• Ann Lim

3 Best Apps for Small Business

Updated: Aug 29, 2019

When setting up a new business, there are many apps in the market these days that are really useful – maybe even vital, tools for running your business. Additionally, the best ones frequently start with free or low cost subscription models making it very affordable for cost-conscious new entrepreneurs to utilize their strong functionalities. I found the following to be the most useful as a starting point.

Accounting Software – Wave

Cost : free

Why do you need accounting software?

To track and categorize business expenses for tax purposes as well as to see the financial health of your business.

What I like about Wave :

The free version already offers every accounting functionality I need – it links to my business bank account; has a mobile app to capture photos of business expense receipts; sophisticated invoice function that allows customization, duplication or recurring, auto-numbered and creation of receipts when recording payment.

When I added an employee to my business, I was glad that they offered an optional payroll feature. This had a subscription fee but it was very competitive compared to other payroll providers, with the native integration to accounting.

Their reporting functionality is phenomenal with the ability to generate P&Ls, Balance Sheets and Cash Flow statements, which are fundamental financial statements for the business. Additionally, it’s possible to get other reports by customer, vendors, sales tax, payroll etc.

Their interface is attractive, easy to use – it really has enabled me to handle bookkeeping myself (and I am a complete financial-novice), plus bill my customers very easily. I am amazed that it’s free and can see why H&R Block acquired them in July 2019. I just hope the new ownership keeps it great.

CRM – Hubspot

Cost : free

Why do you need a CRM?

To track your prospects and sales pipeline in one place

What I like about Hubspot :

Their CRM has a simpler interface, is easy to customize and therefore, more suitable for small business.

Once you set up the extension to your business email, it is integrated and automates the tracking of communications with your prospects. You just click a small box to log new emails and Hubspot is smart enough to link it to specific contacts, companies and deals.

It’s also easy to set up – for existing prospects, you start by creating the contacts. Hubspot automatically detects the contacts’ companies from their email addresses and creates the company entry. From the contact entry, you create the deal(s) and from then, Hubspot just automatically tracks all subsequent emails from those contacts to the deals.

For the deals, the stage can be updated as it progresses, and you can customize the deal stages to what’s logical for your company. From the Deal page, you can have a quick snapshot of all the deals in your pipeline, plus filter as you like.

It’s just a very well-designed database that is comprehensively matrixed so that you can pull all related information easily. I also really like the efficiency of the email automation, it works much more effectively than the instance of Salesforce I used previously.

Hubspot as a company generates a LOT of content which are pretty useful references. Due to the nature of Sweetspires, I have not needed to sign up to any paid features and don’t really expect to.

Contract Management – PandaDoc

Cost : $9 per month for individual user

Why do you need a Contract Management platform?

An efficient way to create templates, effective way to track status of document and get signatures, stay on top of contract termination dates.

What I like about PandaDoc:

After struggling for years with inefficient bid and contract management processes in large companies, I was determine to find better ways of handling these critical processes. Why start from scratch each time? Surely, it’s more efficient to take best practices, replicate them but tweak accordingly? So the first thing I like about PandaDoc is their proprietary document creation feature. It takes a little bit of getting used to at the beginning, but it allows documents to be modularize and have fields that can be automatically populated once it’s set up. The Templates function is exactly what I was looking for, when I mentioned replication of best practices. Once you set this up, you can generate any number of documents from this but customized with fields that require input. Not only does this reduce errors of overlooking fields, but it also automatically fills the document correctly throughout, a real efficiency.

Secondly, I do love the document tracking feature. For proposals and contracts, it’s good to know when they are opened and read. You can even see how much time the reader had spent on each page! While that it quite delicious insight, more useful is the ability to send reminders if the recipients had not read or signed the document.

Thirdly, it allows for redlining of the documents which is then visible to all the recipients added. When there are multiple people who need to provide input for a document, this is a much better way than sending documents around via email.

So there you go, three of my favorite apps for small businesses that are free or low-cost but very rich in features and functionality – Wave Accounting, Hubspot and PandaDoc. What are yours?

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