Seven Apps to Improve Small Business Productivity
A follow-up story focusing on specific tools to educate small business owners about the digital options available to them.
An explosion in the number of apps to help small businesses thrive means there’s something for everyone – even the most niche businesses.
Xero New Zealand Country Manager Bridget Snelling says: “Some small business owners may feel that their line of work is not suited to apps and cloud-based tools.
“But there are more than 1,000 apps connected to Xero alone, many of which are designed to help specific industries – from accommodation providers, farmers, traders and cafe owners to shopkeepers and professional service providers.”
Snelling says that technology can help small businesses to streamline operations by removing wasted time on administrative tasks.
“Right now, businesses across Aotearoa are spending a huge amount of time on tasks that can be automated or made more efficient using an app,” says Snelling.
“We need to ensure that every hour spent at work is doing something only a human can do, this will unlock huge productivity benefits.”
Digitization benefits small businesses because happier, healthier employees are more productive and more profitable.
“My advice is for a small business to assess the pain points they’re facing and pick one or two to start with and address those that use some kind of technology. Your accountant should be able to help with this.”
An example, she says, is the CIN7 app for stock management.
Instead of a retailer doing a stock count at the end of the day or week to manually calculate inventory levels, CIN7 will manage their inventory throughout the day.
“It gives them a real-time update on how they’re tracking, which means that instead of manual inventory counting, they can spend more time working on their business or with family and friends,” says Snelling.
“The time factor is huge for small businesses, as there is very little differentiation between life and work, and it all blends together. Often when we talk to small businesses, one of the biggest concerns is just how long they spend doing tasks like is not necessarily their passion or why they got into the business in the first place.
“Alleviating pain points through digital tools is a very positive step in the right direction.”
Another example of an app to fix paint spots is in the form of the digital invoicing product Cashflow Plus, a joint initiative between Waddle, from Xero and the Bank of New Zealand. Cashflow Plus gives small businesses access to 80 percent of the value of an invoice while they wait for it to be paid.
While COVID19 has led to major challenges for businesses, says Snelling, it has also pushed New Zealand companies to jump ten years ahead in terms of digital adoption. The remaining small businesses that have held back are probably among the last generation that can survive without digitization.
Research produced by Xero shows three attitudinal barriers held by small business owners who hesitate to switch to using digital tools, says Snelling.
“The first category is people who think it’s going to be too expensive or too confusing to adopt technology.
“The other group thinks what they are doing right now is good enough.
“And then the third group is just paralyzed by choice, there are so many options.”
However, setting up digital tools for a small business need not be a difficult task, says Snelling.
“Small business owners should speak to their accountant or bookkeeper to help them on their digital journey and point them in the right direction.”
Snelling has selected seven apps to demonstrate the diversity of technological support available to a variety of industries.
1. General: Small businesses don’t have to spend time hunting for late payments – with GoCardless, they can automatically collect authorized payments from their customers.
2. Retail: Instead of working overtime to count inventory at the end of the day, tools like CIN7 help small businesses manage their inventory throughout the day, giving them more time to spend with their families.
3. Trade: With great apps like Tradify, tradies have everything they need in one place, including invoices, job scheduling and even timesheets.
4. Hospitality: Waiters can spend more time supporting the front of house with the QuickB2B Order Management System, an app that allows customers to order food over the phone.
5. Professional services: Timely empowers small businesses to deliver great customer experiences through its ability to manage calendars, customers, employees and reporting.
6. Tourism: For busy accommodation providers, Preno helps save admin time and simplifies bookings.
7. Agriculture: Farmers can spend more time in the field and less time in the office with Xero for Farming, which combines Xero and the Figuret application into an agricultural finance technology stack for farmers and their expert teams. to help manage product tracking, budgeting and reporting.
To read the previous article in the series, click here
g. www.xero.com/nz/campaign/xero-for-farming and www.figured.com/en-nz