TECHNOLOGY • December 26, 2014
3 minutes Read
By Gene Marks
Small business influencer Gene Marks is a guest blogger for CAN Capital. He is a celebrated author, columnist and small business owner.
Over the next few years, look for your mobile devices to become more of a business tool and less of a toy. The change has already begun. Of course, you’re using your smartphone or tablet for email, texting, phone calls and to manage your contacts. You’re probably keeping a simple calendar and to-do list on it, too. You browse the internet and get driving directions. All of these functions are important to today’s business owner using a mobile device. But in 2015, a few mobile apps are also emerging as core tools that you should be using, too. Here are at least seven that I recommend you use.
EchoSign/DocuSign. These are two competing mobile apps that essentially do the same, very powerful thing: enable you to manage documents and get e-signatures on the go. You can upload proposals, quotes, orders and agreements and send them to your customers for sign-off. You can access these same documents on your mobile device and have them sign while you’re there with them. And the applications store these docs forever. These services eliminate paperwork and speed up the sales process.
Evernote. This application allows you to take notes wherever you are in all formats – text, videos, voice, links, photos, etc. You can categorize your notes. You can share them with others in your company. You can quickly search. And every time you save a note it’s saved online which means you can access your notes from any device you want.
CRM. Hopefully your company already has a customer relationship management (CRM) system. If you don’t, then that’s a whole other conversation! Every great CRM application has a good mobile application that goes with it. In most cases, it’s a free add-on. CRM only works well if you can access and update your contacts, accounts, opportunities, quotes, forecasts and calendar wherever you are. The clients we know who use CRM well rely heavily on their mobile application. It’s one of the few solely business-oriented mobile apps used today and it will only grow in popularity.
Office. By this I mean Microsoft’s Office Mobile, but it can also mean Google Apps or other similar mobile apps. I like Microsoft Office Mobile because so many of us are tied into Microsoft Office already. It gives you the same interface and much of the same functionality that you’re used to. You get Word and Excel, Yammer, Skype and OneNote. You also get free OneDrive storage online and the company is working feverishly to add more and more functionality in the future, including integrations with Outlook, Sharepoint and Dynamics CRM. Did I mention that Microsoft Office Mobile is free?.
Travel Apps. If you’re a business owner you’re likely spending some time on the road. If that road is mostly local, then make sure to have Waze on your smartphone to warn you of traffic jams before you reach them. If you’re going out of town, like many of us do, download the apps for your preferred hotel, airline and (if you’re on the East Coast) Amtrak. With these apps you can reserve rooms, flights and trains in advance. You can check in and get boarding passes before you leave the house. If you’re counting pennies, like most of us are, then download HopStop, a great mobile app for helping you navigate the public transit systems for any major city, step by step and avoid expensive cab fares.
Expensify. I love this application because it’s all about business. What’s more important to a business owner than controlling expenses? With Expensify, you and your people can take photos of receipts or forward confirmation emails and the service magically scans and transcribes the data into an expense report which can then be reviewed, categorized and sent to your accountant. It’s a time saver, a data keeper and a great way to track your company’s out of the office expenses. And the service integrates with most popular accounting applications.
Bonus app: Spotify. This has nothing and everything to do with your business. Nothing because the music service, which has millions of songs (except of course, certain ones by Taylor Swift) has nothing to do with your P&L. But trust me – on those days when running your business is eating you up, when that irate customer threatens not to pay, when that employee doesn’t show up to work or when, most importantly, those two annoying people behind you in line are yakking away, you can plug in, zone out to some great classic rock, and just….relax. What more could a business owner want?