Technology has made life for many small business owners, entrepreneurs and freelancers run a lot smoother. Today, there are thousands of apps that help business owners organize their contacts, manage their tasks and workflow, file and send important documents, videoconference and collaborate and even relax and destress. These business apps have taken on tasks that, at one time, may have been relegated to the payroll manager, mailroom, invoicing department and conference room. But even though these digital tools are helpful, the real task is finding the right ones to help manage and grow your business.
A search in the Apple app store will turn up millions of apps for entrepreneurs and business owners. But which ones are right for you? We’ve come up with a list of five business apps you didn't know you needed to help run your company successfully. You'll also hear from real-life business owners who offer their thoughts on why these are the must-have apps for running their companies.
1. For Ecommerce: Popshop Live
This app combines ecommerce, branding and product promotion through live streaming with a real person to interact with. Founded in 2016, Popshop Live allows sellers to showcase their products in real time, answer questions from viewers, advertise and fulfill orders. The site acts as a marketplace that can reach millions of potential customers. This app also gives sellers the opportunity to demonstrate their products in creative ways.
As an artist and designer, Paige Poppe, owner of Paige Poppe Art, has greatly benefited from using this app. She has a product line with over 300 products that are sold in an online store and in retail boutiques. “While you are presenting your products live on-camera, the product listings pop up on screen in real time, and customers can check out while you present.” This type of live broadcast can be a real advantage as well in a time when in-person shopping and events are being postponed or canceled.
With Popshop Live, shoppers don't have to look through endless product demos on the QVC shopping channel in the hopes of finding what they want. Inventors, solopreneurs and freelancers have the opportunity to reach an audience without needing a physical brick-and-mortar shop. Poppe adds that "you can also offer exclusive products this way, and it has a search function to find new artists or makers you may not have heard of previously.”
2. For Collaborative Workflows: Unito
Project teams, departments and collaborators may have a preference when it comes to the management tools they like to use. The executive team may prefer using Trello to map out tasks, while product developers may opt for Jiro or GitHub and marketing may favor Asana. Unito helps link all these management tools by providing a workflow solution and aligning key tasks, schedules and workflows across the board. Marc Boscher, CEO of Unito, points out that “the average enterprise today uses over 200 software tools.” Unito seeks to allow workers to use the tool they like the most, without needing to convert a whole team to one tool. "Everybody in your organization can work and collaborate from the tools they're already using — the tools best-suited to their jobs," shares Boscher.
Boscher uses Unito internally and across his company's various departments and teams. “We sync key initiatives in Asana to a Trello board, which we use to share important updates with the entire organization during all-hands meetings. We connect HubSpot and Asana so sales and customer success tasks can be created, tracked and resolved directly within our project management tool. We've connected our Asana projects with various project management tools of external contractors, freelancers and clients to collaborate on projects together. The list goes on.”
3. For Remote Project Management: Basecamp
Ideal for a remote workforce, Basecamp is a project management tool that helps connect colleagues and manages tasks. As of 2020, 3.3 million accounts have signed up to use Basecamp, with that number likely to rise as people are moving out of the office and working from their homes. Chane Steiner, the CEO of the personal finance site Crediful, prefers this project management app for her workforce because of its intuitive platform and cost-effectiveness. “Basecamp provides our business with a tool that has an easy user interface; it allows us to add unlimited users and at a sensible monthly cost. The program updates automatically and needs nothing more than an up-to-date computer, making our IT supports costs minimal as they also offer great support from their own customer service."
Basecamp keeps it simple by focusing on collaboration, affordability and ease of use. According to Steiner, “Basecamp works for our small business as it offers a simple but effective interface with a price to match our business needs. Why make life more complicated with unneeded features — our staff loves it and that’s a good enough reason to use it.”
4. For Customer Relationship Management: Pipedrive
Used by over 90,000 companies in 167 countries, Pipedrive is a customer relationship management (CRM) tool used to track the progress of deals, negotiations, meetings, proposals, contracts and more. It also helps organize mail, contacts, activities and products, allowing for a more efficient and effective workflow experience. Users of Pipedrive see a 28 percent average increase in their close rate after using the tool for one year — a great statistic for businesses that are just getting started or looking to drive up sales.
Cameron Graham, the CEO and Cofounder of care tech startup StoriiCare, uses this app to track and manage his sales and customer contacts. “Pipedrive offers a simple, visual sales pipeline and saves our team time with robust workflow automation." He also notes that Pipedrive contributes to his remote team's "ability to stay connected and working well as a team, while spread across the globe."
5. For Note-Taking: Evernote
Some people may keep a notepad by their bed to jot ideas that come to them in the middle of the night. Others may take a picture of a particular design or color that they stumbled upon during a walk or while skimming through a magazine. If you are someone who writes ideas on scraps of paper or puts sticky notes on your computer, then Evernote is the app for you. As noted on its website, Evernote is “home to everything you want to remember, and everything you want to achieve.” The app is meant to be a central storage location for ideas, inspirations and thoughts, and a place to keep all of your lists, deadlines and reminders.
For business purposes, Evernote will help set up tasks, track deadlines, keep records and manage projects. According to Eric Sachs, the founder and CEO of the digital marketing company Sachs Marketing Group, “Evernote is a must-have app for business leaders, especially ones who juggle a lot of client information and work with a team. Evernote allows note-taking, brainstorming, team meetings and more across all of my devices.”
As a business owner or solopreneur in search of the right tools to meet your sales goals and achieve success, make sure the business apps that you choose support your objectives. The apps available today, especially the five listed above, can help when it comes to supporting and tracking sales, managing workflow, collaborating with colleagues and staying organized. All these features are now at your fingertips and available to utilize as you plan out your company’s trajectory for success.
Peter Mavrikis is an author and editor with over 25 years of experience in publishing. He has worked as the Editorial Director for Barron’s Educational Series, as well as Kaplan Test Prep, where he ran the test prep, foreign language, and study guide divisions. Peter has also written several books on history, exploration, science, and technology.