7 useful apps for small businesses

September 26, 2017

The following article was contributed by Carol Wood, People Operations Director at Homebase

Every small business owner wants to be able to do more in less time. Luckily, with the help of technology, there are a number of useful apps that keep things running smoothly day in and day out. From password management systems to meditation reminders, these apps will help any small business owner boost productivity and even make a crazy day a bit less chaotic. While not all of these apps can integrate directly with your Clover device, it’s helpful to know what tools are out there as you decide how you want to set up your best practices.

1. Google Drive

Google Drive is a one-stop shop for free productivity tools. Similar to Microsoft Office, Google Docs handles documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, along with a host of templates and plugins that’ll help you get more done even faster. Google Drive also includes file storage and sharing, so you can upload any file and share it with anyone in just a few clicks. You’ll also have access to your files on virtually any device, including your smartphone. This can be particularly useful for management-level communications and record keeping.

2. HR Resources App

Sitting in the back office buried in paperwork is no way to spend the day when there are useful apps to help you with HR. I mean, you could scour the internet looking for templates for employee reviews, new hire documents, and more. Or, you could go straight to your HR Resources app to find everything you need at your fingertips. You can create job description documents, and establish consistency across your interviews for various levels of positions. No small business should neglect regulation on this front, and HR Resources makes best and fair practices easy.

3. Wunderlist / Google Keep

Keeping track of everything you have to do is a task in and of itself. That’s why to do list apps have been doing so well. You already keep your phone within arm’s reach for most of the day, so why not use it to keep track of the tasks you have to complete? Whether it’s reminding you to submit payroll or to pick up milk on your way home, it can help you remember anything from professional to personal. I’m a big fan of these apps because it’s easy to organize tasks and invite collaborators (such as managers at certain locations) to keep everyone on track. When you set up your reminders for tasks, you’ll never forget a deadline again because you can access tasks across all your devices. Try Wunderlist on iOS and Android, and Google Keep on all platforms.

4. Clover Rewards

Your customers love buying from you and putting a digital rewards program in place could further sweeten the deal. Maybe you’ve used punch cards for years or are worried that customers won’t want to take the time to sign up for it. Clover Rewards is definitely worth a try. What’s great about Rewards is that through the Clover app you can create your own loyalty program that makes sense for your business. From the app, you can launch email marketing campaigns and gain new customers. The platform definitely does more than your average stamp card, making it one of the most useful apps for small businesses.

5. Yelp for Business Owners

To say the least, Yelp changed the game. It was a blessing and sometimes even a curse for small businesses. Glowing reviews attract more customers who stumble upon you online and give you a try because your star rating is out of this world. But one and two star reviews also have a big impact when you only have a few reviews. With Yelp for Business Owners, you can know what customers are saying about you and respond in real-time. That way you can address problems right after they happen, potentially turning disgruntled customers’ frowns upside down. Beyond that, you can also see your page’s metrics in terms of how many visitors you got each day, update your pictures, and respond to messages right from the app. Try Yelp for Business Owners on iOS and Android.

6. Headspace

Running a business takes a lot of mental energy, and getting burnt out isn’t an option. Taking time to recharge periodically will keep stress at bay and help you remain calm, even during difficult customer interactions. There are a number of meditation apps popping up that aim to do just that. Headspace is one of the best because it works around your schedule and helps you meditate to manage sleep issues or stress levels in just a few minutes a day. Beyond helping you find balance through meditation, it also guides you through exercises to boost focus and compassion—and we can all use a bit more of that. Find Headspace on iOS and Android.

7. Homebase

Scheduling your employees takes time when you’re doing it the old school way. You have to take into account their availability, make sure you’re properly staffed for each shift, and manage breaks as well. Now there’s a way to do it all from your mobile phone, so that you aren’t glued to Excel anymore. Homebase’s Schedule and Time Clock apps both integrate seamlessly with Clover. They even let you put your scheduling on autopilot with the ability to copy last week’s schedule, or even automate the entire process. On the employee side, your employees get reminders when they need to come in. Reduced no-shows and an easier scheduling process certainly make for a useful app for small business owners.

Carol is People Operations Director at Homebase. With free online tools and mobile apps for managers and employees, Homebase eliminates the paperwork and headaches of schedulingpayroll, and team communication for local business.

At Homebase, Carol focuses on providing thought leadership, tips and tricks, and scalable HR solutions for the 50,000 businesses that Homebase serves. Prior to Homebase, Carol focused on helping small and medium businesses navigate the tricky waters of human resources, working with companies across the retail, food service, oil and gas, and healthcare industries through her roles as HR Director at Fuddruckers and Achilles Group, a Houston Based HR consulting firm. In her free time, Carol enjoys spending time with her son Dayton, and watching Alabama football (RTR).

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[image: Cheese and Wine Specials Blackboard by Alpha on flickr]