Whether it’s Windows, Excel, PowerPoint or Word, many companies rely on Microsoft software for their business needs. But there are a variety of other apps and products that you may have overlooked. These are some great apps for small business owners and best of all, these are either free or have free versions to try.
Great apps for small business owners
This isn’t your parents’ Outlook. Many say the Outlook mobile app is one of the best apps for small business owners to stay on top of their emails and schedule.
The Outlook app lets you combine many email accounts into one, easy-to-use inbox. This includes Microsoft accounts, Gmail, Yahoo and more. The Focused inbox feature also means you’ll only face your most-important messages. But you can always have access to every message you’ve received.
My favorite part of Outlook is that it also includes your calendar as part of the app experience. This makes knowing your schedule easy and you can also share when you’re available with just a few taps.
Of course, we have to mention MileIQ. MileIQ is a must-have app for anybody who uses a personal vehicle for business reasons. It ensures you’re logging every business mile you’re driving, which means you can get the largest mileage deduction you’re entitled to.
The average MileIQ user deducts or gets reimbursed for $6,900 a year. Those are savings that you can reinvest in your business. More than that, MileIQ users love to talk about the time and mental energy they save by not having to manually track their miles.
Surveys show MileIQ users save about 72 hours a year by not having to manually track their miles. If your billable rate is $50 an hour, a mileage logging app can be worth $3,600 in billable hours per year.
As a small business owner or independent contractor, you often don’t have anybody telling you what to do or how to do it. That also means you need to get organized quickly. Wunderlist is a fantastic way to keep track of your to-do list.
Wunderlist allows you to to create quick to-do lists that sync across many devices. It also includes reminders and due dates to make sure you’re not missing deadlines. The Pro version even allows you to collaborate with coworkers in order to share workloads.
My favorite thing about Wunderlist is that it’s a good way to handle your personal and business to-do lists. It’s capable of handling your work to-do list, as well as your grocery lists in one, nice-looking app.
Office Lens is one of those apps that make you marvel at technology. The Office Lens app essentially turns your phone’s camera into a digital scanner for receipts, business cards, whiteboards and all sorts of important documents.
It’s hard to explain how awesome this is. Just snap a picture of something you want to save, it recognizes the text on the document and then turns that image into a useful file (PDF, Word, PPT). You can then save it into the cloud to make sure you never lose those files.
Skype allows you to make free audio and video calls, as well as message other users. The catch is that the recipient of the call or message has to be a Skype member too.
If you want to use Skype to call landlines or cell phones, it’s relatively cheap. Skype for Business starts at $2.00 per user per month, integrates with Office and lets you create meetings with up to 250 people—even if they’re not on Skype.
I’m not asking you to abandon your landline or your cell phone. At the very least, give Skype a shot because doing a video call with a client or vendor can add a personal touch that pays off.
The best small business owners embrace technology in ways that make their lives easier. One of the easiest ways to do this is to set up a cloud storage drive for your business documents. There are many options for this but consider giving OneDrive a try.
“Cloud storage” has a technical definition but I like to describe it as making all your files accessible through many devices. That means no more worrying about where you saved your invoice. Just save it to your OneDrive and you can get at it anywhere you have an Internet connection. Using cloud storage has the added benefit of providing a backup for your files in case something happens like a fire or if someone steals your computer.
The free version should work for you if you just use OneDrive for certain documents like receipts, invoices, and documentation. If you need to store photos, training videos or want to collaborate on documents, the pricing is pretty reasonable.
These are some of the best apps for small business from Microsoft that I can think of. If you have any other apps you love, let us know in the comments.
MileIQ’s blog does not constitute professional tax advice. You should contact your own tax professional to discuss your situation.