In the past few years, smartphones have gone from luxuries to near-essentials: According to a recent report, 49 percent of Americans say that their phones operate on smartphone platforms, an increase of 10 percent from the previous year. Chances are, you’ve got one in your pocket right now.
Smartphones are great for catching up on email and playing games while on the go, but your mobile device is also an important tool for keeping your business running smoothly while you’re out of the office. Here are a few must-have apps for entrepreneurs:
Evernote – This app helps you collect all kinds of data—from your own random thoughts to web clippings to photos to audio recordings—and save them to the cloud so that they’re accessible from your mobile device or computer at any time. You can sort your information into different “notebooks” for work and personal collections, start a new note for each project, and tag your notes so that you can find exactly what you want in an instant. It’s also easy to share your notes with colleagues and collaborate on projects. Best of all, it’s free, though a premium version offers a few extra perks. (Available for iOS and Android.)
Signeasy – There’s a lot of paperwork to do when you’re a business owner. When you’re on the go, it can be tough to find a place to print, sign and scan documents—using the document-signing app Signeasy means you don’t have to do any of those things. With the app, you can either take a photo of your signature on paper or create a digital signature on your phone or tablet. Then the app will open any document, let you place your signature image wherever it needs to go and send it back to the requester. The first three documents are free to sign; after that, you can pay as you go or sign up for a subscription. (Available for iOS and Android.)
Dropbox – Your mobile devices don’t have the space to store massive amounts of data, but you still need access to some of your files while you’re out of the office. Rather than haul around a laptop, just upload those documents to Dropbox, a cloud-based file storage tool. Then you can easily access and modify them as needed from any mobile device and send the files to your partners or employees for collaboration or review. Dropbox is free for up to 18GB of data and offers premium pricing for additional storage space and the ability to add multiple users to an account. (Available for iOS and Android.)
Quickoffice – This smartphone and tablet app gives you the power to open and edit Microsoft Office documents, including Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations. It’s powerful enough that you can build an entire PowerPoint presentation on your mobile device and you’ll be able to upload your files to Dropbox or any other cloud-based storage tool. The tool costs $14.99 for smartphone or $19.99 for tablet. (Available for iOS and Android.)
FreshBooks – Cashflow is essential to any small business so it’s crucial to stay on top of your invoicing and expense reports. FreshBooks, a cloud-based billing service, has an easy-to-use mobile app that helps you instantly send invoices to clients and keep track of what’s currently owed. You can also mark any business expenses as you incur the charges and even attach a photo of your receipt. The service is free if you have three clients or less; to manage more clients and gain access to additional features, the service starts at $19.99 a month. (Available for iOS.)