Mashable, which is one of my favorite web sites, recently posted an article on the top 10 mobile apps for entrepreneurs. Surprisingly, I found their list to not be very helpful for two reasons. The first is that many were iPhone only, and I have an Android phone. But more importantly, I just saw their list of apps to have little value to me as an entrepreneur. The apps sounded cool, but few of them were what I would have considered a “must have” or even something that could benefit entrepreneurs in particular.
So I decided to come up with my own list of what I felt were apps that entrepreneurs could benefit from. Since most of my clients are smaller business owners, I focused on that particular niche of entrepreneurship. Many of these apps act as a shell to sites you can access via your phone’s web browser, but sometimes the mobile web experience can be limiting. So here is my list which consists of three apps plus two generic category apps (and I’ll even toss in a bonus). And all of these apps are free to download (some incur fees to use).
This note taking app is for both iOS and Android and is the single most important app (aside from email & calendar) that I have on my phone. I use it to capture ideas, write blog posts, take notes and organize my thoughts. I’ve used to create a drafts of articles while sitting in a waiting room, record ideas for classes while standing in line and since it integrates with my phone’s camera, capture images of things I want to remember or save (I often use it to save images of receipts for business expenses).
The nice thing about Evernote is that you can access the information via your phone, the web, your PC and you can even send an email to your Evernote account and it’ll save it as a note (it’s useful for forwarding emails you want to organize and keep in the cloud). Evernote offers free and paid versions but most people can get by on the free one.
This app allows you to access the files from your PC anywhere as it backs them up to the cloud (an additional benefit – you won’t lose your data). For me, it’s great to be able to get a quick look at course materials or a book I’m working on while I’m on the run. It’s great for me because I’m often asked about a class that I’m offering while I’m out and about and with this app, I can call up the course materials so I can more accurately answer questions.
Whether you want to review your business plan, marketing materials or even just call up your digital motivational music collection, this app is for you. Like Evernote, there is a free and paid version and most people could get by on the free one.
If you’re looking for a low cost way to accept credit cards on the spot, this app is a must have. When you register, they send you a small device that plugs into the headphone jack of your iPhone, Android or Blackberry device that can read credit cards so you can accept credit cards on the spot. Download the app is free as is the card reader that they send you in the mail. The only thing you pay is a small transaction fee when you use it to take a payment and the fees are low compared to other alternatives.
Mobile Banking Apps:
All major banks and even many smaller ones have apps now that allow you to pay bills, check balances and transfer funds. These services are a necessity for today’s busy entrepreneur, especially those that are bootstrapping. Check with your bank before downloading a banking app to ensure that you’re using their official app and not something that will automatically transfer your balance to some hacker’s account.
Social Media Apps:
Not everyone has the time they need to keep up with social media so the mobile versions of Twitter, Facebook and other popular social media services allow you to leverage your idle time to keep current. In addition to updating your own status, it’s important to be able to see what clients, vendors and other business associates are up to, as well as keep up with the updates from the businesses that you follow. The official apps for these services are free but there are some enhanced apps that you can download for a nominal amount. Truthfully, the official apps are often sufficient for most people.
And a Bonus: WordPress:
If your blog or website uses this popular platform then this free app is a must have. You can check your stats such as kits to your site, search engine keywords, links clicked and many other metrics as well as respond to comments and manage your blog or site. I find it great to be able to easily access my blog’s dashboard to check on traffic and make small changes.