Small business owners rejoice! Why is that? You now live in a time when it is easier than ever to connect to your audience, sell your products, train employees and keep everyone connected via messaging apps. Additionally, the cloud has made it more straightforward than ever to run a business in real-time, rather than waiting for updated figures from a legion of staff employed for only one task. The technology revolution has made it possible for the smallest startups to go toe to toe with large and established corporations. But how can these apps help, and which are the most useful to get started?


How Can Apps Help?

When you think about apps, you may immediately think about phone apps downloaded from Google Play or the App Store. However, an app is essentially any piece of software that you can run on a computing device. These days, most applications are cloud-based and cross-platform, enabling you and your team to constantly stay updated on the latest events. This could be checking on how well an ad campaign is performing to customer care. From using an SMS sending service to confirm purchases in a more personal manner to implementing project management software to enable efficient workflows throughout your company, technology has completely changed the face of doing business in the last two decades. But in what ways can certain apps help your small business to run more efficiently? Before getting into some specific apps, you should first understand exactly how your business will benefit from implementing some of the apps mentioned in this post.


1.Perform Market Research

This is perhaps the most crucial first step of any budding business. By performing market research, you will know who your customers are, what they want to buy, and how they want to buy it. Additionally, you will see what your competitors are doing and discover methods to emulate and improve on what they are doing. Even established businesses can benefit from this task, and technology allows you to simplify it more than ever before.

Tools like similiarweb give you the data and insight you need to outperform your competitors.

Use free options such as Google Forms to create a questionnaire that you send out to your email list or via social media will gain you valuable insight into the minds of your customers. Front there, you can choose to go even further with more advanced apps, but the choice is yours.


2. Stay connected

Consumers expect brands to remain constantly connected. While it may seem like a scary proposition to be on call night and day with your customers (especially if you are selling worldwide), you can use certain apps to make this even more manageable. For example, artificial intelligence has become so advanced these days that you could set up what is known as a chatbot. These can answer most questions or queries that your customers have without your immediate input. You still need to set them up, but once they are ready, you will save a lot of time and qualify customers before contacting them and solve customers’ problems sometimes without interacting with them at all!

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Maintaining contact with your customers can make or break a business. Customers who feel neglected will not buy from you again and, worse, will give you negative reviews, further diminishing your chances of success. Fortunately, email and social media have made it straightforward to keep in contact and sort out any issues before they can grow into something more substantial. In addition, platforms like Facebook allow you to set up advertising campaigns quickly and efficiently, which enable you to reach a vast number of targeted customers.


3. Create A Flexible Work Environment

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced more people to work remotely, but the trend was heading in that direction anyway. With specific apps, you can manage teams around the globe and create workflows that work for everyone. For example, your social media manager doesn’t need to be a full-time member of staff working in your office and can work from anywhere. The same goes for almost every aspect of your business. Moreover, more and more people are setting up and running their companies from their own homes, saving money and allowing for more favorable tax deductions. As you expand, you will need to bring more operations in-house, but technology can enable you to begin small before growing. Furthermore, it has become more accessible to onboard new staff or retrain existing staff in new techniques by connecting them to virtual training manuals and “plugging” them into software systems.



4. Enable Extensive Collaboration

Collaboration might seem like a marketing buzzword, but companies need to develop new ideas and remain fresh. This collaboration can be between staff, departments, or even between you and your suppliers. The skills, talents, and expertise of each team member differ. Collaboration allows all members to utilize their expertise, knowledge, and skills to achieve a common goal. Additionally, the collaboration also speeds up the delivery process as employees can work collaboratively and leverage their strengths. An example of an app stack that can enable this would be a project management app combined with a messaging one.


What Is An App Stack?

A stack of apps is a group of apps you use in combination with one another. For example, you could use a messaging app like Slack combined with project management such as Asana or Trello to complete projects faster. Once a team member has marked their portion of a project as completed or needs more information, they can use the messaging apps to communicate in real-time with other members. This not only speeds up project completion but can allow everyone to understand the operations of the business. For example, you could use communication apps to get feedback from existing customers about a product they have bought. Once you have this feedback, you can use internal communication apps to update all team members about any improvements that need to be made. They will then check the project management application to see what ends up being done and its deadline.


Which Apps Are Essential For Small Businesses

Instead of providing specific examples, this post will cover the category and list some potential options you could choose from, in no particular order.


1.Project Management

As previously stated, this is a vital part of getting your business up and running and enables your entire team to work together to complete various projects on time and on budget.

Examples:

  • Asana.
  • Monday.
  • Trello.
  • ClickUp.

2.Internal Communication

Managing a project isn’t complete without communication. This can be to update staff or to hold virtual meetings.

Examples:

  • Slack.
  • Zoom.
  • Microsoft Teams.

3. Customer Communication

Allowing your customers to contact you for information regarding your products or to complain can go a long way in increasing customer satisfaction. No matter what the complaint might be, you should always answer them as efficiently and accurately as possible. Ignoring our customers is the fast-track way to destroy your business.

Examples:

  • Zendesk.
  • Freshdesk.
  • Intercom.
  • Social media channels.
  • Various chatbots.
  • Email.


4.Email Marketing & Automation

Email is a fantastic way to interact with your customers. Although it is a form of communication, it is classed separately from the previous selection of apps because it’s a bit more involved. You can use email as part of a marketing campaign to update existing customers about new products, to convince potential customers to become actual customers, and a range of other exciting uses. You will need to collect emails somehow and then use an email marketing service to send out your messages en masse.

Examples:

  • GetResponse.
  • Sendinblue.
  • Constant Contact.
  • Convertkit.
  • Mailchimp.

5.Payment Processing

Once you have set up a website or online shop , you need to set up a secure payment method. The process will need to be as straightforward as possible to allow efficient conversion. For example, if they have to type in their card number each time, they will likely leave and not return. However, if they merely need to click a few buttons, the seamless process will keep them coming back.

Examples:

  • PayPal.
  • Stripe.
  • Square.
  • 2Checkout.

6.Accounting

As your business grows, you will find the need to move from convoluted Excel documents to something more practical. Accounting applications have become vast pieces of software that can plug into your bank accounts and, in some cases, even handle your tax requirements. They are a huge time saver and mean that you can save money on hiring accounting staff. Additionally, you can update on the fly using their mobile applications, and it all syncs via the cloud.

Examples:

  • QuickBooks.
  • Xero.
  • FreshBooks.
  • Wave.

7.Cloud Storage/ File Sharing

Cloud storage has come a long way, in part due to the massive investment made by Amazon and its AWS platform. The past decade has shown most of the big tech giants scrambling to get on board with this lucrative business. The reason it is so profitable for them is that it is so helpful for business owners. You can store all of your information securely and switch on and off access to any member of your team./ For example, you could have a folder with all of your product photos that those who need them can access. For example, your marketing team can dip into it to use any relevant images for an upcoming campaign. Fortunately, with all of the choices available, you can typically find large amounts of storage relatively cheaply.

Examples:

  • Amazon Drive.
  • Google Drive.
  • Microsoft OneDrive.
  • Dropbox.

From setting up and managing teams to communicating with customers, applications have changed the face of business. The ones you choose will be specific to your business, but those who decide to stay updated with the latest tech will inevitably be in a better position to succeed.


Wrapping up

These days, running a small business has become easier than ever. Although competition is fierce, there are a range of useful applications that can enable you to improve almost every aspect from customer acquisition, to improving productivity. By selecting the correct tools for your specific requirements, you will discover that your customers will be happier, your team will be more creative and your bank balance much healthier!