Most small business owners have a smartphone and probably use it to do a range of things that were once considered time consuming and difficult. Did you know that you can save time and money by employing apps to solve some everyday business problems? In this article we’ll take a quick look at 7 types of apps you can use in conjunction with many bookkeeping and accounting software packages, that can help to literally transform your business.

1. Get Paid Faster with Payment Apps

For Businesses that Send Invoices

Invoices are almost always paid outside of businesses trading terms. When invoices are sent and offer instant payment options like PayPal, credit card, or other online payment methods accounts are settled faster. In some cases, money comes in twice as quickly, dramatically improving your cash flow.

For Retail Businesses

Point-of-sale payment apps can turn your smartphone or tablet into a portable cash register. Deployed properly and with minimal training, your staff can serve customers right where they are rather than creating a bottleneck at counters, bars, etc. You’ll be able to do away with your traditional cash register, entirely.

2. Make Data Entry Go Away

Most business owners hate keeping track of their business transactions. Entering small receipts is an annoyance so great that many business owners procrastinate until the last moment – and end up having to enter a mountain of transactions in their bookkeeping system. Dealing with a mountain of paper receipts makes it even more annoying.

Automate the process. New technology allows you to use your smartphone to record receipts by simply photographing them. The app reads the image you’ve taken, captures the purchase data and sends it straight into your accounting system. It does the same for electronic invoices. All you need to do is forward your emailed invoices to the app and let it do the rest!

3. Easily Keep Accurate Time Records

Sub-standard timekeeping can cost you money. From compliance-related issues, through to overpaying hourly workers and over-servicing clients, effective timekeeping is critical for many businesses. Most small business owners think that a quality timekeeping system will be expensive and difficult to use. Apps mean that’s no longer the case.

Timesheet apps allow staff to clock on from their smartphones, using the phone’s GPS to confirm they’re actually at the required work location. There’s no infrastructure to buy or install, as you’re leveraging from existing technological infrastructure such as the internet and GPS.

Time records can be coded too, allowing you to properly attribute how much time is being spent on specific tasks and/or jobs.

4. Control Your Inventory

Inventory management is a nightmare for many businesses – often consuming weeks each year through periodic stocktakes. That not only costs you time and money but limits your ability to produce truly useful information, like calculating the true cost of goods sold (COGS).

Apps can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you, adding new items to inventory as stock comes into your business and subtracting goods as they’re sold or used in the manufacturing process. With minimal staff training, you’ll have a real-time view of your current inventory, helping you to get your ordering right and allowing you to drill down hard into COGS.

5. Sell Goods Online

Increasingly, businesses are selling their products and services online – not just through their own websites – but via large, organically visible platforms such as Facebook, Amazon and eBay. Those big platforms can really expand the reach of your business and add plenty of profitability to your bottom line.

That said, e-commerce can be incredibly daunting and staying across multiple shops can be nightmarish. Now, off-the-shelf apps have you covered, integrating seamlessly with your accounting software, so you can keep oversight of the whole business, regardless of what platform you’re selling on.

6. Predict Sales & Cash Flow Using a CRM

Set up and used properly, customer relationship management (CRM) software can bring discipline and efficiency to your sales process.

Set up your CRM to reflect the steps of your entire sales cycle, then work out where each of your current prospects sits within that funnel. Over time, you’ll be able to work out with a high degree of accuracy what sales and/or marketing activities are required at each stage of the sales cycle, perhaps even automating some of those activities.

A properly configured CRM will help you to work out when prospects might turn into sales, helping with your cash flow management. Your CRM can be synced with your accounting software too, enabling sales personnel to issue invoices immediately they convert a prospect into a sale!

7. Manage Your Payroll Without the Headaches

It takes a lot of effort to pay people the right amount, on the right day, whilst complying with all of your tax obligations and various and reporting requirements. All quality bookkeeping systems offer payroll management. These systems automatically calculate tax, superannuation obligations, your reporting requirements and in some cases pay salaries directly into staff bank accounts.

Payroll apps can make it easy for you reimburse expenses, keep track of employee leave and leave requests, monitor long service leave calculations and deal with a wide range of other uniquely payroll related issues. They also allow you to manage payroll on the move, via your smartphone or tablet.

Apps Galore!

There are literally thousands of business and accounting apps on offer for IOS, Android and Windows. Some are free. Some cost quite a bit of money. In the coming months, I plan to individually review some of the apps that I think offer something special for your business and/or offer great value for money.

Checking out the various app stores and reading the reviews is always a great start. I’d be interested to hear about any business productivity apps that you’ve found to be particularly worthwhile.

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