I love technology. I especially love the fact that technology can empower any aspiring, young or established businessman or women to achieve more, often at less cost.
If you need to write a menu, sign a contract, or manage your newsletter or bookings system, there’s a free downloadable app that can help. It’s now quite easy to find apps that allow you to run your business directly from an iPad, and the choice is getting wider.
The list below isn’t a whimsical collection: the tasks that these apps perform are legitimate and vital business functions.
If you run your business on-the-go, either from a market stall, pop-up café, your living room or at a client’s premises, your business might benefit by adding these apps to your home screen.
The paperless office might remain a dream for many, but there are now a number of apps which can take any business a step closer. Google Docs is a great option to write up key documents or update those spreadsheets. It’s platform-neutral and collaborative, which means you can switch between devices seamlessly and allow multiple users to work on the same document at one time. With Evernote Scannable you can send your freshly scanned PDFs directly to whoever needs them via email, or save them to the likes of Dropbox which has become the standard cloud document storage service in the last few years. The Dropbox app allows you to access all of your documents on your iPad, even when offline, just make sure to enable two-factor authentication to keep your business sensitive documents extra secure.
Document Signing - DocuSign
It’s all well and good to digitise all the paper that comes your way, but when you have to print PDFs just to get a signature, digitisation can seem a waste of time. DocuSign lets you create and send documents for signing without the need for any paper. And yes, documents signed through the service are legally binding in the UK.
Content Management System
WordPress rules the internet: 25 per cent of all websites use this content management system. The WordPress app allows you to publish content, update your business’s information, and respond to any comments on the go. Keeping your website useful and relevant is a vital business task that needs to happen whether or not you’re sat behind a desk.
Website Analytics: you can keep an eye on what’s happening on your website with the Google Analytics app. There’s a learning curve to understanding all the data you’ll get, but insight on how your customers use your website can be invaluable.
Customer Analytics - BLACKBX The inspiration of an Edinburgh-based entrepreneur, can gather customer information such as email addresses in exchange for free wifi services, which we know contributes to increased customer dwell times. The BX Reports app includes analytics such as new and returning visits, peak visit times as well as managing Quality of Service (QoS), download limits and disabling your business’ wifi outside of business hours.
Blackbx allows business owners to create customer mailing lists, which can be imported into programs such as MailChimp to entice customers back with special offers.
Marketing Communications - MailChimp / MailChimp Subscribe
Every business manual tells you to keep in touch with your customers.
Your best customers want to hear about your offers and other news, so give them that information via a MailChimp newsletter. A business newsletter keeps your customer relationships fresh, and your business in mind. Capturing email addresses in person with MailChimp Subscribe is a great way to take your real-world conservations online.
Point of Sale - Intelligent Point of Sale, intelligentpos
My own experience of setting up and running small businesses is that it can be hard to stay on top of everything when so much is going on. When helping customers, making sales, and processing payments it’s difficult to keep up with administrative tasks such as recording sales data, tracking inventory, and running a loyalty scheme. Yet this is exactly the type of information that can help you identify growth opportunities for your business. This is exactly why we created the Intelligent Point of Sale app.
It’s an easy way to capture this data and keep your mobile business running smoothly.
When business is all about great personal service, Appointedd for Business is another great Edinburgh-based company worth investigating. Its online booking system allows a business to manage appointments, staff and customers on the move via an app. Customers can book from anywhere in the world, receive incentives, reminders and confirmations.
Payment - iZettle
As ‘cashless society’ becomes less of a buzz phrase and more of a reality it’s imperative to let your customers pay how they’d like to; with their contactless cards and mobile devices. iZettle is a device that processes payments through your iPad (and it plays well with the Intelligent Point of Sale app).
With payments coming in and bills to be paid, Xero Accounting & Invoices is an amazingly easy to use accounting software and its mobile app allows you to manage your cashflow, invoicing, payments and payroll on the move. You can claim expenses, enter bills and pay employees while it cleverly collates all your data, automatically filling in the relevant HMRC tax and VAT forms.
Businesses aren’t static any more. You need to make sure you can still get the important management tasks done when you’re out-and-about and with today’s technology there’s no need to compromise good business management just because you operate out-of-office. With these apps installed on your iPad, you’re well on the way to managing a well-run business from any location.
Robin Knox is the CEO and Founder of Intelligent Point of Sale.