If you're a sole trader or owner of a small business, there has never been a better time to visit the app store of your chosen smartphone. Thanks to the efforts of a thriving developer community and increasingly powerful hardware, the ability to remain productive while on the move is now available to us all.
There are literally thousands of apps available on every conceivable mobile platform, all of which are designed to make the best use of small screens and provide users with tools previously only available on cumbersome desktop and laptop computers.
Unfortunately, with such a colossal choice of apps to sift through, it can be somewhat daunting for those with limited time to hunt down the best tools for their business.
Good news - we've done the hard work for you, which is why, in this post, you'll find 8 of the best mobile apps for small businesses.
1. Evernote (iOS, Android, free)
If you spend most of your day wading through multiple notebooks trying to find the essential points you noted down during your last client meeting, Evernote may very well be the most useful discovery you'll make today.
Available across pretty much every mobile and desktop platform you can think of, Evernote gives you the ability to create multiple notebooks into which you can pile all of your notes, images, web pages and doodles. You can tag notes for easy retrieval later on and the ability to collaborate with other Evernote users completes an app that should be on the home screen of every business owner's smartphone.
2. Xpenditure (iOS, Android, free)
Receipt management can be a considerable source of frustration for anyone running a small business, but with Xpenditure, you can finally wave goodbye to that wallet full of receipts and accompanying, bulging spreadsheet.
Simply take a photo of your receipt with your smartphone camera and Xpenditure will automatically decipher the amount, VAT, date and merchant. You can then draw up a monthly report when processing time arrives. Xpenditure saves an inordinate amount of time you can better spend on running your business.
3. Google Docs (iOS, Android, free)
Google's free alternative to Microsoft Office is very popular with small businesses, and the companion mobile apps increase the value of Google Docs considerably by offering all of the functionality found in their web-based brethren.
If you thought small-screen spreadsheet editing was a non-starter, we'd urge you to try our Google's range of mobile apps. The collaboration features alone are fantastic for any business that relies on communication with remote colleagues and partners.
4. Trello (iOS, Android, free)
Task and project management is often the bane of small business owners' lives. Thankfully, Trello performs the seemingly impossible feat of making such stuff enjoyable with an addictive card-based method for creating and actioning to-do lists.
If you work with others, you can all get involved by using Trello's simple but effective messaging system which enables conversations to take place within each task. Working your way methodically through multiple projects has never been so much fun!
5. Wordpress (iOS, Android, free)
Wordpress is one of the most popular blogging platforms, but is also a fantastic website creation tool for small businesses. The mobile app enables you to publish blog posts quickly while on the move and even lets you view detailed statistics for your website.
6. LastPass (iOS, Android, free)
Chances are, you've got a lot of passwords linked to your business and you're forever being told that you shouldn't use the same one each time. Easier said than done? With LastPass, you can put all of your login details for the various websites and services you use into one, secure location.
Password security has never been more important, and apps like LastPass enable you to operate a far more robust password regime. With it, you can set up different passwords for different services and let it do the remembering for you.
7. Hootsuite (iOS, Android, free)
Social media now features prominently in most marketing plans, and it's a safe bet that your business already has a presence on at least Twitter and Facebook. Unfortunately, managing multiple social networks can be time consuming, which is why Hootsuite makes this list.
In Hootsuite, you can bring all of your social media accounts under one roof and post content to them from a single screen. That means no logging in and out of websites and the ability to schedule posts in advance. It is hands down the best way to manage your social media campaigns.
8. Box (iOS, Android, free)
Mobilising your files has never been easier. Box offers new users a generous 10GB of cloud storage completely free of charge. You simply upload your files to Box and then use the mobile app to access them wherever you happen to be. Your brochures, spreadsheets and crucial documents can follow you wherever you go.
The above list is certainly not-exhaustive, but it represents what we believe to be the best examples of how a small screen can become any business owner's best friend while away from the office.
Written by Mark Ellis, author at BusinessFiction