out of Office, sharing a calendar with an associate or delegating your inbox to your assistant will make you as professional as any bigger business with expensive email servers.
9. Remote access
Sometimes sharing a screen is the best way to work with a client, associate or colleague. I use Teamviewer for all my remote access client work but they also offer a free version for non-commercial use which is perfect for collaborating (and helping out parents in need of IT support!).
The time between Christmas and the New Year is a great time to work on your business systems, so give these a go, enjoy doing your admin in 2013 and let me know how you get on!
Francesca Geens runs Digital Dragonfly, providing tech support and advice to one-person businesses. Find our more about Francesca and read her other contributions to Enterprise Nation.
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Photo credit: Schnaars