Whether you are a solo entrepreneur or own a small business with multiple employees finding easy and affordable quality solutions is a constant challenge. For most small business owners, the day-to-day responsibilities of marketing expert, accountant, and customer service rep can make your life very hectic. The apps below can help streamline your workflow and your bottom line and let you get back to the business of running your business.
GetResponse – There is nothing more time consuming and convoluted for a small business than marketing itself online. Email marketing, social media marketing, websites, landing pages, etc. can all be overwhelming for the business owner. GetResponse is a one stop shop for online marketing with features ranging from email templates and list building to app integration and analytics that starts at just $15 per month.
Vend - For brick and mortar stores, low overhead and ease of use is what separates winning businesses from failing ones. A solid POS system is one of the biggest assets for any shop. Between credit card processing, sales and inventory tracking, and loyalty programs keeping things straight can be an immediate headache. Vend has done well to combine all these tasks in one app. Integrated systems can tie in multiple stores with features like barcode importing, PayPal multiple payment processing integration and the ability to place stock orders. The entire suite of services is cloud based allowing mobile management and oversight. The best part is that their basic package is free and Vend offers a free trial of their premium system.
Intuit Payroll - While Intuit is not a new name to small businesses its payroll system might be. Intuit's payroll services provide quality options for small businesses including unlimited monthly payments, direct deposit, W-2s and electronic tax payments at a price that is easy to work with ($20 per month plus $2 per employee). All of this allows what may be the most crucial of your responsibilities (at least to your employees) a much more manageable one.
Give one or all three of these apps a try and see how much more manageable running your business can be!
As a small business owner wearing many hats, it’s easy for you and your employees to procrastinate on the vital task of tracking expenses. Recording what you spend is critical to success because it directly affects your bottom line. In today’s app-driven market, there are a number of good mobile programs that can help you easily and quickly track expenses and receipts with your smart phone. These apps are also a great way to get timely expense reports from your employees.
BizXpenseTracker – This app was developed with small-business owners and consultants in mind. Not only does it track expenses and mileage, it also allows you to record time worked. You can customize categories and it easily generates expense reports and provides all the critical information required by your accountant.
Expensify – This free app enables you to keep track of business expenses, mileage and billable time. It offers easy receipt capture and can be synced with your credit cards so that expenses can be pulled in automatically. You can also use this app to scan any receipts you have and create an expense report on the spot. It also allows you to convert expense reports to PDF files.
inDinero – An iPhone app created by two college students, this free app lets you track expenses and easily keep your eye on your business’s cash flow. The app also syncs to your credit cards and bank accounts to help you more accurately predict cash flow. It provides a real-time financial dashboard that offers insight into the financial state of your business at any given moment.
Mileage Log+ - This iPhone app can help you get accurate and timely mileage logs from your employees. It was created strictly for tracking gas mileage and has a mileage log and IRS rates for reimbursement. The app also has the ability to store frequent trips, so a simple tap inputs that mileage.
Smart Receipts – Available for your Android device, this open source app enables you to quickly and easily scan receipts with your phone and generate expense reports that you can email to yourself as a PDF or Excel file. PDF reports are also tabulated so they are easy to read and appropriate for sharing.
All of these apps can be extremely helpful to business owner and employees as they try to stay on top of the bookkeeping for their company. They are also a great help for your bookkeeper or accountant to keep your records accurate and up to date.
Has your small business hit a sales plateau? Your small business has been thriving, and the pipeline is always filled with upcoming work. For the first time since leaping into the world of small-business ownership, you finally have a sense of job security. If your business seems to have all the work it can handle but you aren't bringing in the money you need or expected, it’s time to take a serious look at how you’re going to realistically scale your business without working 24/7 and losing your sanity. The following tactics will help:
Increase your rates or revamp your packaging. Is it time to raise your prices? If you’re staring down a jam-packed pipeline, businesses can usually increase their prices by 10 percent or more with a direct benefit to the bottom line. Even if a few customers leave, the subsequent revenue growth is typically worth it. If that doesn’t feel comfortable, try re-packaging the way you’re selling your products or services. This can increase customers' value perception of your business, so you’re less likely to experience push-back from customers for raising rates.
Trade value for money, not time. Think about ways you can offer more value that won’t cost you more time. Creating a troubleshooting guide, for example, that teaches your customers how to handle some of what you do themselves is a single-time investment that generates money repeatedly with little additional effort.
Get your name out there. If you have a business-to-consumer business, think about marketing strategies that will help get your name out there in the community. For instance, sponsor a youth sports team or sponsor a hole at a major golf tournament.
Expand your team without hiring. Add to your sales team on a commission only basis. The right salesperson can excel in such a role and you don’t have to pay anything until they’ve landed a sale. That means you don’t have to worry about whether you’ll make payroll.
Edit your client base. There comes a time when you need to let go of customers who aren’t working for your business. In doing so, you and your staff will be able to spend more time with your best-fit and most-profitable clients, which is better for everybody.
Give a few of these tips a try when you feel like your business has hit a plateau. You may be able to breeze through the storm and emerge with healthy revenue, happy staff and more time to actually live your life.
Your employees may be able to tell you a lot about your business you may not know. What do customers really think about your product or service? Are there more complaints than usual? What could be done to improve sales, marketing and customer service? It seems simple enough just to ask the people who work for you and expect an honest answer. But, due to the nature of the boss-employee relationship, things don’t always work that way. Below are four tips to nudge them toward sharing creative suggestions for growing the business.
Share the big picture. If employees don’t understand the financial state of your business, and what you’ve got planned for the future, it’s difficult for them to offer useful feedback. Take every opportunity to share information about the business, both successes and setbacks, so they have a better sense of how their knowledge and creativity might help spur growth.
Actively encourage participation. There are plenty of ways to encourage employees to share their ideas for improving the company. For example, have an open door policy, hold occasional brainstorming sessions outside of the workplace and put up a suggestion box. Make sure in doing these you emphasize the voluntary nature of your request.
Make it clear there’s no such thing as a bad idea. Employees are generally risk-averse. Most people fear looking stupid or having to stretch beyond their comfort zones and sharing an idea could mean they have to explain it, give a presentation or risk difficult questions on unfamiliar topics. Make it clear that, regardless of the outcome, there’s no penalty for sincerely offered ideas.
Reward your employees’ creativity. Whether an idea results in explosive growth or simply helps overcome a minor operational hurdle, people are more forthcoming when some type of reward is involved. Always start with a publicly delivered “thank you” to everyone who offers suggestions. You can also offer other low-cost rewards such as an extra day off, special notice at a staff meeting, a coffee shop or movie gift card, or a company hosted lunch at a restaurant.