Top 10 iOS Apps for Small Businesses - Page 2

By James A. Martin
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6. Database: Bento 4 for iPad

Attention really small businesses: There's a database app for you, too. It's called Bento 4 for iPad. It's only $10; most database programs cost a lot more. And it's self-sufficient, meaning you don't need a desktop database counterpart to get full advantage of the iPad app.

Bento 4 for iPad comes with lots of easy-to-use database templates to get you started right away. If those aren't enough, there are plenty of free templates you can download from the online Bento template exchange.

Similar to Things, the Bento iPad app is a separate purchase from the iPhone/iPod touch app ($5) and the Mac program ($49). Also, like the previous versions of Things, you must sync Bento files between devices over a shared Wi-Fi network. That's unfortunate. But given how few good database programs are available at such a low cost, that drawback isn't enough to make me look elsewhere.

7. Social Media Dashboard: HootSuite for Twitter

Most small businesses have multiple social media accounts -- Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn being the usual suspects. If you fit that description, download the free HootSuite for Twitter app. Despite its name, the app (as well as the HootSuite website) makes it beautifully easy to simultaneously post to multiple social media channels; schedule posts for a later date (such as when you're on vacation); retweet and comment on other posts; and lots more.

The basic HootSuite service is free and serves my needs nicely. However, the $10 monthly Pro plan may be worth considering. It lets you monitor and post from an unlimited number of social media profiles (the free plan limits you to five) and integrate Google Analytics and Facebook Insights, among other features.

8. Signing PDF Documents: SignEasy

It never fails: While I'm on a trip, someone will need my signature on a document -- immediately. For these purposes, I keep a scanned image of my signature on my laptop. But since I bought an iPad, I don't always travel with my laptop.

Fortunately, there are countless apps that make it possible to sign PDFs and other documents using your finger on an iOS device touch screen. I've used and can recommend SignEasy, a free iPhone and iPad app. The app makes it simple to open documents from email or other sources, draw a signature, add a signing date, and then save the signed document.

Unfortunately, you'll need to upgrade (for $10) to a premium SignEasy account to sign unlimited documents, send them to your Dropbox account, and more. But for signing the occasional document on the road, SignEasy lives up to its name.

9. Time Tracking: Toggl Timer

I have a number of clients for whom I charge an hourly rate. But even for flat-rate projects, I track my time because I always want to know what I'm earning per hour. You've got plenty of time-tracking apps and services to choose from, but the one I like is Toggl and its iOS app, Toggl Timer (both are free).

Toggl is a Web-based service with a clock timer that makes it easy to track hours by project and client. The timer is available as a Windows, Mac, and Linux software utility as well as an iOS and Android app. Your data is synced across all your Toggl apps automatically. To generate reports of where your time went, however, you'll need to log into Toggl using your Web browser.

The basic Toggl plan is free, and it's all I require. But for $5 a month, you can also import time-tracking data into Basecamp, QuickBooks, and FreshBooks, among other features.

10. Organizing App: Springpad

There are lots of Evernote and OmniFocus fans out there, and both are terrific apps. But Springpad is my preferred app for jotting text notes, recording audio reminders, taking photos for informational purposes, and putting them all together in one easy-to-use app.

Springpad automatically syncs your stuff across its iOS and Android apps and the Springpad website. You can collaborate with colleagues on your Springpad project-related notebooks or share your clippings on Facebook. Springpad also auto-fills information, which can be helpful. Start typing the name of a movie you want to see, for instance, and Springpad fills out your note with information about the film.

The interface takes getting used to. But once you get the feel for it, you'll be capturing stuff left and right for use later -- a great way to help out your overtaxed brain.

James A. Martin is a marketing consultant specializing in SEO, social media, mobile apps, and business blogging. Follow him on Twitter.

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This article was originally published on September 17, 2012
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