Diane Holden
Diane Holden

Diane Holden: Can apps help grow your business?

Guest column by Diane Holden, senior account manager at Xero.

Running a successful business? There’s an app for that. The age of the app is well and truly upon us – entrepreneurs can now automate tasks, organise, remind and manage, enabling them to work smarter, faster and more efficiently.

Hundreds of mobile apps are being designed specifically with the business owner in mind, fitting with the modern lifestyle of flexible and remote working.

If small businesses make strategic use of the right apps, not only will they improve their own productivity and profits – they’ll carve themselves a place in a bright future for the UK’s economy. The best apps combine intuitive yet simple design, with a back-end functionality that can streamline workflow and simplify communication.

There are few things to consider when choosing apps for your business – are they accessible for everyone? Is the on-boarding process simple? Will they be cost effective? If the answer is yes, your business will certainly benefit from the more streamlined processes that business apps can offer.

My top five apps for business growth for a successful new financial year are as follows:

  1. Receipt Bank helpfully converts receipts, invoices and other piles of paper into Xero data, making expenses and outstanding bills easier to manage and account for. It also automates the sometimes tedious task of populating your purchase ledger – a big time saver.
  2. GoCardless is a cheap and simple app for small businesses who want to take their direct debit payments online – an ideal entry-level solution. Real-time notifications of failed or cancelled payments enable swift issue resolution and you can collect payments across Europe through a single integration.
  3. Inbox by Google is a completely fresh take on email management that combines an intuitive user experience with reminders, clever response choices and smart scheduling to help keep you in control of your inbox. It bundles messages together to help keep things organised and you can add your to-dos to your inbox.
  4. Xero Touch mobile accounting app helps keep your cash moving and manage your business while out and about. You can capture expenses on the go and avoid lost receipts when you upload a photo, reconcile your bank transactions wherever and even invoice when you’re still on the job to help you get paid faster.
  5. Float is an online cash management, budgeting and forecasting tool to help you keep on top of cash flow. You can use it to understand financial trends and patterns and identify potential issues to keep you ahead of the game.