Our Favorite Biz Apps, Summer Edition

Summer is here and the time is right for another Technoverse list of our favorite business apps.

Our files are stuffed with notes from the last few months of attending trade shows and meetups, quizzing CEOs, and testing software in our state-of-the-art lab. The focus of this list, as in our past enumerations, is on small-to-medium businesses.

The distribution of employers in the US is skewed towards small: most businesses—something like 98% — are considered small, with roughly under 25 employees. Even more astonishing: they hire 50% of the US workforce.

But unlike in the past, the cost of starting and running a small business doesn’t necessarily require emptying a bank account.

We have computing to thank for this, everything from cheap biz apps in the cloud, low-cost communications and collaboration, inexpensive social media marketing, the ability to crowdsource certain tasks, and on and on.

Herewith are a few apps that should help you kickstart and manage your business:

Taap.it — While the emphasis with this app is on peer-to-peer selling, taap.it can also be used by small retailers to place items in a virtual shelf. Merchants simply take a picture of products using their iPhone app.  Potential customers  can then search for goods (and services) using a simple distance metric and keyword. Great for local businesses.

OnePager — OnePager makes creating a viable one page web site as simple as filling out an invoice.  This NYC-based company has a completely accessible interface for creating background images, adding business hours and contact numbers, and attaching PDF for menus or product information.  100% cloud-based. 14-day free trial and then $10/month.

invoiceASAP — Small business especially in construction, landscaping, pool services, and really any job that requires a sales agent out in the field will want this invoice-in-the-cloud app. Working on either an iPhone or iPad, invoiceASAP delivers pricing information to your field staff and lets them generate quick estimates or bills (with photo attachments) that are delivered by email.  Interfaces with QuickBooks and other accounting systems.

onSIP — Still our favorite virtual PBX for small businesses. No need to buy a small key system or micro PBX with OnSIP. For under $30/month you get extension dialing and an outside line, along with auto-attendant and voice mail. Supports the SIP standard, which means you have your choice of VoIP-based softphones for your laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Great for a business with a remote staff.

Shoutomatic — Why not add a little dash of audio to you mostly text- and picture-based marketing? Shoutomatic lets you interact through audio tweets to your customers, who can respond with their own audio messages back to you. Shoutomatic also lets you tap into their celebrity shouters, who can, for a fee, craft a message for your brand. Choose from Andy Dick, Playboy’s Laura Croft, and Dennis Rodman.

Betterfly —  Marketing a local personal services business as a piano teacher, hair stylist writing instructor, tutor, or housekeeper has usually meant going door-to-door dropping off cards or leaving a flyer on a bulletin board. Betterfly helps these typically solo businesses find their market through their on-line listings. Customers search for a Betterfly instructor or Betterist, and then make a booking through their system. Betterfly takes a 5% fee when a transaction is completed.

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