7 Free Apps Small Businesses’ Should Be Utilising

Small businesses and start-ups are often short of time and money, and so are always on the lookout for ways of increasing efficiency. By making the most of the seven free apps mentioned in this article, you can begin to streamline your daily tasks and increase productivity, giving you more space to focus on the core aims of your business.

Running Your Business: Google Docs

If you are using Gmail for your business, a natural progression is to utilise all the apps available to you in Google Docs. You can create documents, spreadsheets, surveys and presentations both quicker and more efficiently than standard Office equivalents.

Even better, you can access your saved documents from any device and collaborate with your colleagues on them at the same time, as they are stored in the cloud in Google Drive. As well, you don’t need to worry about backing your data up, which can be seen as a massive plus if your business isn’t big enough yet to support an IT department or infrastructure.

Building Relationships: Streak

Properly managing your relationships with prospects and clients will be key to your growth but many CRMs are too expensive or too complex to be of value to small businesses. However, Streak runs through Gmail and can therefore utilise all of your existing files, contacts and emails.

Once set up you can track where you are in your sales pipeline and share the information easily with colleagues. Add-on services include the ability to snooze emails, send-later options, mail merge and even the option to track 200 emails per month, allowing you to keep on top of your hottest leads.

Managing Information: Evernote

Running a small business means you are often overwhelmed with information. You can’t always process this straight away but you also don’t want to lose track of it. Evernote syncs between all of your devices so that the URLs, notes, articles and lists you save are available wherever you are.

The free version allows you to save up to 60MB per month, which will probably be enough for most users. However, if you want it to store more of your data such as pdfs, receipts and emails then the Pro Package for £19.99 per year lifts the upload limit to 1GB per month.

Keeping In Touch: Skype

Skype is a versatile app allowing you to conduct voice and video calls, send instant messages and even screen share across a range of devices. All for zero cost.

You can even set up conference calls for up to 25 participants, using the free version, but, if you upgrade to Skype for Business that figure can rise to 250 people. Skype isn’t without its glitches but when you consider you are getting free international calls, it’s definitely an app worth adding to your portfolio.

Time Management: Toggl

Have you ever had that feeling you are lurching from one activity to the next in your business and in the process achieving less than you would like to? A key to becoming more productive is to ensure you are working as effectively as possible.

Toggl is a time tracker which can check what websites and apps you are using across a range of devices. It can record when you are idle and it even allows you to add in custom tasks. From that data you can then generate a range of reports which can help you understand where you are spending your time and how you can streamline processes more wisely. The free account allows you to add 5 people to the system so you can also see how your employees are spending their days.

Project Management: Trello

Trello allows you to create a range of boards which map out every project that takes place in your business. You can get as granular as you wish so you can plan and track a project from start to completion. The visual aspect is great for ideation as you can move tasks around, changing their order or even transferring them to a different stage of the project.

What really elevates Trello is that you can then collaborate on these boards with others, assigning tasks, and letting everyone add notes and comments as you progress. You can even attach documents of up to 10MB on the free version and more if you upgrade. The app syncs across all devices in real time, meaning everyone will always have the latest version and notifications, helping everyone keep up-to-date.

Invoicing Tool: Wave

Cashflow is important in any new or small business and Wave allows you to keep on top of sending out invoices. This app helps you to track what has been paid, even reminding you to chase late payments.

There are no limits to how many customers you can invoice and you can create quotes, estimates, recurring invoices and receipts. It’s even flexible enough to allow you to switch between multiple currencies and set variable sales taxes.

With Wave, you can also accept credit card payments without the need to integrate any other merchant system. The commission on these payments is higher, but, if you only need to use this occasionally, it avoids the headache of set-up fees, allowing you to get paid immediately.

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