5 Time saving apps for your business
This article was originally published in the August/ September 2015 issue of Your Business Magazine.
As a smaller business, we don’t have the luxury of hiring a receptionist, a full-time administrator, or even an office manager. Not yet anyway. In the mean time, we have made do with the many inexpensive, if not free, apps and software available to us. Here are the five most useful apps that we use on a daily basis, and why you should too.
Every agency needs a project management system to ensure you keep up to date with each of your clients and daily tasks. Asana is our chosen app, for many reasons. It allows you to create an organisation, with various projects within the organisation, and various tasks within each project. Each task can be assigned to a team member on a certain date and at a specific time.
At any one moment it allows us to get a snapshot of each of our projects so that we can decide how to proceed. It also enables accountability so that no project falls by the wayside. The motto in the office has come to be that “if it’s not in Asana, it’s not going to happen.” When you’re juggling multiple clients and projects, it is imperative to use systems like these to make sure each client gets their time of day.
Price: Free for up to 15 members
If you haven’t already got Dropbox, I’m sure you’ve heard of it. This app has taken the world by storm, becoming one of the most successful file-sharing systems. The key with Dropbox is that you know that your files are safely stored in the cloud, should something happen to your hard drive or your computer itself.
This app is indispensible to our business as we use it to share client files within the agency, as well as between the agency and the client. Being able to access the files on your computer, synced through the desktop app, as well as online makes the software extremely useful. Think of all those times where sending a large file via email has clogged up your inbox and caused the server to crash. Dropbox solves all of those issues with an easy to use, quick-syncing free app.
Price: Free up to 2GB, paid business options available.
While this app is certainly not revolutionary, it is useful for business and personal document sharing. Like Dropbox, files are stored online in your Google Drive, however unlike Dropbox, more than one person can work on a file at the same time. Any changes are saved and shown immediately, to all parties.
This is essential for things like budgets, schedules and other spread sheets that many people need to access at once and discuss. It also works well with other Google apps and especially when your business runs on Google Apps for Business, i.e. Google Mail and Drive.
Price: Free with a Google account.
When we started our business we used Microsoft Excel templates for invoices, quotes and statements. Although we were very proud of our customised templates, the process to create and save each document as a pdf was tedious. Eventually we were losing a day of work in order to create the invoices at the end of the month; and that is where Freshbooks came in. Although we haven’t been using the software for very long, it has already saved many hours of manual invoicing.
The app, based online, allows you to create profiles for each client or customer so that you can generate a recurring or once-off invoice and schedule them to be sent automatically on a given day. It can also track hours spent by each team member on a task or project so that these hours can be automatically billed to a client. One of my favourite features is the option to create an estimate or quote and then convert the quote to an invoice as soon as it is accepted. As you can see, Freshbooks allows for many very tedious tasks to become automated - therefore saving time, and in the end, money.
Price: Free 30-day trial, pro plans start from $19.
Canva is quite a specialised online design app and therefore not applicable to all businesses. However, as social media becomes a part of each and every business, the need for good, inexpensive design is becoming more and more apparent. Canva allows a person, with design skills or not, to create simple artwork for use online or in print. They do this through an easy-to-use interface including templates, typography, icons and the opportunity to upload your own images.
We use this app to create beautiful cover photos for Facebook, inspirational quotes on images for Instagram, simple infographics and more within minutes, and for free. It allows us to spend money on the more important design elements, such as web design and corporate identities.
Price: Free, some paid items available if needed.
These are just a few of the time-saving, productivity inducing apps that we use on a daily basis to make sure that we spend our hours on things that require extra brain power such as strategy, creative campaigns and excellent copywriting.
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