Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Nick Rojas.
If you’re an entrepreneur, the right apps can save you time and money, make you more efficient, organize your schedule and unify your employees. There are probably more apps than there are businesses — and many of them are blatant rip-offs of other apps that do the same thing. A few, however, are like children — once you have them, you forget what life was like before you had them. Here are five must-have apps for the new entrepreneur.
The Other Paper Chase: Avoid the Signature Scramble with eSign by Adobe
There was a time in the very recent past when businesses hired couriers to shuttle mountains of documents back and forth between interested parties to sign. Some documents could be handled by bike messengers. Some had to be overnighted via air mail. But either way, human beings had to hustle physical paperwork to different locations, collect signatures and bring them back. Email and the all-in-one printer enabled entrepreneurs to print, sign, scan and email documents from afar. But that is still a paper-and-ink consuming time drain. Adobe, the undisputed king of the PDF universe, solved the signature problem with eSign, which functions on the Adobe Document Cloud. Send, sign and track documents while automatically keeping meticulous records along the way — all without ever printing, scanning or faxing again.
TrackMaven: Your Undercover Corporate Spy
Ancient military strategy extraordinaire Sun Tzu said “know your enemy.” While enemies are hopefully few and far between, most entrepreneurs are never short of competitors. TrackMaven is all about gathering actionable intelligence on those competitors for use in digital marketing. TrackMaven gathers data from all kinds of far-flung sources, from social media to site traffic to text ads to SEO to earned media to display ads. It packages up everything it discovers about your competition and displays it in one universal feed. You just sit down and see what your competitors are doing, when they’re doing it, what they’re doing differently from you and how it’s working out for them. Sun Tzu would be proud — not as proud as he would be if you attacked your rival’s headquarters with a catapult, but proud nonetheless.
CloudMagic: Because You’ve Got Mail — and You’re Never Going to Stop Getting Mail
The day that Blackberry enabled business people to send and receive email from their mobile devices was both a great day and a terrible day for entrepreneurs. The upside was that business owners were no longer shackled to their offices or homes if they needed to communicate. The downside was that, ever since, your phone has become a permanent extension of your hand. No matter how many messaging apps promise to finally replace email, email is still a weekly, daily, hourly obligation in our business lives. CloudMagic makes that obligation more streamlined, more accessible and generally more bearable. It supports all email services, including Exchange, and it works across all kinds of productivity and organizational apps, like Evernote and Pocket. You have to email — a lot. Make it as productive as possible.
Bitrix24: Moving Past Dropbox for Employee Collaboration
Unite all of your far flung projects, plans and employees with Bitrix24. If those far-flung employees number fewer than 12, the software is free. There are a million file-sharing sites designed for remote employee collaboration, with Dropbox probably being the most popular, or at least the best known. Bitrix24, however, brings CRM to the table, and it also provides users with social cloud collaboration, chat and video, calendars, multi-user drives, and a mail server with unlimited space for your team. Lots of apps enable teams to collaborate, share documents and assign tasks, but Bitrix24 is the closest thing out there to a genuine online office.
Wave: Powerful Accounting Software Without the Price Tag
Mint is probably the king of free, cloud-based accounting software — but it is not the only game in town. Wave makes bookkeeping, accounting and invoicing about as exciting as boring administrative stuff can possibly be. Even if you run a business that has no employees except for yourself, you’re going to have to keep track of what’s coming in and what’s going out. Wave is not the first free, remotely hosted bookkeeping app, but it might be the easiest and most intuitive. The interface is sleek, and provides a clear snapshot of your business’s finances — all you have to do is link your accounts to the software, and Wave does the rest.
BONUS: Don’t forget your business cards!
Most new entrepreneurs know that one of their first jobs is to get their business cards designed and ready. What few know is that there’s a world outside of Vistaprint. Shopify has a business card generator app that can quickly/easily create a business card template which can then be easily sent to Staples to be printed. Finally, Camcard has a business card scanner/reader so you can keep track of all your new connections.
Sifting through an ocean of apps to find the few that can truly make you more efficient could be a full-time job of its own. But when you discover the best apps in each category, you can let awesome — and often free — software do a lot of your the grunt work for you, leaving you more time, energy and money to handle the parts of your business you love.
Featured image via Flickr.