No matter their industry, small businesses and start-ups have one thing in common: they need to operate as cheaply as possible. All start-ups must ensure that cashflow is the for the first 12 months. And that means being careful where you spend money, and how to get the most out of your technology.
By including as many cost-saving and efficient tools into your plan as possible, you can get a lot of value from a little investment. And while there are endless services and solution packages on the market, many of these are too expensive for small businesses. They can also be overkill in terms of what’s needed to manage a growing start-up.
Essential apps for small businesses
Instead, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) should focus on useful, efficient and cost-effective apps. Here are five excellent apps, all of which are either free or relatively cost-effective. They also offer premium and extra features that you can incorporate as the business continues to grow.
Accounting app – Kashoo
Kashoo has been available to small businesses since 2008. It’s specifically designed for use by entrepreneurs, small business owners and freelancers. The app allows the user to create invoices, carry out audits and tax returns, and much more. After a free trial period of 14 days, there is a cost. At £12.75 it’s a reasonable outlay for a host of accounting features, and there’s a money-back guarantee if it doesn’t suit your needs.
The app was developed as the makers couldn’t find an accounting solution that offered the simplicity and features of an app. While there are loads of products on the market for accounting, they tend to be aimed at larger, more complex businesses. Kashoo appears fast, easy and simple to use, and has most of the features a small business owner would need.
Notable features include a function allowing you to create invoices across different currencies. Users can also use the payment gateway to accept credit card payments. There is excellent support 24 hours a day, and the app is updated constantly.
However, there are drawbacks. Specifically, the mobile Kashoo app is only available for iOS, which means Android users are out of luck. Other criticisms include the lack of functionality to bill clients at an hourly rate. 2
Collaboration tool – Slack
Slack (Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge) is an easy to use, cloud-based collaboration tool. Crucially, it’s available for all mobile platforms and can be accessed via the webpage too if you prefer.
Originally an online tool for a game called Glitch, it relaunched in 2013 as a collaborative business tool. It allows businesses to divide work between various teams and clients and provides chat functions for all parties. Employees can hop in and out of chats and use the video feature to speak to colleagues face to face at any time. It works with more than 1,000 other apps, from Dropbox to Google Drive.
There is a free option, but it’s quite restrictive. The Standard options costs £5.25 per month, and the Plus option £9.75 per month. Slack does have a relatively steep learning curve but can be a great tool for the right business.
Expense report tool – Expensify
Developer David Barratt came up with Expensify because he wanted to provide “expense reports that don’t suck!”. This app integrates services such as Uber, allowing the user to record expenses as they go. It also allows managers to review costs and work out ways to streamline their company expenses.
It’s competitively priced and relatively easy to use. However, you will have to spend time getting to grips with it in the first instance, as there are few direct instructions available online. Expect to pay £4 per month for each active user for the mid-tier package, and £7 for the ‘control’ tier package. There’s also a free trial option so you can work out whether it’s for your business.
Office software – Office 365
SME owners can choose from many different software platforms for their business. However, Microsoft Office 365 takes some beating, and remains an excellent option for small businesses.
The web app version of Microsoft Office is ideal as everything runs from and is stored in the cloud. This means you can also log in using all kinds of mobile devices, and it’s not restricted to the office computers. It’s also easily usable on Macs as well as PCs. Office 365 offers the three big apps that everyone needs – PowerPoint, Word and Excel. OneDrive is a great automatic online backup, and other software applications are also available. These include Publisher, Access and Skype.
Different versions are available depending on your business needs. A personal edition of Office 365 comes in at £5.99 per month. If you need one for more users, the simple office package costs £7.99 per month and allows six separate users. There’s also Office 365 Business at £7.90 per month and Office 365 Business Premium at £9.40 per month.
Complete business solution – QuickBooks
This has everything your small business needs in a single app. Made by Intuit, QuickBooks was originally a simple financial management software tool. However, the company quickly developed it to offer broad business solutions for SMEs. It can be downloaded or used as a cloud-based system, and used to pay bills, accept payments and administer payroll. Check the website for all the functions and price points. There is also a package available for freelancers, which includes being able to track expenses and mileage.
James Turner, Managing Director of Turner Little Limited says: “This is a small selection of the apps available to small businesses, entrepreneurs, freelancers and start-up owners. Taking the time to research apps and use the free trials available on a number of these digital apps is a good way to ensure you find the best for your business.
“Small businesses don’t need the same solutions as bigger businesses. There’s no point paying out for accountancy packages designed for much larger companies, for example. Technology means there are plenty available for every size of business, and any budget. Keeping costs down is essential for SME owners, and these apps can help do just that.”
About Turner Little
Founded in 1998 in Yorkshire, UK, Turner Little is a specialist UK and offshore company formation, banking and corporate services provider. Our services include company formation, UK and offshore banking, asset protection, credit correction, trademarking and trusts. Other services include Internet services, mail forwarding, wills and probate. Turner Little’s vision is to offer the best possible service, together with market leading products.