Updated December 2020
As a small business owner, it can feel like you’re constantly being pulled between different tasks. Between being available for your customers, leads, and team, plenty of people need to talk to you. Plus, your customers expect a social media presence, and, of course, you have to keep an eye on your finances—not to mention, you know, actually getting things done.
While we can’t promise to make your schedule any less busy, there is something that can help you at least step away from your desk without panicking: your smartphone.
With the right mobile apps that are designed for small businesses, you can step away confidently, knowing you’re always reachable if anyone needs to talk to you. And you might even squeeze moments of productivity in between meetings or while you’re waiting in line at the coffee shop. (Plus, you can even impress clients by accepting payments or instantly sending invoices—while you’re standing right next to them.)
With the right apps, your smartphone could be your new secret weapon. And, as a platform that helps small businesses around the world stay connected and productive, we know just the tools you need in your pocket.
Today, we’ll share some of the best mobile apps for small business owners that we’ve seen lately. Not only will they help you find little pockets of productivity in your day, but they can help your business’ bottom line, too.
Ready to dive in? Here’s what we’ll cover today:
- Why use mobile apps for business?
- 7 mobile apps small businesses need, categorized by…
🛒 In the market for a free video conferencing app? 🛒
Our checklist includes all the essential features to look for…and even some that might surprise you!
Before we dive into the technology picks, you might be wondering why you should even bother installing business apps on your phone.
The short answer? Because that’s where our lives are now.
If you’re like most people, you probably always have your mobile device on you, and you use it for everything from email to working out to ordering dinner. So it just makes sense that there would be great apps available to help your business, too.
Plus, with the right mobile apps, you can find moments of productivity when you’d otherwise be waiting in line, riding the train, or scrolling social media. It can even give you the freedom to step away from your desk or office, knowing you can still manage your business on the go.
But one of the top benefits of mobile apps for small businesses is that they’ll help you save time and money—probably the two most precious resources you have. Especially if you work in a small business
Streamlined communication, easy-to-access notes, social media planning, and productivity tools can all do wonders for you and save otherwise wasted time.
And, if it’s money you’re looking to conserve, the right financial apps can help you track finances and get paid faster. Plus, the apps themselves aren’t going to be a financial burden—many of the apps on this list are inexpensive, and some are even free.
Have we convinced you to turn your mobile device into your most valuable business tool yet? Good—let’s dive into seven apps that will help you create a streamlined and organized small business.
If there’s one thing that helps small businesses run effectively, it’s great communication. Staying connected and communicating as a small team saves wasted time and energy on misunderstandings, helps keep everyone clear on priorities, and ensures efficient problem-solving.
And whether you have a remote team or just want to stay connected when you’re away from your desk, the right mobile app can make sure that you and your team don’t stop communicating just because someone’s out of the office.
The best mobile app for: staying connected, even when you’re on the go.
The thing about most communication apps is that they tend to be focused exclusively on one kind of communication—you have an app for team messaging, and another for video conferencing. But do you really want your team and clients to download an app for chat, another one for business calls, and yet another if you need to hop on a video call?
That’s a recipe for confusion and lost communication.
With Glip by RingCentral, you can have all of your professional communications in one place.
Glip offers free group meetings up to 24 hours for up to 100 participants, plus you can have unlimited users on an account!
Message your team…
Start a video conference—with closed captioning…
And create events for your team…
All in one place.
And best of all, Glip’s Pro plan is completely free!
If you are looking for more advanced features like single-sign-on, analytics, and a business phone service, you can upgrade from Glip Pro to Glip Pro+.
Technology tools don’t all have to be internal, though. There are a lot of great mobile apps for small business marketing that can also help you manage customer-facing communications, especially social media.
This is one area where small businesses can save tons of time. Instead of having to come up with something clever to post each day, the right mobile apps can help you batch that work ahead of time and schedule your posts to go up automatically.
And, while you can schedule social media posts on your desktop, too, scheduling on mobile gives you the opportunity to experience your content in the same way that most of your followers will.
The best mobile app for: visually managing your Instagram feed.
Later is a social media scheduler that saves you and your team time by allowing you to schedule social media posts in advance.
The best part? Using their mobile app, you can manage your social accounts from anywhere, uploading that picture you just snapped on your smartphone right away so you’ll never forget about a great shot.
And while you can manage your Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook accounts from Later, it’s ideal for businesses that are visually focused and trying to grow their Instagram.
That’s because Later’s visual editor is designed to help you see how your planned photo posts look together, allowing you to drag and drop images around to plan the best grid for your brand.
It also is great for labeling, organizing, and keeping track of your many images, so you’re never stuck with nothing to post.
The best mobile app for: running all of your social media from one place.
Another option for social media management? Buffer. Similar to Later, Buffer is a tool for scheduling your social media posts in advance.
Buffer allows you to connect all of your social media platforms and even drag and drop between them in your schedule to publish the same content across sites.
Doing the work once and reaping the rewards multiple times? Sounds like time savings to us!
Their mobile app is great for sharing updates on the go, but it is surprisingly robust, with most of the same tools and information that you’ll find on the desktop version. Create your posting schedule, fill it in, and keep an eye on performance, all from your mobile app.
You can even share links from other apps, like a browser window, seamlessly in the Buffer app. So, if you’re reading an article you think your followers would like, it’s easy to add it into your Twitter schedule, all on your phone.
Your business can’t run on time saved alone, though—you actually need paying customers to keep everything running smoothly. And, of course, it isn’t always easy to manage that part of your business—but it’s crucial.
Simply knowing your numbers can help you save money, and with the right mobile apps for small business, you can have a crystal-clear idea of where your business stands.
The best mobile app for: staying on top of your finances from anywhere.
Wave is a powerful accounting app perfect for small businesses. And, while many of your standard accounting functions are best managed on desktop, that doesn’t mean you can’t get some invoicing done on the go.
Using Wave’s mobile app, you can create and send an invoice from anywhere.
Want to send an invoice to a client you’re standing right next to? No problem with Wave’s mobile invoicing. Need to quickly check the status of an invoice in between meetings? Mobile invoicing saves the day.
Another great mobile feature that Wave offers is receipt scanning.
No more trying to remember where you put that crumpled up receipt after having coffee with a client. Just scan it right away, and Wave will upload it to the cloud and sync it with your account.
When it’s easy to keep track of every single expense, they don’t slip through the cracks, and your business saves money. Plus, when you manage your expenses, tax season is suddenly quick and painless—doesn’t that sound nice?
And because it’s completely free to use, Wave is a great option for small businesses. You just pay credit card processing fees on payments or payroll processing fees if you use that service.
💸 What WFH expenses should you look for when you’re managing your finances? We collaborated with Bench, an online bookkeeping service, to create this guide that’ll come in handy as you’re looking through your business expenses.
The best mobile app for: flexible payment options.
One of the best ways to manage cash flow is to stay on top of payment periods—namely, getting paid faster.
And one of the best ways to get your clients and customers to pay quickly? Give them options for how to pay.
You probably already know that the Square mobile app gives you the flexibility to be able to accept credit card payments in person, right away—meaning security and cash flow for your business.
But Square’s app offers flexibility for you, too. Not only can you use their magstripe reader to swipe customers’ cards, but you can also manually input the information, accept online payments, or even send invoices through Square.
Plus, Square is a secure, trusted app that your customers will feel comfortable using. And that security and peace of mind will make your business look more professional, too.
Square is free to download and will even send you a free card reader. Just pay credit card processing fees when you accept payments.
The great thing about choosing Glip for your communication platform? You already have built-in task management, which saves you from having to install (and pay for) yet another app on your phone.
But that doesn’t mean you couldn’t use a couple of apps to help you save time and stay organized on a day-to-day basis.
The best mobile app for: business owners that want to stay on top of their notes.
Sure, you can take notes with a pen and paper—but when it comes time to actually access that information, can you find what you’re looking for? With Evernote, you can not only organize your important notes and documents but access them anywhere using the mobile app.
And before you think a note-taking app sounds way too simple, consider how convenient it could be to have access to the notes you took on your computer, also on your mobile device.
That’s right—go ahead and review your client notes on the way to a meeting, or flesh out your ideas while waiting in line at school pickup.
You can also upload images, audio, PDFs and more into your documents so that you always have access to the items you need, even when you’re on the go.
Plus, there are tons of organizing and formatting options to help you turn your brain dump into something you can actually read later. Not feeling that level of organization? Search for keywords to find what you need instead.
It’s simple and streamlined, while being so much more powerful than other note taking options.
If you want to use Evernote solo, they have a free plan, but to get your entire team on board, it will cost $14.99 per user, per month.
The best mobile app for: eliminating distractions on mobile.
As much as we love our mobile devices and all of the things they can do for us, we have to admit that sometimes they can be a bit distracting. If you’re working on developing better self control when you need to set down your phone and get to work, we get it.
Just download Forest, and start motivating yourself to commit to focused, productive time.
When you want to stay focused, plant a tree to select an amount of time to stay off your phone. As you work, your tree will grow.
And if you pick up your phone to mindlessly scroll? That tree will die.
It’s simple, but it works. That small barrier of killing a virtual tree will keep you focused and productive—because for small businesses, every productive minute matters.
Plus, the app also gives back, giving users an opportunity to help plant real trees, too, while remaining free to use.
What small business mobile apps are you using?
Whether you’re hoping to save time and money or just looking for the secret to getting away from your desk for a minute, mobile apps for business can be just the solution you’re looking for.
With the right apps, you can turn your smartphone into a business machine, managing money, communicating with clients, and engaging with social media followers all from one device.
So what are you waiting for? Time to start downloading!
Originally published Dec 15, 2020, updated Jan 15, 2021