Last weekend, we had our next door neighbours over for a roast dinner; and don’t worry we adhered to the rule of 6 before anyone asks! We were chatting about work and they asked what I did so I explained that I’m a graphic designer and content creator. We chatted about how I did my job and how there were some key apps that help me do what I do. They were amazed with the way I’d automated a lot of my back office using simple integrations that literally anyone can do with the click of a button. So I thought I’d share some of my favourite apps with my LinkedIn community, just in case this information was useful to anyone else in business…
Main benefit: diary control
Cost: Free, optional paid subscription – I use the secondary level at £96 per year
SME business owners are generally some of the most time poor people out there. So diary control becomes an incredibly challenging part of their daily lives. I am no exception – my diary was a constant source of stress and confusion, until I found Calendly. This app allows clients to directly book meetings into your diary so you avoid the awkward back and forth suggesting potential times and dates. You can specify the times where you are available and make a link available to anyone you need to meet with. The Calendly app syncs with powerhouse apps like Outlook and Zoom to seamlessly integrate and streamline diary management.
Main benefit: Multi-device email and calendar management
Cost: Microsoft365 subscription at £9 per month upwards – I use the entry level package
Outlook is the leading email client software package and paves the way in digital connectivity. I use Outlook on my iMac, MacBook Pro, iPad and iPhone to sync my emails and calendar across all devices – I know what I’m doing and when I’m doing it at the swipe of a screen. Outlook is such a widely used, huge app that it integrates with most apps on the market and works exceptionally well with Calendly.
Main benefit: File storage and access on the go
Cost: Free with a Microsoft365 subscription
OneDrive is an incredible app that can be used on desktop or mobile device. I use it for my main storage archive for my historic data files and it allows me to access upload and download anything on the go from my iPhone, iPad or on my desktop iMac. It paves the way in cloud storage and makes the cost of secure and robust storage – with a Microsoft365 business package, you get 3 terabytes included. This is perfect for most SMEs – even a data heavy one like mine. You can increase your storage space as you need it at an affordable monthly cost.
Main benefit: Secure and fast direct text messaging to individuals or groups
The messaging platform (owned by Facebook) has become a powerhouse app that has replaced traditional text messaging and photo/video messaging in recent times. I use this app for fast answers from clients – I set up a group with all relevant parties included so I can get information out to clients quickly and request answers from them if I need to action something quickly. The best thing about WhatsApp is that it a free app and can be used on 4G data but is most efficient when used on WiFi. If you don’t use this for your work, you are missing a trick!
Cost: Free with paid subscriptions – I use the full version at £39 one off payment
InShot is my little secret! In recent times, video has become more and a more and more important part of digital marketing as major social platforms start to encourage video use in their algorithms. Video can be expensive to execute by outsourcing to video production companies so a lot of SME owners will attempt to shoot their own video using smartphones. This is perfectly fine and admirable but the quality of the final edit can often let the end product down. Unless of course, you have discovered and use InShot. This mini video editor is perfect for anyone looking to up their game with self-shot smartphone video. The app has many more features than standard video editors like iMovie and the free version is decent value, InShot is well worth the £39 one off fee.
Main benefit: Simple sales pipeline, contact and job tracking
Cost: £10 per month, per user
Pipedrive has been a real driver for my business over the last 3 years or so. It syncs with Outlook very well so calendars and emails integrate with a click of a button. It also collates contact data and links to Mailchimp extremely well – meaning you can really start to utilise up to date email lists for email marketing. I like Pipedrive because it gives me a jobs list, a sales pipeline and allows me to forecast when jobs should end and cash should come in. Although they sell it as a sales pipeline software package, I see it more as a very simple CRM system as the features lend themselves to organisation really well. I have a referral code for Pipedrive so if anyone would like to trial it, please get in touch.
Main benefit: On the go bookkeeping
Cost: From £20 per month
This is an app that I’ve yet to start using but I’m about to start the process of migrating across to from another accounting package. I’ve heard rave reviews of Xero from a number of trusted business contacts which convinced me to switch. My current accounting package doesn’t give as many features in mobile app form as Xero and this was a really attractive feature for me. The bank reconciliation process is also a very intuitive feature of Xero that saves a lot of time. As an SME business owner, anything that saves time is a good thing! I’ll do a review on this next year once I’ve had a good crack at using it.
So there you have it! My top 7 apps for SMEs – I hope you’ve found it interesting and that you’ll consider using some of these apps yourself as I firmly believe they’ll have a positive effect on any small business. Please get in touch for more information on any of these apps and if you’d like a referral code for Pipedrive just comment below or send me an email.