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7 Apps to Organize Your Small Business

By midnight on December 31st I had proudly mastered the art of mojito-making, but during the next morning’s brunch with friends I was challenged to improve my organizational skills for the new year.

Apparently, my scatterbrained process of gathering ingredients and forgetting where I keep stuff in my kitchen was more noticeable than I thought.

Resolving to become more organized for 2015 got me thinking about the small business owners I often chat with at Method. I hear of similar struggles when they recall their business prior to Method:CRM, and they all relate back to disorganization – missing information, wasted time, the fear of customers slipping through the cracks – you get the idea.

I thought I would share apps we Methoders use to stay organized everyday – Method is a small business too, after all! So, to start the year off on the right foot, I give you…

1. IFTT (If This Then That)

My coworker introduced me to this application when we were at QuickBooks Connect and I have been obsessed with it ever since. I wanted to connect Method’s Instagram account to our Twitter account (some may call this laziness, I call it consistent efficiency). So I created a recipe through IFTT – an app where you set up rules (“recipes”) based on changes that happen within other apps. In this case, I created a recipe that goes like this:

IF I post to the Method Instagram account, THEN tweet out the same image and text from our Twitter account

With IFTT you can:

– create rules (“recipes”) that are triggered when actions are taken within various apps (if this happens, then I want that to happen)

– streamline your social activity or get text messages when something specific happens with one of your accounts

2. SmartVault

If you’re moving towards a paperless (or even just a paper-less) operation, having a secure document storage application on your side will help your team make strides. There are many great cloud storage services out there, but for a truly organized operation, your business applications need to be connected. SmartVault is a great file storage and sharing service that integrates with Method:CRM and QuickBooks!

With SmartVault you can:

– access files from anywhere with best-in-class security and productivity features

– share documents with your accountant securely and be audit ready

– scan, attach and locate documents through your Method and QuickBooks databases

3. Gmail

Recently, I’ve been reading articles on decreasing the use of email to increase productivity, but there’s no question – email remains a business’ primary form of communication. And for me, this is no different – I don’t even have a phone or an extension!  There are many reasons why I’m a fan of Gmail, such as customizing how my inbox is set up. But more importantly, I love how easy it is for me to document communication activities in Method:CRM right from Gmail whenever I email a customer. Next to QuickBooks, I would say our Google Gadget is our customer’s second-most loved Method integration.

With Gmail you can:

– customize your inbox with Gmail Labs and create your own keyboard shortcuts

– use ‘labels’ (tags) instead of traditional folders for more flexible email organization
– input customer, partner, or vendor interactions into Method:CRM directly from your Gmail inbox [watch the video here]

4. Pocket

Some of you may recognize this app from a blog post I previously did on apps to help organize your personal life, but I’m mentioning it again because I also use this at work.  If you’re doing research, searching for inspiration, or just happen to stumble upon something online you’d like to save for later, Pocket is very helpful!  Like Gmail, you use a tagging system to organize online content you’re interested in reviewing later. Let’s say you’re reading a blog post but don’t have time to finish the post: save it to Pocket where you can even read it offline.

With Pocket you can:

– take anything you find online and store it in an organized way to view later

– organize everything you put in Pocket through tags such as “read later”

– save directly from your browser or from the 500+ apps that Pocket integrates with

5. Google Docs

Google Docs is like coffee for me – I can honestly say I can’t imagine my life without it. My team creates and collaborates in Google Docs everyday, increasing productivity and organization. I think back to previous companies I’ve worked at where documents would be shared and collaborated on by sending everything through email, and I shudder.

With Google Docs you can:

– create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations compatible with Microsoft Office file formats

– collaborate with other users in real time where everything is automatically saved

– provide edit suggestions within a document and add comments for how a piece can be improved

6. QuickBooks

We couldn’t talk about getting your small business organized without mentioning QuickBooks – the best accounting software for small business EVER! (Okay, our QuickBooks sync engine makes me a little biased). If you’re going to get your small business organized this year and haven’t adopted accounting software, QuickBooks is where to start. Repeat after me: “I will not manage my business finances in a spreadsheet in 2015”.

(And if you love QuickBooks for your business check out Mint – also by Intuit – for your personal finances! It keeps my shoe shopping in check.)

With QuickBooks you can:

– automatically pull transaction in from bank accounts and credit cards for fast and accurate data

– invite your accountant to securely collaborate within your QuickBooks file

7. Method:CRM

Methoders speak with numerous customers everyday, so we practice what we preach (and sell!) by using Method:CRM to manage our customer relationships and keep the internal team organized. The team documents all customer interactions within Method to ensure all our team members have timely and organized details on every customer we serve. This way, we can provide excellent customer service and don’t waste time in an email and sticky-note paper trail.

With Method:CRM you can:

– track all interactions in a central database so everyone is in the know for every customer

– schedule follow-ups and assign tasks to other staff

– create and track customer service tickets (“cases”) or allow customers to create and track their own through a Customer Portal.

What are some of the applications helping to organize your small business? I would love to hear about the tools and techniques that keep you organized at work, so feel free to leave a comment below or tweet me.

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