Four finance apps to help small businesses succeed
1. Understand your offer and price it correctly
Price and positioning are two of the four P's of marketing, but when it comes to pricing jobs, freelancers often focus on the price the client will find reasonable. The problem is, the jobs they do are often bespoke and the client has no real idea what a reasonable price is either. This scenario can easily lead to under-pricing and with it, positioning your product, service or reputation incorrectly.
The first step to pricing your work appropriately is being able to accurately value it. A client may want to buy a brochure from you, but the key is to know - and be able to communicate - how much time, knowledge, design experience, software acumen and project management goes into producing that brochure. It's not easy, but now there's an app that can really help.
Chrometa is a real revolution in time tracking for freelancers. While there are lots of apps that will let you log time against clients or projects, this is the first app that automates time tracking. Once installed on your computer it will record your software usage. You can then examine daily reports and see how much time you spend on web surfing, Skype, Photoshop, Word, Excel or coding. This makes it a powerful tool for helping you accurately value and price your time while boosting your productivity.
2. Spend time networking to develop new business
The ability to network and generate new business leads is one of the most critical success factors for soloists. Whether you're a wallflower or an extrovert, networking takes significant time and energy. When an event is over we often get back to work, leaving the business cards we collected languishing at the bottom of a bag. After all who needs more admin? Here's an app to make this problem a thing of the past.
Shoeboxed allows you to digitise business cards and auto-share your contact information with your new contacts. You can also use it track and file expense receipts (note: an electronic record is now sufficient for the ATO records required to be kept for seven years). Simply snap pictures of business cards or receipts with your iPhone and Shoeboxed does the rest!
3. Budget for income and expenses
It should go without saying that a budget is crucial for soloists, but many don't have the time, energy or skills to create and review the kind of financial reports used in bigger organisations. That's where our next clever little app comes in.
TrackMySpend is a free, easy-to-use app for iPhone or iPod (an Android version will soon be available) that allows you to track your personal expenses on the go. You will finally have a clear picture of what you are spending. It also enables you to track, classify and separate business and personal expenses.
4. Keep on top on top of cash flow
Keeping the cash flowing from month to month can be a real challenge for soloists. Invoicing often falls to the bottom of the list and chasing late payments means being somewhere where you have access to your financial system. Not anymore. There's now a robot that can do much of the hard work for you.
This app enables you to create invoices, proposals, receipts and quotations better and faster. Get paid sooner by creating and sending PDF documents with the iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch. No more burning the midnight oil to catch up on invoicing. Your accounts receivable department is in now in your pocket!
If you only use your smartphone for voice calls, text, email and surfing the web, maybe it's time to try an app? It could be the secret to your success!
What smartphone apps help you succeed?
This article first appeared on Flying Solo, Australia's solo & micro business community. To read more from Craig Jackson and for small business support and advice, visit www.flyingsolo.com.au