For any task you must take on in your business, there’s an app for it.
There isn’t a single activity in your business that is not being addressed with a relevant business app. While many of us still have the misguided perception that technology is too hard to learn, the cloud has also changed this dynamic.
“The minimal entry point for every small business owner, whatever industry you're in, is to have four to six basic tools.,” says Bill Furlong, founder, and CEO of SquareStack and author of “Appify Your Business.”
There are hundreds of stories about how small businesses used simple apps to explode their business growth.
“Innovation doesn’t have to come in the form of new services or products, or a new way to hire and nurture employees,” Furlong says. “Of course, it can, but if you really want to prioritize innovation, start by appifying your business. This involves investing in foundational systems that will make your business hum. This is innovation that is tangible, measurable, and scalable. And although it’s not glamorous work and is, no doubt, outside your comfort zone, it will pay off in spades.”
Within each general department of your business, you’ll find a level of specialization that continues to proliferate. For instance, just in financial services alone, there are a few dozen subcategories of apps such as expense management, cash flow, invoicing, and loan management.
Also, realize that technology is a primary reason that Fortune 500 companies are leading the way, and, in many cases, crushing the small business ecosystem. Witness what has happened to Main Street in the last few decades. Here, the reasons include the ability of larger companies like Walmart and Amazon to scale and grow on the backs of Main Street. In the process, you can bet the cloud empowered their success.
“Today, the cloud is another fundamental asset of your business,” Furlong says. “Now that your vendors, customers, and millennial employees are well-entrenched in using smartphones and countless business apps as a routine part of their workday, you have no choice but to do so yourself.”
He says the big question is how to adjust to having that combination of multiple apps, software, and digitally based solutions, which he describes as your “AppStack.”
“It’s the single most important operational platform needed to create and run a successful business,” he says.
Now that your vendors, customers, and millennial employees are well-entrenched in using smartphones and countless business apps as a routine part of their workday, you have no choice but to do so yourself.
Innovative developers are seeing opportunity in the challenges of specific business problems. They’re creating new apps to solve the variety of market problems that are constantly emerging.
“Your goal in this world of appification is to figure out what you actually need and who is producing the best solutions to meet those needs,” Furlong says.
When you’re looking at business apps, think about your entire enterprise, not just one silo or function. Here are the some of the major categories where business apps deliver on their promise to make your work more efficient:
- Business intelligence and analytics
- Customer relationship management
- Financial services
- Human resources
- Inventory control
- Industry utility (salon, auto, grocery)
- Operations and infrastructure
- Productivity and project management
- Recruiting and outsourcing
- Social media management
It is easy to be overwhelmed trying to sort out all the different passwords and usernames from the different apps.
GreenApps, a platform for landscape professionals developed in partnership between SquareStack and Green Industry Pros, will hold your set of apps, which, once combined in an integrated group, will help you perform your daily, monthly, and yearly business tasks in as few steps as possible.
“You’re already invested in software. You may not know how much you’re paying a month, but you are committed to software systems,” Furlong says. “That sort of recognition and acknowledgement that I am already invested, whether it's a few $100 a month to $1,000 a month, this is a significant investment you’re already making in your small business. “The idea to use GreenApps to really understand that investment, that additional cost (only $10 per month) to make to make all of that other software work, is a no brainer.”
He says as a small business, if you choose, you can benefit by making a personal commitment to replicate in your business the toolkit that will let you grow like the big companies.
“All those other commitments you make to be the best mean nothing if you don’t have the chops to build and scale your AppStack,” Furlong says.
For landscaper professionals, GreenApps, which Furlong describes as being agnostic, provides that tool. “You're able to connect any and all different apps you use, no matter who the vendor is into one place,” he says.
As a small business owner himself, Furlong says one of the most painful jobs is moving from one software to another. Available tolls to move vendors from one platform to another can be costly.
“The agnostic nature of being able to connect any apps in one place is our major value proposition,” he says. “We’re going to be this educational reference platform for all tools that are being presented to the landscape small business community and GreenApps will be that conduit to all of that relevant information,” Furlong says.