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Your business toolkit: essential apps to master in 2016

When you own a small business, nothing is more important than working efficiently. We’ve found some of the best tools to help you increase productivity and profits this year.

1. Social media

Social media should be at the heart of every small business marketing plan. The trick to making it work for your business is management, and there are a number of social media management tools that promise to make your marketing time more effective. Some are expensive to register, some can be tricky to use and others are free. Yes: free.

Buffer: Providing great value for money, this app allows you to schedule and cross-post social media content across Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Look out for the great RSS feed tool. The site also features the Buffer blog, an excellent source of in-depth information on social media and productivity.

Mention: Keeping an eye on the online profiles of your business and its competitors is crucial. Mention is simple to set up and sends you real-time alerts when one of your keywords is mentioned – plus you can respond to potential clients within the app.

2. Analytics

If checking your web analytics is not already an essential part of your daily routine, grab these tools and make a resolution to get to grips with your user data in 2016.

Google Analytics: Not only an incredible tool, it’s also free. And because it’s a Google product, you’ll find all the help you need online. Make it part of your daily dashboard.

Crazy Egg: Will show you a ‘heatmap’ so you can see where users are spending time on your site. It’s a powerful way to get an idea of whether or not your site is working to convert visitors.

3. Productivity aids

Time management is often a battle for small businesses, where everyone involved wears many different hats. Luckily, there are small adjustments you can make to get more from your day and maintain a balanced lifestyle.

Pomodoro Technique: In discussions around productivity, one technique comes up time and time again – and it’s beautifully simple.

Unroll.Me: If your inbox is overflowing, it’s hard to get to the good stuff. Rather than the time-consuming process of unsubscribing from – let’s face it – possibly hundreds of mailing lists, Unroll.Me will help you auto-unsubscribe and bundle any remaining newsletters into one daily bulletin.

4. HR and management

When it’s time for your business to grow, finding and retaining the most suitable employees is key. Smooth, user-friendly internal systems means a more enjoyable work week for everyone.

LinkedIn: Is an incredibly powerful tool within the HR world as you can read through summaries and find people with the skills you’re looking for. Internally, it also gives your business a presence, so ensure the profiles of everyone associated with your company are up to date.

Harvest: A soon-to-be-essential app, Harvest makes logging time straightforward, giving you efficient control over your team’s workflow.

5. Software-as-a-service (SaaS)

We’re currently seeing an explosion in the availability of SaaS applications. The ability to access the software you need on demand means more efficiency and less downtime. But unlike traditional software, which is paid for once with the odd upgrade, SaaS is usually charged on a subscription basis. Carefully evaluate each piece of software before committing to the ongoing cost.

Xero: While the notion may sound somewhat incredible, Xero is online accounting software that’s a pleasure to use. Offering easy integration with your bank accounts and simple invoice management, your bookkeeping can become a much simpler task.

Vend: A POS system that even works on iPads, Vend is a startup success story that’s doing great things for small businesses around the world. It’s incredibly useful and integrates beautifully with Xero.

About the author:

Photo: David Broadway

Raeleen Hooper is a well respected women in business. As general manager for the Snap Franchise Group and as part of the executive team, she  is working to transform the business from instant print outlets to becoming the leading brand in print, design and websites. 

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Raeleen Hooper

Raeleen Hooper

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