Andy Hinxman suggests some apps to help you out when you’re on the go.
When you are running a small business there is every chance you are going to spend a lot of your time on the road pitching for new business, seeing clients and networking. All good stuff that is necessary to keep taking the business forward. I spend half of my time out of the office too and although I have a great team there are things I still need to look at and be on top of. So this month I decided to have a look at a few apps which might help SME’s keep ahead of the game. If you have any that you would recommend please let me know.
One of the annoying things about travelling for work when you are a small business is you don’t have the same sort of travel team (or budget) behind you that the bigger companies are able to afford. If you are like me you will have half a dozen bits of paper with some info on your mobile or tablet and others in your head. The chances are that by the time I have been to see the potential new client and done the pitch, those bits of paper will have been left as a coffee-stained trail in some meeting room and I have no chance of remembering my train ticket reference. Tripit is a great little App for helping you pull together your travel plans and have them in one place.
Who hasn’t turned up to work on the wrong day and then had to do the walk of shame back home? If you are an SME, having an app your staff can use and one which works for you too should hopefully ensure that doesn’t happen. There are lots of apps out there to keep your employees on track; particularly useful if you use temporary or casual workers. Rotaville will let you track workers’ availability and allow them to let you know when they are free. Shift assignments can be changed and rearranged and it includes a feature where you can call or text your employee directly. Another one to look at is RotaGeek where staff can also clock in and out.
You don’t have to tell me or my accountant what a pain it is to keep receipts or chase employees to make sure they hold onto those precious bits of paper. If you have been travelling there is every chance that by the end of the day your pockets will be stuffed and yet this is supposed to be the age of paperless transactions. Try telling that to HMRC! There are a variety of apps you can use to take some of the pain away. Receipt Bank, for example, extracts all the key information from all those bits of paper – receipts etc – and can either put it into your own accounting software or download it to a spreadsheet. No more sitting at the computer for an evening/weekend doing what feels like a thankless but necessary task. You simply scan the receipts using your mobile and hey presto.
You wouldn’t think that business cards would be such a big deal that you need an app to cope with them. However business is all about relationships. If you don’t have the contact details you can’t even begin to have a relationship. So a number of apps have been invented to ensure you don’t just put them in your wallet or handbag and forget about them or lose them. Okay so you might think they won’t bring in much business now but tomorrow? Who knows? If you got on well with someone and they move to another company they will be easier to track down if you can at least remember who they are. CamCard lets you take photos of the business card and you can sync it to your address book. Features include allowing you to add notes and reminders and because they are stored in the Cloud you can access the information from anywhere and on any device.
Now before you throw your hands up in horror and tell me this doesn’t count as an app I am here to tell you it is and a significant one at that. You might not like the idea of doing a video conference on the app but if you have done a selfie then what are you complaining about? Also you can switch off the video and just have the voice. Skype allows free conference calls from Skype to Skype. One of my clients uses it on a regular basis to speak to their office in the USA.
These are only a handful of apps and while some are free you may have to pay to get the best service out of others. However it is a small price to pay to keep your business on the move. That’s all from me for this month – must dash – have to scan my receipts, check the rotas, email my travel plans, organise business cards and get ready for my video conference – and I can do all while on the train…
Andy Hinxman is owner and founder of Keybridge IT Solutions.