It’s a common occurrence: you get some form of communication from a client or vendor and you have to reply something like “I’ll get back to you as soon as I get to a computer!” As small business owners, we spend a good deal of our time either pitching a sale or communicating with those we’ve sold to and often times, we rely on our computers or desktops to do that work. With a small (often one-man-show) business, speed and efficiency are KEY to not spending large portions of our day glued to a computer! There are numerous ways we can waste time every day working IN our business but, as the saying goes, “there’s an app for that!” Today I want to quickly walk thru 5 of key apps I use on my phone to keep me in touch with clients, help me track expenses and paperwork and even access my office computer when I’m on the road and help keep me working ON my business not just working IN it! The BEST part about all 5 of these apps is that they are TOTALLY FREE! Check them out and download a few today!
Square – This little powerhouse app is what we use to process all of our credit cards, receipts, and invoices. There is an online site you can log into that allows you to add in products that you regularly sell (like a wedding retainer, a session fee or maybe an editing or shooting charge that you charge per hour), set a preview image for each product, set taxable rates and also choose to offer each specific item available for pickup or delivery. With the free app and card swiper, you can charge on site with a simple swipe, tap for apple pay or slide in for the new chipped cards. The register app can even give you point of sale capabilities with printable receipts, detailed invoices and taxable vs non-taxable sales tracking! With a quick login to the online site, you can track daily/weekly/monthly sales, see income breakdowns, issue refunds, see frequent buyers and add options for clients to buy on a free online storefront! This is HANDS DOWN the most frequently used app on my phone for my business. Whether you’re a full-timer or just shoot on the weekends, this app can help streamline the time you spend with this part of the business.
Google Analytics – Knowing where your clients are coming from and how they are interacting with your site/s or blog is crucial in being aware of your client’s needs. Being able to know what content is best to be putting up, what times of the day people are interacting with your sites and where to put your money when it comes to things like advertising and promotions helps take some of the guesswork out of running a business. For example, I’ve noticed a trend with Facebook traffic to my website around 8:30-9pm in the later half of the week. I can see the influx of visitors to my site and blog around that time right from the app. This is extremely helpful knowledge to me as a business owner because now I have been making it a point to have posts on my Facebook site that direct people toward new content on the site or blog coming up during that time frame. This ensures that clients (and potential clients) have the highest probability of seeing my content on their feed and then reacting to the call to action in my post to view the new site content! There are TONS of ways to view and breakdown the information Google provides you with this powerful little tool and you can easily link in multiple sites so you can keep tabs on all your business activities right from the phone!
Team Viewer – I will start off by saying, this app is free to use for non-commercial purposes. For small business use, you will have to determine what licensing applies to you and support the full download respectively. For me, this app gets most of it’s use by being able to log it remotely and “see” my office computer from anywhere I have my phone. A lot of times I’ll start photos to upload before I leave for the night and simply need to log in and click the “publish” button. I also use this app to do things like sending myself a file I have on my desktop at work via email or checking to see if I left my music on from my home! It’s a fantastic way to have quick access to your office computer from on the road and a SUPER time saver with being able to email forms or files directly from my desktop instead of having to always run back to the office or wait till the next day.
Expensify – Although this little guy is next to last in the list, it’s FIRST on my list when it comes to tax season! With the advent of digital photos, the IRS has allowed for digital receipts to be admissible for record keeping, saving us all TONS of wasted pieces of paper tracking! I use this app to track mileage, receipts, and supplies. This free gem allows you to create categories for your expenses (such as travel, meals and entertainment, and office supplies) and gives comprehensive totals to hand over to your accountant at tax time or to see how you are doing with your budget throughout the year! You can track your mileage by distance/GPS/or odometer reading and snap quick pictures of your receipts as you log your expenses by date, category, and vendor. This all in one app allows you to quickly add those pesky little details as you purchase them (or drive the miles) rather than trying to add them at the end of the month or year and keeps you from having to double track by writing them down and then entering them in later. This app should be on EVERYONE’s list for downloading a.s.a.p.! Their slogan says it all – “Expense reports that don’t suck!” Sign me up! ☺
Evernote – Evernote is another one of those apps that every business owner should have. Honestly, it’s so useful, I would argue anyone with a phone or computer should be using this! The name is pretty descriptive for this one: every note you’d ever want to keep or have access to, period – EVERnote. Do you have a talk or presentation coming up and want to add to your list of things to talk/teach about as you think of them? Make an Evernote presentation and access it from anything with the internet! Would you like to make a list of places to visit on your family trip this summer? You can make a check off style list with photos, map directions and keyword tags that you can then share with anyone in your group! I use this app to map out teaching points (including adding in screen shots or images for my presentation), keep track of random thoughts like books I want to read or music I want to check out as well as scanning in and remembering encouraging notes and cards I’ve received and want to always have access to. Automate your next meeting with sketches and notes that you can display to everyone in the group right from Evernote and then couple it with the desktop version of the app and you have an unlimited, vastly powerful notebook that is literally accessible at any moment. Goodbye notepad, hello Evernote!
With the advent of the smartphone, we’ve been able to be more “connected” than ever to the world and people around us. These are 5 ways to use that connectivity to your advantage and leverage your incredibly valuable TIME to the best of your ability. You can help make your clients feel like you have a whole staff of people caring for them and help minimize the time you spend taking care of all the little details of your business with the help of apps like these! I truly believe that there are no limits to a number of things we can do in our creative fields, but hopefully, with the help of some of these apps, we will be able to do some of the business tasks with better efficiency and speed and allow your brain to be focused on creating your art and growing your business!