Running your own independent business can be stressful and time-consuming but ultimately, it’s your dream role and super rewarding. You’re your own boss but alongside that freedom comes the responsibility of organising staff, maintaining premises, not to mention all the paperwork involved - financial or otherwise.
So, you’ll no doubt want all the help you can get, and who could blame you?
Technology can be marvellous but where to start when it comes to using it to your advantage can be a minefield as there’s just so much to choose from. We feel your pain, we understand, and we’re here to help, so here’s a guide to our top 10 free apps that could help you run your business.
Let’s kick things off with a communication app and this one’s a good’un. Teams of every shape and size can adopt Slack and use it to make getting things done easier. It’s essentially an advanced instant messaging app where employees can send direct messages or partake in group conversations.
With Slack, you can drag and drop files, archive chats, save messages, files and notifications for future use, group call and more. Existing users have called it ‘one of our most important tools’ when it comes to communications, so if you’re looking for a fresh way to keep everyone on the same page, it might be perfect for your business.
Asana is all about boosting productivity. The app will automatically combine team projects, conversations, dashboards and business tasks into one place for simple transparency.
It’s uncomplicated to use, even for those of us who aren’t exactly ‘tech-savvy’, and it gives you an easy way to track tasks across teams and projects. Ultimately, it champions organisation, collaboration and productivity at work.
An added bonus is the advanced security features Asana offers, so you can be sure your data is safe and in the event of a data loss, you needn’t panic as the app performs regular back-ups.
Trello’s great for keeping everyone on the same page. You add users to ‘boards’, within which you can create different sections. On each board, you can then add ‘cards’ for tasks and projects which can be dragged and dropped from section-to-section by users, so everyone knows where they’re up to.
With this one, you also can set deadlines, add checklists, notes, links and loads more, and users can easily add comments to cards - so there’ll be no difficulty picking up where the last person left off. And finally, the app syncs across devices allowing for collaboration from any location, and it lets you integrate apps you already use into your workflow.
Sometimes, the simplest things can seem the hardest when you’re juggling plates and it’s easy to end up forgetting things. Enter Evernote, a note-taking app for recording, organising and sharing ideas with your colleagues.
Evernote syncs with your phone’s voice assistant and lets you dictate notes on the go (after all, you never know when a lightbulb moment will strike!), as well as allowing you to share notes between devices to keep everyone organised.
Mint is a money management app, bringing together your accounts, bills and more so you can keep on top of your finances from one convenient dashboard.
With the app you’ll enjoy access to unlimited credit scores, receive tips tailored to you for help with budgeting, and be able to view all your finances at a glance. With secure encryption and multi-factor authentication, you can be confident your data’s secure too.
Wave is another money management and accounting app, but it has additional features that go beyond what Mint can offer. Not all small business owners will find them useful, but for those who need help with invoicing and payroll, it’s a great free option.
With Wave, you can connect payments, invoicing and payroll in one package and their professional invoices are simple to create and send and offer advanced features like recurring billing and automatic payments. Their ‘Wave community’ also allows users to share insights with fellow business owners and professionals to help solve each others problems.
When I work offers two great small business perks in one app: employee scheduling and communication. It offers a digital schedule any employee can access at any time, so gone are the days of shifts going uncovered or two staff members turning up for the same job.
With the push of a button you can update the work schedule on all employees’ phones, and if they want to swap shifts amongst themselves they can, all you need to do is approve it. Within the app, you can also monitor when staff have clocked in and out as well as communicate using one-to-one or group messages.
Save time with this nifty app which allows you to take a picture of any document which needs sending (it could be invoices, forms, receipts, contracts or otherwise) and export them as a JPEG or PDF.
The simplest solutions are often the best, and this is one of them. It’s won tonnes of awards, gets raving reviews from its millions of users and with Genius Scan, you no longer need to pay for postage or wait for delivery of your documents - so it saves time and money as well as paper.
Genius Scan also has a sister app called Genius Sign which allows you to sign or annotate documents captured using your finger, but this one isn’t free.
Yes, you read that correctly and you’ve probably heard of it before, but did you ever consider it to be a handy business tool? Maybe not.
Skype actually offers one of the most comprehensive and easy-to-use free video calling services which can be extremely useful for conference calls, meetings, presentations and screen-sharing. You can also send messages and record calls within the app.
There’s the option to upgrade Skype and access additional business features for a small monthly cost, but with the free version, you’ll get all of the above for nothing.
With Product Hunt, you’ll never be struggling to keep up with the latest apps and technologies again. It’s an app which surfaces the best new apps and products every day, so it’s a must-use for anyone wishing to stay ahead of the game.
Within the app, users can rate and review products and ‘upvote’ and ‘download’ their favourite finds. It also provides a global community of founders, investors, journalists and makers, so whatever the nature of your independent business, if you want to make sure you’re making the best use of apps and technology, this one’s likely to become your new best friend.