Businesses are the life line of any economy. In most economic systems, particularly within a free market, businesses facilitate the exchange of value. It is through them that jobs are created and people are able to earn a living. Organized into numerous industries, businesses also come in different sizes – from big corporations to small and medium-sized enterprises. But it is small businesses that are the most widespread and key for job creation and economic growth.

Although the majority of people work as employees for their organizations, some entrepreneurial individuals opt for a different path and establish their own businesses. Most of them start out as small-time operators and eventually grow their enterprises into large corporations. Being a small business owner has its attractions and its risks. Careerwise, business owners are their own bosses and can, therefore, pursue all kinds of opportunities.

Though being self-employed may sound attractive to you, the reality of operating a business isn’t all fun and games. Starting a business is generally a high-risk move, especially if you consider the fact that an astonishing number of new businesses fold up during the first year of operation.

Running a business can take its toll on an individual. In managing daily business operations, how things get done can make or mar the organization. Put simply, operational efficiency should always be an ongoing priority. Using technology tools/solutions to speed up or automate manual tasks is one major way of achieving efficiency.

Let’s take a closer look at six software applications that can help you keep your business operation well organized and running smoothly. Please, note that the below list does not at all reflect the order of importance of the applications.

small business apps

1. Google G Suite

In today’s increasingly digital work environment, you’ll likely have to deal with a substantial number of documents created and exchanged between your staff, customers, and other outside parties. G Suite is a set of cloud-based apps tailored for business use. For example, if you run a student academic help service, allowing students to buy a cheap essay there will be an inevitable need before sending it out. 

The suite includes Gmail, Calendar, G Drive, and Doc among others. The idea behind is to bring together Google applications and thus help businesses of all sizes operate more efficiently. For instance, Gmail, which is part of the G Suite, can be customized by using the company’s domain name.

All applications in the suite are searchable thanks to the Cloud search option, thus ensuring effective security and administrative control. The offering is sold on a subscription basis starting from 5 USD per month.

2. Office 365

Known for being an industry pioneer, Microsoft offers a wide range of apps many of which are the industry standard in their respective categories. They include MS Word, Powerpoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Access and Project. The apps have long been bundled together into Microsoft Office.

Office 365 is a cloud-based subscription offering of these and other Microsoft apps. Designed for making collaboration and communication in the modern workplace easier, it also comes with OneDrive, Calendar, SharePoint, Microsoft Teams and Yammer among others.

You choose from the three plans: Business Essential, Business, Business Premium. The starting one (Essential) costs 5 USD per month but requires you to make an annual commitment.

One key advantage of Office 365 is that all apps are automatically updated across desktop and mobile versions so users never have to do it manually.

3. PCloud

This cloud storage service enables you to store and access your files across different devices (desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones) by creating a virtual drive on your PC. Provided there is a stable internet connection, changes to the files are synced and reflected across all connected devices. It also allows for encryption of user-selected files. In a business setting, it enables you to share documents and collaborate with staff across teams, customers and other third parties.

4. Skype

Owned by Microsoft, Skype is one of the most widely used communication applications and as such needs no introduction. It offers voice-over-IP (VoIP) audio and video calling and messaging services. It also enables users who have an active calling subscription or Skype credit to call landlines and mobile lines from their Skype account. They can also purchase Skype numbers (local numbers for select countries) and receive calls from callers in the chosen country.

Although you may already be familiar with this communication tool, you may be surprised to know that it provides its business users with a special offering called Skype for Business. Some of its extra features include online meetings with more than 10 participants, custom link invites to meetings, interactive and real-time Powerpoint presentations, screen sharing, and whiteboard collaboration between participants.

One important point to mention here is that Skype for Business is included in Office 365.

5. QuickBooks

Developed by Intuit Inc, QuickBooks is an accounting software specifically designed for small and medium-sized businesses. It allows you to handle invoicing and business receipts, expenses and payroll transactions, inventory management, track billable hours for clients and employees, automate sales tax calculation and tax deductions  It is available as a desktop application and a cloud-based solution.

The online offering is sold on a subscription basis. The plans include Simple Start, Essential, Plus, and Self-employed. The Self-employed package costs as little as 3 USD per month, while the Simple Start plan will only set you back 8 USD a month. The most expensive Plus offering will cost you 18 USD per month.

QuickBooks comes with a 30-day trial. And it may help you to know that there are over 5 million businesses using the software – at least according to the company Intuit.

6. Expensify

As the name suggests, Expensify is an expense management software for businesses. It helps employees easily capture their expenses (travels, meals, etc.) by taking photos of their receipts. The mobile app then automatically reads and captures their expense data, thus allowing for greater control over your finances. Credit and debit cards can also be linked to the Expensify app, thus allowing spending transactions to be automatically recorded in an expense report. Alternatively, your card expenses can be imported manually from which corresponding expense reports will be created.

One clear benefit of using this application is that it saves time by reducing manual tasks. The application is available in two price categories: Pay-Per-Use and Subscription. Both options include plans for group customers and individuals. There are four basic tasks that the pricing is based on – Track, Submit, Collect, and Control. Tracking involves using SmartScans to capture expenses.

There is a free allowance of 5 SmartScans per month. The paid version allows unlimited scans and will set you back 4.99USD a month. The same pricing applies to Submit. For groups where managers need to collect receipts for bookkeeping and approve reimbursements, the Collect subscription plan costs 5 USD/month per user. The pay-per-use option costs twice as much per month for each user. Lastly, the Control plan costs 9 USD for a monthly per-user subscription and 18 USD for the pay-per-use option.

If you want to try before you buy, Expensify offers you a 6-week trial.

7. Square

This is a US-based fintech company that offers an instant cash transfer/payments mobile app (Cash App) for individuals. There is also a mobile point-of-sale app (Square Point of Sale) for receiving credit/debit card and contactless payments, as well as managing other related activities. Its mobile app, available for Android and iOS devices, enables merchants to use their smartphones or tablets as mobile POS units by attaching a dongle. The company also offers a Square Register, as well as a POS solution for brick-and-mortar business operations. The solution also enables one to connect other devices such as barcode scanners and receipt printers.

Although there is no monthly subscription fee, the service charges a 2.5% transaction fee for each payment made and 10 cents for each swipe, tap or dip. Although processed payments are received by merchants within 2 business days, there is an option of instant/same-day deposits. This, however, comes at an additional cost of 1% of the desired deposit amount. 

Final thoughts

As can be seen, there are various apps that are able to boost the business operation. If running your own company seems appealing but at the same time daunting, remember that these digital assistants can be a tremendous help.