Contributed by Fundera
For many businesses, “tools of the trade” now means smartphones and web apps. There are a wealth of apps, platforms, and software providers businesses enlist to help workers stay organized, focused, and in compliance. Even sole proprietors have tools on their phones or laptops that help them stay on track.
The question is why spend money on some of these tools when there are so many free options and versions floating around the web? The answer is simple: Some are worth the investment.
When using free apps or tools, you’ll invariably run into some barriers when scaling. Maybe the free version lacks a feature that you’d find useful, or it imposes a limit on how much you can do each month. Rather than starting over with a new tool or finding manual workarounds, it’s sometimes easier and more effective to pay for something that just works.
Get things off on the right foot with these 12 apps that might help your business, and don’t be afraid to shell out some money for them. These are tools worth paying for.
Expensify is an affordable option for solo entrepreneurs and growing small and medium-sized businesses that need to track spending. Use the app to snap photos of and save receipts, log travel mileage automatically via GPS, categorize expenses, reimburse expenses, and do a ton of other tasks that will make tax season a breeze.
Asana is one of the web’s leading workplace management platforms — and for good reasons. Their clear, colorful interface helps you organize projects, plan how to tackle them, attach supporting documents, and bring in team members for their input and impact. View all your projects at a glance or go in-depth on tracking each one’s progress. Best of all, you can do all of this from your phone.
Monday.com is a different kind of workplace management platform that allows you to plan, track, and execute all of your plans with a highly visual and interactive site and app. When your timelines are longer, your teams are bigger, and your deadlines are more like estimates, Monday’s bigger-picture interface might be a better fit.
Whether your team is packed into one coworking space, taking up the whole floor of a commercial office, or 100 percent remote, Slack is the communication tool of choice these days. Use Slack to stay in touch, create project-specific channels to discuss ideas, share files and documents, and get personal with face-to-face calls and screen-shares.
If you need to host meetings — whether with employees spread across the country or local clients — an app like Join.me makes it easy. Join.me facilitates large group meetings, digital whiteboard sessions, video conferences and conference calls, and tons of recording and storage options so that you can refer back to topics discussed at any time.
Otter Voice Notes
Freelancers and business owners alike know the pain of transcribing notes from an interview, meeting, or client phone call. Otter Voice Notes is perhaps the best recording and transcription app on the market today. Simply press record and watch how the app instantly transcribes a conversation. No more arduous note-taking or worrying you missed a crucial point. The app also picks out summary keywords, so you can identify themes and search for quotes with ease. If you need more than 600 minutes a month, you’ll have to pay, but you’ll do so gladly.
So much of business is caught between the all-digital workflows of today and the paperwork of decades past. When clients and partners want you to fill out and sign an invoice, work order, or other PDF, use SignEasy. No more running to the nearest Staples or asking your neighbor to use their printer. Just download the app and sign and send documents with your finger, then track the progress of those documents as they make the rounds to other important parties.
Another app (only available on the iOS) that bridges the gap between old-school hardware and new-school digital tools is ScannerPro from Readdle. ScannerPro lets users scan documents, edit them, and share them with ease. Other cool features include the ability to extract text from other documents, send faxes, and edit photos to a professional sheen.
For all your graphic design needs, try Canva. Whether on a desktop or your phone, use Canva to create logos, flyers, posters, invitations, headers, banners, Instagram stories, and everything else that requires beautiful design. While the free version of Canva is robust, the paid versions let you use custom brand colors and fonts and export designs as GIFs, and it gives you access to over 400,000 photos and templates and other perks.
Email has become foundational for digital marketing campaigns. Of all the options, MailChimp is arguably the easiest to get started with — probably because a basic plan is free. MailChimp helps businesses craft unique email newsletters. It also automates drip campaigns and writes copy for ads across social channels like Instagram and Facebook. Integrate MailChimp with your other apps and start optimizing, testing, and automating your digital communications right away.
When it comes time to grow your team, don’t sell your business short by posting job ads exclusively on Craigslist or cold-messaging people on LinkedIn. Use a service like Proven, which includes a mobile app, to post to multiple job boards at once, store resumes, send candidates directly to your applicant tracking system, and schedule interviews. The quicker and more effective your hiring process, the more money you’ll save in the long run.
Most of the apps on this list won’t cost you more than a few dollars a day, or even a few dollars a month. A few well-planned investments in yourself and your business is money well spent. Best of all, you can access all of these tools with a few taps on your phone. Give some of these a shot with free trials, and you’ll soon find that your business can’t live without them.