Business_Apps_body.jpgby Jennifer Shaheen.

Every day, hundreds of new apps are released. Many of them sound exciting, but which ones have proven to be truly valuable to the busy small business owner? Here are five apps you can use to accomplish more in less time.

To help you stay informed and organized

Information is power, which is why so many small business owners are voracious consumers of articles and blogs. Managing the flow of information and keeping track of the most valuable content is a daunting task, but it becomes much easier with the right apps.

1. Feedly

"Feedly helps me keep up with all the news in our industry, and actively share information through social media,” says Adam Ware, CEO at SwellPath, a digital marketing agency. Feedly is one of the most popular news aggregators available today and replaces Google Reader. It has highly customizable layouts and a recommendations feature that makes it extremely simple to find more information on subjects of interest to you. According to Ware, “It's a must-have for anyone who likes to scan and read articles from many blogs or publications.”

Feedly works on the iOS and Android Platform.

2. Evernote

Forbes calls Evernote “one of the most essential apps”. Its users can store notes, ideas, lists, and even complete webpages, and then access that data from any of the devices they’ve synced to the app. It’s easy to organize, edit, and share your information.

Chris Murphy, owner of MFX SalonSpa, recommends that business owners use the Evernote Hello feature as an integral part of their recruiting process. “Using Evernote as the central hub for our recruiting has allowed us to be a lot more efficient and provided more clarity around the recruitment process.” During the recruiting process, Murphy uses Evernote to make notes on potential applicants, which his managers can see in real time. “Plus, they can add their comments to all of the notes, so the interview and hiring process is really collaborative.”

Evernote works on the iOS, Windows phone and Android platforms.


To let you do business anywhere

With the right technology, we’re free to live, work, and do business anywhere we’d like. This app enables the entrepreneur to do exactly that, by erasing the need for an on-site staff.

3. Basecamp

This project management app has proven to be essential in working with an almost-entirely remote staff. “We use Basecamp from 37 Signals to coordinate with our editors, proofers, and book scheduling,” says Lorna Hinson, publisher at Torquere Press in New Mexico. “We love that it can host files, message boards, calendars, chats and more. We use it on the web, but it has also recently revamped its iPhone and iPad usage to be fully featured.”

Basecamp has an iPhone app and mobile websites optimized for smartphones running the Android or Windows phone operating system.

To help you connect

Running a business means a lot of time interacting with people, both in person and over social media. The smart use of technology minimizes the amount of time devoted to the administrative end of networking so you can focus on building meaningful connections.

4. Hootsuite

“My favorite app is Hootsuite Mobile,” says Tristan Bishop, senior director of social marketing at Informatica. “It allows me to manage multiple social media networks and accounts, on the go, from a single mobile app.” In other words, if your business has a Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest account, you can monitor and manage all those accounts from a single dashboard. It’s a free, fast, and simple way to streamline social media.

Hootsuite Mobile runs on iOS, Android, Blackberry, and Windows phone.

5. Cardmunch

Cardmunch is an app developed by LinkedIn. Here’s how it works: You go to a trade show, convention, or networking event. You come away afterward with dozens of business cards in your pocket. Use your iPhone to snap a picture, and Cardmunch instantly uploads the data from the card into your LinkedIn network. It’s reliable and super simple: more than two million cards have officially been “munched”, according to LinkedIn’s blog.

Cardmunch is currently available for the iPhone, but versions for Blackberry and Android are said to be coming soon.