As a small business owner, time is everything and budgets are no doubt always tight. Your smartphone or tablet is probably at your side 24 hours a day, which is why apps are becoming one of an entrepreneur’s best time and money saving tools. As with anything, the key is whether it works well and is not just a download that gathers dust on your home screen between the weather and Angry Birds apps!
We’ve rounded up some of the most popular apps for the South African entrepreneur:
Xero.com claims they can make small business accounting easier and “fun”. You can see your real time cash flow, do invoicing and estimates, handle expenses, do pay runs and much more.
Cost: 30-day free trial then $30/month (approximately R380/month) to send unlimited estimates and invoices.
Wave has many big companies on their books but they specifically target businesses with 9 employees or less, offering secure “accountant-approved” accounting tools. Create estimates and invoices, run reports, link bank accounts and track your transactions. You can also take photos of receipts and track them in your expenses.
Cost: It’s 100% free.
If you travel a lot for business, TripIt will be an absolute lifesaver. The app lets you consolidate all your travel plans into a single master itinerary – regardless of what website you used to purchase your ticket. You can check departure times, directions to the airport and even weather reports. The app will notify you about any delays.
Cost: The basic app is free, but there is also a TripIt Pro version for $49 (R622) a year and a TripIt for Teams version for $29 (R348) a month (for up to 10 users).
TripLog is one of the most popular apps that help you track your mileage for SARS purposes. It automatically tracks mileage with MagicTrip™, or Auto Start when your phone is connected to Power or Bluetooth.
Cost: Free for 1 user with 5 cars, then from $10 (R127) a year.
Ever wished you had one place to save all the useful advice and ideas you are bombarded with every day? You might see a great billboard on the road or hear a great interview on the radio. Evernote is like a journal, allowing you to collect and store audio and video clips, photos, files and notes in the cloud. You can share this with your employees and everyone can add their own notes in a central place.
Cost: The basic app is free; subscriptions to Evernote Premium are $5 (R63) per month.
Frustrated with a desk piled high with receipts? Expensify lets you take a photo of any slip of paper with your smartphone, then assign it to a trip, category or client and save it. You can also link your credit/debit card to your Expensify account so that charges are directly placed on an expense report. The app works on all phones, including iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone and on all desktops.
Cost: $5 (R63) per user per month.
Mailchimp is one of the most popular tools for e-mail marketing, helping you to easily create newsletters to send to your customers.
Cost: It’s free (with the Mailchimp branding on your e-mails) if you have less than 2000 subscribers and send up to 12,000 emails per month. If you want to personalise your mails, send more or enjoy reporting tools such as how many people opened your email, then upgrade to a monthly or pay-as-you-go plan.
If you manage your own social media, Hootsuite is a great choice for scheduling posts in advance and having a dashboard of all accounts (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) in one place.
Cost: The app is free; small-business plans start at $9.99 (R127) per month.
iKhokha is both an app and a great South African-made mobile Point of Sale (mPOS) system. When you join iKhokha as a merchant, you will get The Edge – a small compact card reader that plugs into your Apple or Android smartphone. Customers swipe their debit or credit cards to buy, input their PIN safely and pay for your product right there on the spot. As a merchant you can also sell airtime.
Cost: There are once-off fees to buy and active the reader; then fees for monthly rental and commission – read more here[JvA9] .
There are many mobile payment systems around (FlickPay, Zapper, VCPay and Geopayments to name but a few), where a customer takes a photo of a QR code to pay instead of having to pay in cash. With Snapscan – powered by Standard Bank – a merchant can be up and running in just a few minutes. SnapScan can be used with any MasterCard and VISA credit or cheque card, as well as selected debit cards. It allows customers to pay for goods and services via their mobile phones by simply taking a photo of your Snapscan QR code or punching in the amount they need to pay. They are then notified either via SMS or their PoS system that the transaction was successful.
Cost: Free to download and use.