4th June, 2020
The best apps for sole traders and small businesses
As a sole trader or small business owner you’re a multi-tasker; you’re in charge of your product, your marketing, your sales and your cash. You are the mastermind behind your own business, responsible for everything from hiring new staff to paying your essential suppliers. The one thing you may find you are always short of, though, is time: time to think; time to make decisions; time to act. That’s where technology helps, and in this article, we look at the new generation of the best business apps in the UK designed to make your working life easier and more efficient.
If you are doing it alone, having the right connections is key – so let’s start there.
LinkedIn is a virtual networking app predominantly used by professionals and business owners to create connections within a particular field. LinkedIn is a quick, easy and efficient way to find contacts and clients, keep up to date with industry news and learn from other professionals. On your profile, you can fill out details such as industry experience, your educational background, your current line of work and interests. You can also write and publish articles of interest to you and become endorsed by fellow business owners or clients who believe your services are helpful. Filling out details such as this will allow you to connect with like-minded people who you could do business with. LinkedIn is a great app for sole traders and small business owners to break out of their traditional bounds and network beyond their current contacts.
Pocket, originally called Read it Later, is an app that lets you save articles, blogs, stories, videos, websites and images. It also allows you to follow people and read their recommendations, so you can network and connect with users who have similar interests to you. This will allow you to make connections within your industry and meet potential business partners or mentors. With Pocket, you can locate content that is tailored to your needs using a discovery feed where stories are recommended to you. It suggests sources based on your interests, but users can also recommend content to people they follow – making it perfect for networking and keeping you up to date with news that is vital to the industry in which you work.
Manage your money with financial and business accounting apps
Managing company money is an extremely important aspect for any successful business but can often be a time consuming and stressful. Various apps can help ease your cashflow worries and similarly ease your stress.
PagoFX by Santander is an international money transfer app. It lets users send money abroad with bank-level security, low costs and live customer support, and you can send directly from your existing UK personal or business bank account (for sole traders) – there’s no need to bank with Santander. For example, if you need a certain product from an international supplier, PagoFX enables you to send money quickly and easily to their local bank account in the countries PagoFX support, including the eurozone, the US, Poland and many more. Low fees, the real-time, mid-market exchange rate – similar to those found on Google, Reuters or Bloomberg – with no mark up, and transparent pricing also means that PagoFX helps sole traders save money by showing them exactly what they are paying and be confident in what their supplier will receive. Currently available for sole traders, and coming soon for limited companies, PagoFX is a great way for professionals to conduct business overseas without compromising on cost or security.
Holvi is an app that provides sole traders with a set of tools to help them run their business from their mobile. This app enables you to create and send invoices, upload and archive receipts and prepare payment reports – essentially allowing you to keep your finances and account records in one place. Holvi provides sole traders with real-time notifications on their account activity and lets you search for payment records within the app. It also automatically tracks who has paid and who hasn’t.
Asto is a bookkeeping app for freelancers and small business owners which sets out to simplify processes and save time on repetitive admin. Through Asto you can record expenses by taking a photo of you receipts, categorise them, filter and export them. For invoicing you can quickly create and email modern-looking invoices from your phone and track them within the app. Asto also has a service called Business Capital, which allows freelancers and small businesses to access credit for greater flexibility in managing cashflow and capital requirements.
Manage your time
Time can be your best friend or your worst enemy – so how do you manage it effectively?
Toggl is a time tracking app that helps improve productivity by tracking how much time users spend on certain projects. Within the app, there are different types of timing systems. For example, the Pomodoro timer sends you updates as to when it’s time to take a break to refresh and recharge. If you forget to turn the timer on, you can add work times manually, and you can name your projects after clients, so you know what you are working on and who you are working for. This app is useful for sole traders as you can effortlessly track the amount of time you spend working for a specific client and bill them accordingly.
Managing projects, tasks and people is a never-ending job. Again, there are project and business tracking apps that can help.
Trello is a tool that organises projects into cards, boards and folders. It is a useful app for sole traders to organise your tasks and priorities, allocate jobs to team members and include detailed information about the job on the card. You can also track your task’s and team’s progress through the app, making sure work is being completed to a deadline.
Described as a ‘messaging app on steroids’, Slack is used predominantly by teams and workplaces to chat privately or in a group. Within the app, you can upload and share files to a closed network, sending vital information to employees. It provides one place of contact – great for chatting to individuals and teams alike (and you can send reminders and messages to yourself to stay organised!)
Microsoft To Do
Microsoft To Do is an app that helps users manage tasks and organise day-to-day activities. You can use the app to make a list of tasks, take notes, record conversations, plan events and set reminders. The app has ‘to do’ lists, daily planners and task managers, making sure users complete work on time. It provides a coherent list of what you need to get done and allows you see how everyone else is progressing.
Evernote is a note taking app that lets you collate resources and work on projects in one place. Evernote is partnered with Chrome and Safari, which means that users can take clippings of blogs or articles and put them into their note planner.
Zoom is a web-based video calling channel. It allows clients, employees, teams or individuals to talk online with or without video. Users can also record Zoom calls and use screen share options – perfect if you want to show others what you are working on or how to use a certain platform.
Work can be a stressful environment, so what apps help you to relax?
Headspace is a mindfulness app that helps with meditation. It has options for all levels, such as beginner, intermediate and advanced. It provides guided audio meditation, taking you through a process of relaxation and contemplation. It can help encourage you to take time out of your day to relax, rather than constantly working.
How do you ensure that no matter how short of time you may be, or how many other things you have to focus on, there is still time for what sets you apart from the competition – your creativity.
Canva is a design tool that makes it simple and easy to design and publish work on various platforms. It has customisable templates and designs, providing a platform to create documents, PowerPoints, cards, invitations, presentations and much more. This is a great app for sole traders as they can put together images for their business, proposals for their clients and presentations for their employees. It is a perfect way to take advantage of creativity within a business, and present clean, professional-looking documents.
InVision is a collaboration and workflow platform that helps with the prototyping, design and development of new digital products. So, if you are creating new web or mobile applications InVision allows you to make your prototypes, mock-up or wireframes interactive with animations, gestures and transitions and share them with collaborators stakeholder and users for instant feedback.
VideoScribe is a video creation software tool that allows you to create engaging animated content to help tell a story. You can choose images or use your own, add text and voice-over or select royalty-free music from VideoScribe’s soundtrack library to make whiteboard-style animations quickly and easily which combines images, sound and motion to explain a concept, new tech or a service. The presentation can be saved and exported as a video file or PowerPoint presentation, or you can upload it directly to YouTube or Facebook.
These apps are here to make your life easier and help with productivity, but also to put the fun back into the working environment, to help you remember why you wanted to build your own business in the first place. There are plenty to choose from with new apps being launched all the time. Get downloading and see what works best for you!