There’s an App for That: Best Smartphone Apps for Online Companies

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Internet connection is established, an entrepreneur requires little more than talent, ambition, technical knowhow, luck and a little bit of money to launch a successful online business. But once it’s up and running, there are an almost-limitless array of apps designed to “make business easier” or to “streamline operations”. Some are buggy and clunky, others are overpriced, and some are truly irreplaceable tools that make the realities of owning and running an e-business easier to bear. Here is a guide to some of the best online business apps that 2014 has to offer.

Scan2PDF Mobile

From Scottish company Burrotech, Scan2PDF Mobile turns your smartphone’s camera into a mobile scanner. Paper clutter, the bane of far too many online businesses, can stack up — and spread out — quickly if you promise yourself you’ll do it when you get back to your home or office scanner. Receipts in the glove box. Invoices in a folder. Contracts in a briefcase. Scan2PDF Mobile turns your loose documents into the universal portable document format, or PDFs, which can be stored on your phone or emailed. Quicker than most actual scanners and photocopiers, a high-quality, color PDF can be scanned and created in less than a minute.

Fring

Why is your smartphone’s battery dying again? Probably because you have a million or so apps open at any given time — more than a few of them dedicated to communication. Fring is like a unified communications system for your phone. Get IMs and updates from AIM, Yahoo, Google Talk, ICQ, Skype, Twitter and Facebook all in the same place. Fring imports and consolidates all of your messenger services into one location. With your employees on the free app, you can place unlimited free Fring-to-Fring calls or texts, and video chat with up to four users.

Flow

If your inbox has become a landfill, and communications are being missed or misplaced, there are a million collaboration apps available to give team members a virtual meeting space. Among them, Flow stands out because it’s more than just a file-sharing app. With this little app, you can manage tasks, hold meetings and manage the day-to-day collaborative requirements that your online business puts on your staff.

Cloze

Cloze has two components — both geared toward making social-media marketing, advertising, research and customer outreach easier and more efficient. First, Cloze consolidates all of your social-media platforms into a single inbox, filtering out social media “noise” by prioritizing your contacts, friends, followers, etc. This function allows you to keep track of what your customers and clients are saying. The second function of Cloze is not to listen, but to broadcast. When your business does something shareable, Cloze lets you easily and quickly get the message out to all of your employees, clients or collaborators, so they know exactly what content to share, where to share it, and when.

Zoho

The bookkeeping/accounting sector may be the most app-saturated category in the entire app universe. For small online, e-commerce businesses, however, Zoho stands out from the masses. A step up from the free, entry-level bookkeeping apps — such as Mint and Outright — Zoho isn’t much of a step up in price — and it’s light years ahead in functionality. Collaborate and share with your accountant, create professional invoices, track expenses, bank automatically and much more — all at a price far under those commanded by the full-service bookkeeping apps.

There's an App for That: Best Smartphone Apps for Online Companies

From organization to bookkeeping to social-media marketing, apps can make the business grind less, well, grinding. Always make sure the app offers a full-service trial period with access to all of the functions prior to buying. Always look for apps that reduce redundancy (they allow you get rid of one or more older, obsolete apps) and do some online research regarding bugs or bad updates before committing a large portion of your business’s operations to an unfamiliar program. When you find one you really like, don’t be afraid to upgrade to a more full-service version. The up-front expenditure could pay dividends big time down the road.