Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How Apps Can Help Any Freelancer Or Small Business Owner Be Productive


Bertel King, Jr.
If you’re running your own small business or making a living as a freelancer, then you already know quite a bit about getting things done on your own. You have to, otherwise everything falls apart. So I’m not about to tell you how to do your job.
But if you want to know how your smartphone or tablet can potentially help you be more productive, you’ve come to right place. Here are five areas where Android and iOS can free up more of your time to focus on your work.

Handling Contracts

You don’t need to go to law school to start your own business or pursue your artistic endeavors, but that doesn’t save you from having to deal with legal contracts. Businesses and clients need to create legally binding agreements about any number of interactions, ranging from how much work will be performed to who has ownership over the finished product.
The Shake app (Android/iOS) can provide templates and examples to help you through the process. It doesn’t replace a lawyer, but it’s better than working from scratch, and it can be more accessible than turning to the web.

Maybe you have a pile of contracts already piled up that you just want to manage better. NetSuxxess (Android/iOS) can help with that, allowing you to take photos of documents, renew arrangements on time, and manage relationships with clients.

Managing Projects

How you manage your projects depends largely on what kinds of projects you need to manage. Some types of work lend themselves to online tools very well, such as running a website or developing software. But there are apps available that can help with more tangible professions as well.
Basecamp (Android/iOS) is one of the most well-known platforms out there for managing work online. Team members can create projects, describe the kind of job that needs to get done, assign tasks to others, and attach documents as needed. With information so accessible, everyone is better able to stay on the same page.

Wrike (Android/iOS) comes to the table with a similar purpose, but it moves things around a bit. Its calendar view may make it easier to follow time-sensitive priorities, and users can turn to in-app chats to keep up with one another. The interface also formats well on tablets.
Trello (Android/iOS) takes a more visual approach to the same premise. You can use it to keep track of what’s being worked on and who’s doing what. Sometimes having the same information presented in a new way can make all the difference.
FreelanceSmallBusiness Trello Screenshot   How Apps Can Help Any Freelancer Or Small Business Owner Be Productive

Tracking Time

Even if you technically work for yourself, sometimes you still find that you have to check in with someone else. Clients can request a detailed reporting of how you’ve spent every moment of “paid” time. If the onus is on you to keep up with this information, these apps can help you do so.
Many of the options here come with obvious sounding names. Timesheet (Android) gives you the ability to track work and produce reports. Time Recording (Android) does the same, also giving you the option to sync to Google Calendar. The Apple App Store has several similar apps, such as TimeSheet (iOS) and TimeTracker (iOS). Hours Tracker (Android/iOS) is available for both platforms, as is another app that’s also called Time Tracker (Android/iOS), which comes will the full weight of the eBillity platform behind it.

If you want a more hands-off approach, there’s Jiffy (Android). It can pair with NFC tags that you apply to notebooks or physical objects. The app will then track time automatically when you tap your phone against the tag and stop once you repeat the process. The company sells its own Jiffy tags, but you can also use NFC tags that you may already have lying around.
FreelanceSmallBusiness Jiffy NFC Tags   How Apps Can Help Any Freelancer Or Small Business Owner Be Productive

Invoicing

Eventually you have to get paid. Before that can happen, you need to send your clients an invoice. You could always sit down at a computer and tinker with templates, but there are numerous apps out there that can help you with the job wherever you are.
The Joist app (Android/iOS) gives you what you need to create easily understood estimates and invoices, send them to clients, and rest easy. With smartphone and tablet apps, along with a desktop-friendly website, you can access it however you like.
If the nature of your work involves performing tasks with regular rates, Street Invoice (Android) can store these for you and get invoices to customers from a single location. You can also get customers to put their signatures down right on your touchscreen.

Invoice2go (Android/iOS) is versatile enough to work on smartphones, tablets, and desktops. It syncs with a cloud account and has an interface that happens to look a bit more modern than many of the other apps on this page.
FreelanceSmallBusiness Invoice2Go Screenshot   How Apps Can Help Any Freelancer Or Small Business Owner Be Productive
Naturally, three are some apps and services that can track your time and handle invoices. FreshBooks (Android/iOS) and Zoho (Android/iOS) are capable of scratching both itches at once.

Receiving Payments

These days, your business isn’t confined to the register at the back of the shop. You can accept payments anywhere you take your phone with a wide variety of apps and devices.
Square has made a name for itself in this area, producing a scanner that you plug into your smartphone or tablet’s earphone jack to accept credit card payments. You can receive the funds and get signatures using the Square Register app (Android/iOS)

PayPal Here (Android/iOS) works the same way. You can receive payments through credit cards and have the funds go straight to your PayPal account. If you already turn to the service to manage your funds, it can make sense to keep everything organized in one place.

What Apps Do You Depend On?

There are no shortage of apps out there to help you get work done, and this is far from a comprehensive list.
Which ones do you already rely on to stay productive each day?
Image Credits: Smartphone Via Shutterstock  Source: www.makeuseof.com

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