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Six time & money saving digital tools for small businesses

Time and money are two things that many small-business owners don’t have a lot of. Budgets will only stretch so far and there are only so many hours in a working day. However, a wide range of digital tools - from time-management apps to organisational ones - are now available and some might enable you to save time and money. Here are just some examples…

1. Any.Do

What is it? A life-management and productivity app with 15m users, Any.Do is marketed as “the ultimate app for getting things done”.

Why use it? Available for iPhone, Android and desktop, Any.do can be used to “keep your tasks, lists and reminders in one place, always in-sync across all your devices”, while planning your “day, week, month and life”.

You can upload files, take notes or remind yourself of key daily tasks, so you remain organised and use your time more efficiently. You can also share lists and assign tasks (Any.Do works with Google Calendar, Exchange, iCloud, etc). Any.Do’s Assistant feature can “take care of your tasks for you, so you can focus on the things that matter”. You can register for a free trial, sign up for free use or pay for Premium features.

2. SweetProcess

What is it? A web-based digital tool for documenting your business’s standard operating processes and procedures.

Why use it? SweetProcess could enable you to “get those repetitive tasks out of your head and documented, so you’re not stuck doing everything yourself, forever,” say its creators. And “whether you manage a team or you’re hiring your first employee, SweetProcess gives you the systemisation you need to scale and grow your business.” Using SweetProcess could mean significantly more of your time is freed up, because others in your business will more easily be able to understand how to do things your way. And with your processes fully systemised, you’ll also be able to track when critical tasks are completed by others – wherever you are. Its creators also say that process mistakes are less likely and business owners may even be able to reduce their staff training costs. A 14-day free trial is available, with a monthly fee payable if you like what you get.

3. Evernote

What is it? A cross-platform app designed for taking, organizing and archiving notes.

Why use it? Evernote is intended to help you save time and be more productive by working smarter. It enables you to “capture, organise and share notes from anywhere”. A note can be formatted text, a webpage or excerpt, photograph, voice memo or handwritten note, while you can also attach files. You can create notebooks from your notes, which can tagged, annotated, edited, commented on, searched and exported. According to its creators, Evernote allows you to: “Organise your work and de-clutter your life. Collect everything that matters in one place and find it when you need it – fast.” Evernote Business (£10 per user per month although a free trial is available) can function as a productivity and ideas-sharing hub for small-business teams.

4. IFTTT

What is it? A free web-based workflow management app that enables users to create chains of simple conditional statements (“applets”), which are triggered by changes that occur within other web-based services such as Gmail, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.

Why use it? Many reasons, for example, you may want your Instagram posts to automatically post on Pinterest or you may want an automatic notification when it is the birthday of a staff member or key customer. You might want to automatically send an email people who comment on your blogs.

Basically, IFTTT [If This Then That] can save you time and money, while making your life easier, because it can automate everything from your favourite apps and websites to app-enabled accessories and smart devices.

5. Slack

What is it? A team communication platform and collaboration app.

Why use it? It can enable small-business teams (as well as customers and suppliers if you like) to work together more efficiently, saving time and cost, because it cuts down on the need for meeting-associated travel time and cost.

Chat channels for any subject can quickly be created and relevant team members and others can be invited to those channels. According to its creators: “When your team needs to kick off a project, hire a new employee, deploy some code, review a sales contract, finalise next year’s budget, measure an A/B test, plan your next office opening, and more, Slack has you covered.” You can try Slack for free or pay (£6.30-£11.70 per month per active user) for greater functionality.

6. Hubspot CRM

What is it? A free customer-relationship-management app/platform.

Why use it? According to its creators: “HubSpot CRM is everything you need to organise, track and nurture your leads and customers.” You’re also able to “Get deeper insights on every lead and monitor deals with ease. And it’s free. Forever.” Hubspot CRM is highly customisable and easy to use.

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