Jonathan Amponsah from The Tax Guys picks out the most useful apps to help you manage your business…
Do you know what is gobbling up your time? Are your days filled by meetings? Are you on top of your business finances? How much time do you spend on activities such as making appointments and chasing payment from customers? And just how often do you have space to think creatively about the future of your business, including new services, products and revenue streams? It’s a worthwhile exercise to review your current ways of working and where you can use help. Here we pick out our favourite and most useful apps to help your run your business.
1. Clockify, Toggle, Hubstaff and Time Doctor
Where did the time go? With so much going on, it’s not uncommon to ask yourself what you’ve achieved during the day. Well now you can automatically monitor how you spend your time so you can identify where and how to be more productive. You will be amazed just how much of your time gets diverted away from important tasks. And these tools also help you get organised. So you can focus on a task for 45 minutes and really get things done.
2. Calendly, Acuity Scheduling and Timetrade
Going back and forth with clients and stakeholders to schedule appointments, reschedule, and then reschedule again can be time consuming. Avoid email and telephone tag when arranging meetings. With any of the above tools, people can now access a version of your diary that shows them all of the slots that you have decided to make available for meetings.
3. Zoom, Goto Webinar and RingCentral
Cut out the travel time and meet your prospects or staff online via a video meeting app. You can share screens, take control of their computers and even use white boards just like you would do in a live meeting.
4. Receipt Bank, Auto Entry and Expensify
It can be time consuming for you to collate and record all those invoices and receipts. And if you send them to your accountant in a shoebox, they will spend additional time reviewing and sorting them which means more costs. There are some good apps including Auto Entry, Expensify and Receipt Bank that allow you to capture these receipts on the go and send them directly to your accountant. You can even ask your suppliers to send their invoices to the app to free up your inbox a bit. Think about the headspace you will find with less in your inbox.
5. FreeAgent, Xero and Quickbooks
Do you ever get nervous about your accounts or how much tax you have to pay at the year end? Thankfully, gone are the days when bookkeeping software was written in complicated languages that only accountants could use or understand. The likes of FreeAgent, QuickBooks and Xero have truly transformed the way bookkeeping and accounting is done. And if you combine this with regular bookkeeping reconciliation services, you no longer have to spend time and energy at year end worrying about the books. You can see how your business is doing on a monthly rather than yearly basis.
6. People HR, Breath HR
Do you still spend time on paper forms or excels or legacy desktop systems to keep your HR records? Do your staff have to submit forms or send you other manual requests to book their holidays? How long does it take you to check whether the business will have sufficient staff during a holiday period and then to approve the holiday? Try any of the above tools and see the time, money and effort they can save your business.
7. GoCardless, IntegraPay
You’ve done the work to please the customer and you’ve probably incurred staff and materials costs. You now wait for 30 days and then wait more and still no sign of that promised cash. You’re now dashing for cash or frantically calling customers at the last minute to get assurance that you will be paid just so that you can, at least, meet those bills including payroll. Pretty stressful experience.
Why not avoid all of this and use an online direct debit app so that you and your customer can now agree when you will take payment? Easier and quicker for everyone – and certainly less stressful for you.
8. Spotlight Reporting, LivePlan, Profitsee
Do you know the key numbers that matter in your business? Are these presented in a useful way that helps you make business decisions? And are you able to look forward and predict what your cashflow would look like in, say, three months? If you’re spending a lot of time on your numbers or you don’t know where you’re at with the finances try the above tools either independently or through your accountant for free.
9. Adobe Echo sign, Docusign
So, your meeting with the new customer went well. You promised to send them the contract to sign. They wait for a day or two. Only to receive pdf contracts with instructions to print, sign, scan and email back. Or worse to put the signed copy in the post to head office. The phone rings. Your customer picks up and his/her attention is diverted away. Why not cut the waste and time by using online document creation and signing apps? Or simply send your customer a secured link to approve and enter their payment details.
10. Zapier, Workato and Others
With all these useful apps, it’s important to ensure they integrate and talk to each other to avoid further waste and chaos. Apps like Zapier and Workato allow you to link two systems together without any coding or programming skills. A key selection criterion for your apps should be whether the App has what is called an API to enable it to link to other systems.
Of course, there are many other useful apps I haven’t been able to include here. However, what is most important is that you select some apps that can help you to reduce the number of manual processes you have, take advantage of automation where you can, and free up time and breathing space.
Jonathan Amponsah is an award-winning chartered tax adviser and accountant who has advises business owners on business streamlining apps and processes to make business less taxing. Jonathan is the founder and CEO of The Tax Guys.