By: Noah Rue
For small business owners, every day is a mission to sell products without surpassing the budget. Unfortunately, the expenses can add up. From obtaining vendors to shipping out the product and paying your employees, there is an expense at nearly every corner. However, what if there was a way to save money and streamline your processes right from the palm of your hand?
Yes, your smartphone can be a treasure trove of helpful apps that can provide assistance for all of these standard business processes. Not only are they accessible, but they are usually affordable, and they cut the expenses associated with buying other more expensive equipment like cash registers and fax machines. Below are a selection of well-reviewed apps to keep your business running smoothly.
Better Communication with Vendors
When most business professionals meet and make deals with vendors, it is either face-to-face or over the phone. So, instead of making the deal then going all the way back to your office to send faxes and get signatures, why not take care of everything right there on your smartphone? There are several apps that you can use to expedite the process so you can get on to fulfilling those orders.
The age of physically faxing documents is long gone and has been replaced with easy-to-use mobile apps such as FilesAnywhere, CamScanner, and Breezy. These apps allow you to choose a document from your phone’s storage, modify it as needed, and then fax it over to the recipient. If signatures are necessary, choose from numerous signature apps including DocuSign and Adobe Sign, which allow you to sign the form on your smartphone then send it back. And yes, the digital signatures are binding.
If a payment is necessary, you can accept it on the spot with payment processing apps and their associated credit card readers. Two of the most popular services of this type include those offered by PayPal and Square Up. With these tools, you can scan credit cards, accept signatures, and manage invoices. Just keep in mind that there may be a fee of up to 2.7% for card transactions.
Organize Your Business
As a small business, organization is key, and you can keep all of your paperwork safe, secured, and filed away by utilizing the cloud, which is available via many business tools. For those not already in the know, the cloud is a form of digital storage where you can keep an unlimited amount of digital paperwork without bogging down your filing systems or hard drives. Tools like Dropbox or Amazon Web Services allow you to store and categorize your documents so that you or any of your employees can access them from anywhere while saving money on physical storage.
Just about every type of business will end up having a lot of meetings. There are mobile apps that can help with every aspect of your meetings, starting with scheduling apps like Calendly and Doodle that give you a snapshot of your day and the days of your employees to see when meetings can be scheduled and then you can set up the meeting right there and then. Once you have everything set, popular meeting apps such as Google Hangouts and Zoom allow you to have the meeting anywhere with sound and video.
You can also use your smartphone to track your income and expenses so you can know where you are at while you are out on the road. One of the most popular mobile apps is QuickBooks, and it can track your outgoing and ingoing payments, including those that you accept with your PayPal or Square system. Most of these finance apps also let you create invoices on the spot so payments can be made quickly and easily.
If your business centers around the shipment of products, then you probably spend a good deal of time and money managing your inventory. Luckily, warehouse management software can help ease the burden, and you can manage most of it from your smartphone. These applications can help you scan and count inventory and optimize your warehouse real estate, and as a result, you will improve your overall customer service.
Instead of counting your inventory by hand, you can use barcode hardware and a mobile digital app to scan and print personal barcodes and categorize your products, so you always know where to look and what you have available. There are a number of barcode scanning apps you can use, including Scan to Spreadsheet, which not only scans your data but also stores it in organized excel sheets, potentially completing the work of two people with one app. Some apps combine the barcode scanner with a keyboard so you can type in the necessary information while you scan.
Shipping can also be made easier with helpful smartphone apps. You can start with mobile apps that are associated with actual shipping companies by downloading the FedEx or UPS apps, which enable you to generate labels and estimate shipping costs from anywhere. Other independent shipping apps that are held in high regard include Shyp, which has employees who will actually package your products, and ShipStation, which allows you to also send return labels to customers.
Many of these mobile apps may seem too good to be true, but if you maximize the potential of your smartphone, you could complete all of your business needs from anywhere. There are many different smartphone apps to choose from, so try a few and find what works best for your organization.
About the author
Noah Rue is a writer, a digital nomad, an ESL teacher, and an all around good dude, if he doesn’t say so himself.