By Ann Marie van den Hurk Lexington Herald-Leader
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The Apple app store alone features more than 2 million apps. While many are designed to entertain and inform us, others help us be more productive. Ann Marie van den Hurk takes a look the apps that can help you get your business running smoothly.
Are you a business owner with excess time on your hands?
I didn't think so.
Most small-business owners wear many different hats and have to work on-the-go in order to meet competing client and family demands. Portable devices like laptops better enabled such a lifestyle, but smartphones and smartphone applications, in particular, have made it accessible to business operators of all stripes.
About 80.5 percent of small-business owners in the United States use their mobile devices for their business once a day or more, according to research conducted by Manta, a small business-focused online resource. More specifically, 25.3 percent use them once an hour, 11 percent use them between three and five times daily, and 17.3 percent use them nearly 10 times a day.
Clearly, most small-business owners depend on their smartphones.
What makes much of this possible are the apps. They are programs on your smartphone that allow you to do things beyond making a phone call. Name it, and there's an app for it.
In fact, the Apple app store alone features more than 2 million apps. While many are designed to entertain and inform us, others help us be more productive. Apps can allow businesspeople to:
-Keep in contact outside of the office
-Navigate to work sites
-Bank on the go, including checking balances and depositing checks
-Track and send estimates and invoices
-Get payment on the spot
So, how can apps help you be more productive?
Here are five areas to focus on:
-Accounting: Most small businesses use either QuickBooks or FreshBooks for bookkeeping. The programs, which do cost money and are both available as apps, allow business owners to handle invoicing, estimates, expenses and reports while using a desktop or mobile device.
-Communication: In addition to the usual social media platforms, business owners can load up their smartphones with messaging programs like Skype, WhatsApp and Signal to keep in touch with customers. These apps are free.
-Organization: Keeping many balls in the air calls for project management tools such as Basecamp, Trello, Asana and Wunderlist. There are free and paid versions of these apps.
-Payment: Everybody likes to get paid. That's what Square and PayPal, which work with credit card readers that attach to mobile devices, allow you to do without delay. Fees, generally a percentage of each transaction or a flat rate, vary.
-Other: Other business apps such as Evernote, Dropbox, Instapaper and Pocket help you keep electronic files and ideas handy across platforms.
Remember, smartphone apps are being created daily, making running a business easier and more efficient. ___ ABOUT THE WRITER Ann Marie van den Hurk, an accredited public relations professional, is principal of Mind the Gap Public Relations and author of "Social Media Crisis Communications."