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4 Android apps to manage your business

Your business is on the grow, you are on the go! How do you manage it all without being tied to the desk? Remember, this is the future we're living in: You have your smartphone or tablet and a bevy of beautiful apps to serve you as you push profitability ever onward. What's even more important is that all of these apps are free! That certainly helps the bottom line. Take a look at our 4 apps that you need to help you manage your business...even better.

(For those that are just dipping their toes in the entrepreneurial water, go through Saikat Basu's, "Bite The Entrepreneurial Bug By Taking 7 Free Online Courses On How To Start A Business". Then gear up with Mark O'Neill's, "Top Technologies For The Travelling Entrepreneur". Then come back here and get your apps!)

There are as many different types of businesses as there are different types of people. Some of these apps might apply directly to your business, some might not. Here's a healthy dose of apps across the business spectrum and where you go from there is up to you! The point is to know that if you have a particular business issue you'd like to be able to deal with on the move, there probably is an Android app that will help you. For our iPhone loving friends, you'll get some great ideas from Joshua Lockhart's, "Can You Run Your Business Purely From Your Smartphone?"

TimePunch Lite - Free

If you've heard it once, you've heard it a million times - time is money. Everybody likes to say that when you're the one paying them, but how many accept that's the fact when you need to get paid? TimePunch Lite and its $2.05 version TimePunch Pro, will help you track your time so you can get paid for what you are owed.

Often tracking your time is just another time suck as it adds so much to the workflow. Not so with easy to use, and intuitive, icons such as the classic red-square stop-button and the green-circle start-button. Add in the ability to also track mileage, create lists, make notes and add audio recordings and it's a comprehensive tool. You can break down your time by client, project, or use tags. You can also attach files or pictures to your time and mileage tracking. Any questions about that gas expense? There's a picture of the receipt!

Yes, the free version is somewhat limited, but give it a go. It may be all that you need. Although, I think you'll find that investing the additional $2.05 is well worth it. I'd recommend this for independent contractors, lawyers, part-time programmers and developers, independent consultants, or any situation where it's only your time that you have to track.

Android App Time tracker, TimePunch Lite on Playboard Project Schedule - Free

Providing the majority of the tools required for project management, Project Schedule Free is an excellent addition to your toolkit. The user interface is very clean and clear. Whatever you want to do - manage projects and resources, or just track task lists - Project Schedule Free has the tools to help you. The app also gives you the ability to manage several projects at once, using Gantt charts and custom calendars.

With additional plug-ins from the same publisher, you can import or export many different files types, like Microsoft Project files, Excel spreadsheets and CSV files. This allows you to keep your project tracking up-to-date across several devices and several projects.

If you need something like this for project management, as well as the ability to track time and costs similar to TimePunch Lite, then this is probably the app for you. Ideal for small groups, say under 10 people, I'd recommend this for a smaller development house, consulting teams, or community projects. To learn more about project management and how you can apply it to your business, check out the answers to the question, "Where can I learn project management online?" in our Q&A section.

Android App Project Schedule Free on Playboard Zoho CRM - Free

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is something that many people do just through their phone contacts or, if you're really old school, a Rolodex. Until recently, really good CRM applications were expensive and could be much more complex than an individual or small business might need. This is where apps like Zoho CRM really fill a need. The application is free AND you can get a free CRM account that will allow for up to 3 users and a surprising amount of features. Tracking leads, updating contacts, creating accounts, and registering tasks, events, and calls are part of this service. You can learn more about Zoho CRM in Craig Darlow's article, "Manage Your Business Information Online with Zoho CRM".

Relationships really do make business more meaningful. Using an app like this can only make your relationships, and your business, grow. If that happens, the other subscription levels at Zoho CRM are also very affordable. I'd recommend this app for the individual salesperson, Realtor, new entrepreneur, or small business in general.

Android App Zoho CRM on Playboard ZenDesk - Free customer service software helps you to respond to your customers' issues quickly, and helps you to keep an eye on recurring problems. Similar to ZohoCRM, the ZenDesk app is free, but the service isn't. But it's as close to free as you can get. For up to 3 users, you can subscribe for $1/user per month. That's affordable for any business. What you get for that $1 a month is a web-based help center that you can brand as your own. Your customers can submit tickets online and know that it is you they are contacting - not some overseas call center. You also get out-of-the-box e-mail integration - so you can work with your customers' emailed questions. Because this is the social age, it also comes with Twitter integration - so your customers can ask questions through Twitter and you can work with them through your ZenDesk app. There are quite a few other features, but these were the three that impressed me the most. For iPhone users, take a good look at Freshdesk and it's app counterpart. Saikat did an indepth review of it in, "Freshdesk: A Refreshing Take On A Help Desk Application For Your Business". Freshdesk can also be used on Android devices.

By giving your customers an immediate way to get in touch with you about a problem, and giving you a way to track those problems, you actually turn issues into opportunities for stellar customer service. That's something any mom-and-pop shop could really benefit from. I recommend this for any small business that wants to be able to have a large business type of response to your customers' needs - building contractors, eBay sellers, even boutique shops.

Android App Zendesk on Playboard - The Takeaway

With your Android phone or tablet, you can present your valued customers with an experience that only Fortune 500 companies could once provide. Being able to meet their needs as a prospective customer, a current customer, and an ongoing customer will dramatically improve your customer acquisition and retention for less than pennies per customer. Maybe these apps aren't perfect for you, but now you know such things exist and at very affordable prices, if not for free.

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