Using Apps for Business

Every year for my USA TODAY column, I do an annual Top 10 Trends in Small Business column. This past year, it seemed that Facebook was a shoo-in for the No. 1 spot. After all, The Social Network was one of the top movies of the year, Facebook topped the 500 million user mark and the site was valued at more than $50 billion. Facebook seemed like the obvious winner.

Except it wasn’t. It came in at No. 2 for 2011, actually. What could have topped Facebook as a trend that is changing small business more than any other?

Apps.

Indeed, the only thing hotter and more buzz-worthy than Facebook is the popularity and ubiquity of smartphone apps. People are using apps every day, all day long – not only to have some fun and kill some time (death to pigs by Angry Birds I tell you, death!) – but also to effectively run their businesses.

The smart small business owner can capitalize on this trend in two different ways. First, you can, and should, find and use those apps that make running your business simpler and more profitable. Second, you should strongly consider creating and offering your own app to your customers.

Let’s take a look at both of those options:

The reason it is smart to have the foresight to integrate business and efficiency apps into your work day is because it’s where social media is headed. You are on your smartphone far more than you ever used to be, right? Well, the same is true for your staff, vendors and customers. Mobile devices and smartphones are where the eyeballs are and, as such, it is where you need to be too. It is how people are gathering information these days.

Of course, I can’t tell you which specific apps would work best in your business. There simply are too many available, doing many different things for businesses that it is impossible to say which ones you need and would like. However, you can figure out fairly quickly which ones you should check out by

Doing a Google search
Reading industry magazines, websites and blogs
Getting recommendations from writers and bloggers you like (personally, I enjoy and use recommendations from SmallBizTrends, CNET and SmallBizTechnology)

The important thing is to find apps that fit your business needs and try them out. Undoubtedly you will find some amazing tools out there that will help you run your business more easily, efficiently and effectively.

The second way to take advantage of this trend is by developing an app of your own. Essentially, there are two approaches you can take: pay a developer to create a custom application, or create a mobile version of your website.

The first method – creating a real app – looks like this:

1. Have a good idea: Your app idea should be based on fulfilling an unmet need or desire that exists in the market.

2. Analyze the idea: Who is going to use it? Why would they want it? Will they pay for it?

3. Hire a developer/designer/programmer: Expect to pay roughly $10,000 and expect it to take at least a month for the app to be ready. To help get started on creating an app, check out Craigslist, Guru.com and Elance.

4. Submit your app to the app store(s): Since this is a fairly technical process, this is something your developer should help with.

5. Market your app: Just as you must market your business, you must market your app. Look into creating a press release or announcing it on your website and other company collateral.

Finally, the last option, creating an app version of your website, is easy and cheap.

There are plenty of web-based services you can use to create a simple app that mimics your website, for instance SwebApps. With this type of service, you just point, click, drag and create an app. It’s easy.

Your app could include the following:

Content, blogs, podcasts, etc.
Products from your store — allowing anyone to make purchases through the app
Maps and contact info
YouTube, Facebook and Twitter buttons

Whether you outsource your app development, or create one in-house, offering a mobile application is just one more way to stay in front of your customers.

But whichever approach you choose, it’s probably time to hop on the app bus, Gus.

Comments (7)

  1. Acer C300xmi Battery

    Steve’s greatest creation is likely Apple Inc, not a single product. He created & recreated the company. Start with the why! SteveJobs

    Reply
  2. Ima

    Sweet blog post, refreshing page template, keep up the good work

    Reply
    1. Alex Cronfield (Post author)

      Thank you

      Reply
  3. Generic Viagra

    Soon after examine some of the blogposts within your web page seeing as this morning, i truly like your technique for operating a blog. My partner and i saved as a favorite them to help my favorites web page directory and will also be taking a look at rear in the near future. Pls visit my website far too and then let me know your personal views.

    Reply
  4. viagra comparison cialis generic

    Only integrated this website to make sure you my top picks. I love looking at your personal weblogs plus we imagine you keep these entering!

    Reply
  5. Elijah Breister

    Great blog here! Also your website loads up very fast! What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I wish my web site loaded up as fast as yours lol

    Reply
  6. pharmacy kamagra generic viagra buy

    My husband and i conceptualise any other online marketers should carry this website for example , especially clean and great operator satisfying manner .

    Reply

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.