I love your new column. It’s interesting, informative, and well-written and I look forward to reading it every week.
I’m a small business owner and I’m just so overwhelmed by the number of programs/applications available for small business owners. I’m currently using WhatsApp for communication with my employees and Excel files for organization. As we grow, though, these tools just don’t seem effective anymore.
Are there any specific business apps you would recommend? I don’t want to be inundated with apps on my phone, so I prefer apps that have multiple functions.
Confused by the Options
Dear Confused by the Options,
Thank you for your kind words.
There are so many industry-specific applications that are useful for small business owners like yourself! For example, Jira is a tracking and project management tool used by software developers, and InVision is a prototyping tool used by designers to create and receive feedback on mock-ups.
Both Jira and InVision can be helpful for any business owner, but they were developed to address the needs of business owners in specific industries. You don’t mention which industry you’re in, so I will highlight a few business applications that can be beneficial for small business owners across the board.
Slack: You can think of Slack as a sophisticated messaging app. How does it work? Conversations take place in channels. You can create as many channels as you’d like, and they can be organized around anything.
For example, you might name one channel #Project-X, another #Project-Y, and yet another #General or #Random. Users can participate in conversations and send attachments, and conversations are easily searchable. Users also have the option of direct messaging. Want to create a private channel for only specific team members? You can do that on Slack, too!
The basic version of Slack is free, although many companies opt to upgrade to one of Slack’s premium packages. Slack is cloud-based.
Trello: Trello is a task management app designed to help you and your team organize a project from beginning to end. How does it work? Trello is composed of boards, lists, and cards. A board is simply another word for a project. A list divides the tasks needed to complete a project in different categories, usually by stage (“to do,” “in progress,” “for review,” “done”). Cards are specific elements of the project, such as new features or ideas.
Cards can have as much or as little information as you’d like. For example, you can assign tasks to team members and begin conversations. You can also add attachments, checklists, colored labels, deadlines, and, of course, comments. Once a card is completed, anyone with access to the card can move it to the correct category.
The basic version of Trello is free, although you can purchase its premium versions at a monthly cost.
Slack and Trello can both be integrated with other apps.
Zoom: Zoom is a great videoconferencing app for internal and external meetings. Users can choose to participate via video or audio. Zoom also allows users to screen share so a potential client in Brazil, your business associate in New Zealand, and your team at home are looking at and discussing the same screen. Sessions can be recorded at your convenience. Participants can also upload attachments.
Zoom is cloud-based, and the basic version is free. Zoom offers three additional plans, with more sophisticated features, at a monthly cost.
Slack, Trello, and Zoom are only a few of the many applications available to small business owners. The beauty of these apps is that they can be equally beneficial for a team of florists at a flower shop and a team of doctors in a medical office. While these apps have premium additions, the basic versions are usually enough for small- to mid-sized businesses.
I wish you much success and growth in your business!