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Idea Box: Get More Out of Your Smartphone
Using smartphone apps is an inexpensive way to make many business tasks easier and faster.

By Staff
Date Posted: 3/1/2013

                Many small business owners use smartphones. If you are one of them, are you getting the most out of your phone? Literally thousands of business applications, commonly known as apps, are available that can significantly improve the usefulness of your smartphones. 

                Phone apps are software programs designed specifically for phones. Many of them are simplified versions of software that was originally created for computers, designed to be navigated on much smaller screens and without the use of a computer mouse. They can be downloaded via a phone’s Internet connection. Using apps costs little to nothing as many apps are free and most others are relatively inexpensive.

                Here are some of the best business apps for improving your data collection and management efforts.

                • Credit card processor: These handy little apps turn smartphones into pocket-sized credit card terminals. This allows credit card payments to be processed whenever and wherever your people are, such as truck drivers upon delivery of an order. Some of these apps can be used with small card swiping devices that plug into the phone while others require the card information to be entered manually. Some of the most popular credit card swiping apps are Swipe, Square, GoPayment and PAYware Mobile.

                • Business card reader: Have you ever lost a business card someone gave you before you saved their contact information somewhere else? Business card reading apps, such as CamCard, CardMunch and CardCloud, make it easy to quickly add contact information to a digital archive with nothing more than snapping a picture with your phone. Many of them will even transcribe the information on the card, making it easy to search for later.

                • Receipt scanner: Like business card readers, most receipt scanners work by taking pictures of receipts. However, some have the added benefits of creating expense reports and tracking transactions over time. Any company that collects receipts from workers or used expense reports can benefit from these. Some good receipt scanning apps include Expensify, Lemon, MyWallet+ and EasyMoney.

                • Task manager: If you need help keeping track of your to do list, there are many task management apps that can help. Beyond just a list, many of these have the ability to sort tasks by category and priority as well as add notes, due dates and reminders. The most used task management apps include Remember the Milk, Toodledo and Wunderlist.

                • Remote access: These apps are some of the biggest time-savers. They allow you to access your office computer from anywhere using your phone. Whether you need to email an invoice, look at a report or just forgot to shut your computer down, apps such as LogMeIn, GoToMyPC and TeamViewer allow you to navigate your computer from anywhere, saving you trips back to the office.

                • Time tracking: With apps like Toggl, Paymo and ClickTime, users can easily start and stop timers as they begin different tasks, add descriptions of time usage and create reports. They can be used in place of time cards, to track time usage for productivity, or for billing purposes.

                • Existing bookkeeping software: Smartphone apps have become so popular that most software companies have developed them for their existing software. These allow you to access bookkeeping information and reports or add new customer transactions and information even when you are not in the office.

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