Top 18 Tips for Using an iPad in Small Business
Back in 2011, I needed to replace one of my older laptops. Instead, I bought an Apple iPad, an iPad case and a Bluetooth Keyboard. So far, I do NOT miss the laptop…and at this time, do NOT plan on buying another one again!
I’ve researched and tested over 100 iPad Apps so far. The following are my favorite Apps that help me get my job done in 18 key areas of our Small Business. Please don’t get overwhelmed by all the application (app) options. Start with a few apps that you need every day and then add the others over time. You’re in for a real treat. Using an ipad is like no other PC, Mac or Laptop you have ever used. The iPad is much easier to use and a lot more fun.
1. Office Apps – You have 3 Top App options if you use Microsoft Office (MS Office) in your business. “QuickOffice Pro HD” App (Free and Purchased by Google) or the “Documents to Go Premium” App (approximately $16). You can create and edit MS Office Documents on the iPad (There are always rumors that Microsoft is working on an iPad version of their Office Apps). Bonus: If you love Microsoft Office, you should check out a cloud service called Onlive Desktop that provides Microsoft Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint Apps right on the new iPad.
We replaced MS Office with Google Office Apps from Microsoft Office / Exchange several years ago and never looked back. Google Office (and Zoho Office) can work in the main iPad “Safari Browser.” No other Apps are needed.
iWork is the Apple version of Microsoft Office. The iPad Apps include Numbers, Pages & Keynote Presentations. Once you learn how the Apps work, the user interface is much faster and more fun to use on the iPad. As of November 2013, all Apple Office Products are Free when you purchase a new iPhone or iPad mobile device…. and the Apple Apps have been redesigned to seamlessly integrate with Apple Laptop and Desktops.
2. Reporting – Financials, Expense, Forecasts - You can use Apple “Numbers” App (which is similar to Microsoft Excel) for analysis and reporting or one of the Apps mentioned in the last section. In addition, all the office apps mentioned above, can be used for financial analysis and reporting. Another excellent iPad App for Reporting is the Roambi Analytics Visualizer App.
Expense Reporting and getting Paid for expenses are always a challenge in a Small Business. If you need to improve your expense reporting & get paid faster, check out Expensify. It is a Cloud-based App with wireless iPhone, iPad and Android Apps that sync with the main system. The 1st two users are free.
3. eMail and Calendar – The Apple iPad comes with really nice and easy-to-use eMail, Calendar and Contact (Phone Book) Apps. They all can Sync with your existing Company Apps or you can switch over to Apple eMail and Calendar Apps that sync with iCloud. Click for more info on all the Free built-in iPad Apps.
4. Meetings Notes – We attend and run lots of Meetings… Don’t you?
We use the EverNote App to take Notes, Store, Sync, Organize and Share with others. You can type notes, record audio, snap a meeting photo, slide-deck photo, or copy a website article into Evernote. Evernote instantly syncs all your notes to your Smartphone, Tablet, PC or Mac without you doing anything. This is really a great time savings app. Cost: Free for Basic Service, $45/yr/user for unlimited storage and a Business version for $10 per user per month.
5. Presentations – We make lots of presentations. You can use the Apple Keynote App or the Google Presentation App to create, edit and present. We use Apple’s KeyNote App to create & deliver stunning presentations. You can use “QuickOffice” App (by Google) or the “Docs to Go” App to edit and update Microsoft MS Powerpoint Slide-Decks.
6. Web-Based Seminars, Demos and Meetings - We use the “GotoMeeting” App, “Webex” App and “Skype” App to attend or run web-based seminars, staff meetings, sales meetings and Demos. Cost: Free Apps – The service cost varies based on your company plan. or The Apple “FaceTime” App is great for one-on-one video calls with anyone using the latest Apple IOS operating system.
7. Training – For the last two years we have been using lynda.com (Click for a 7-day free trial) for self-paced on-line video Workshops. They have an iPad (& iPhone) app so you can watch high-quality training anytime and anywhere. Cost: $250/yr/user.
We also use the Apple Store App to schedule Free Workshops and iMac One-on-One Coaching with Apple Specialists (Cost: $99/yr/user). Use Apple’s Free iTunes University to learn extra college and masters classes in key subjects. You can publish your Company Manuals as PDF files and download them to the Free iBooks App in an easy-to-read PDF format.
The Khan Academy App gives you Free College Level Video Training Classes. You can also use iTunes to listen to audio & watch video Podcasts – a great low-cost addition to any training or personal development program.
8. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – Most Sales People leave their laptops at home, in their cars or hotel rooms before a sales call. Everyone is willing to carry an iPad (& a Smartphone) into a customer meeting. Salesforce.com , SugarCRM , ZohoCRM and many other Small Business CRM vendors have iPad Apps that work with their software and service. Many CRM Systems work with just the iPad Safari Browser and do NOT need a special App.
9. Scan Business Cards – We use two apps. The first is the Worldcard Mobile App to scan new business cards into our iPad and iPhone phonebooks. The card information is scanned into the correct database field (with some minor editing). You can then export the names to an .csv file which can be imported into any CRM System. We also use the Business Card Scanning feature of Evernote (premium version). Once you snap a photo of a business card, the app first creates a copy of the card image in an Evernote Note. Then it enters the contact fields in the note and in your device phone book. If you give Evernote permission, it will also go into your Linkedin account and fill in the photo and other key info about the new contact. I like this a lot.
10. Phone Calls and Texting - Yes you can use the iPad to make phone calls and text other smartphones. We have 4 Top Apps on the iPad for talking and texting: Google Voice and Skype. You can use a Free Google Voice Number (Google Hangouts) for unlimited Voice Calls and Texting in the USA. A Free Skype for iPad App is also a good option. You can call and text other Skype uses for Free, and you can also pay a low annual fee to call any phone number in the US or Internationally. Note: You need a Bluetooth headset or wired headset to use most phone Apps on the iPad.
Apple’s Facetime App is an excellent for making Free Video Calls and Audio Only Calls to other iPad, iPhone, Laptop and Desktop owners.
iMessage Texting - In addition to the other Apps mentioned above, the Free iMessage App from Apple is just wonderful. It allows you to send text, photos, contact files and videos to any other Apple user around the world (who use the latest Apple IOS operating system). You can also send and receive group messages – That includes your overseas contacts. The iMessage uses your data service to send the info.
11. Research – We use EverNote (See our comments earlier) and Instapaper App to collect and organize market research and customer research. Both Apps automatically sync your information with all your other devices (that you have installed their Free Apps) including an: iPhone, Mac, PC or Laptop. These two apps are free, very powerful and can greatly improve your productivity.
12. Daily Reading of the News – FlipBoard App is the hottest iPad app for reading the news each day. I also read the news using the Zite App (which is now a CNN Company). We also like the Free USAToday App It’s the best general Newspaper App on the iPad. The USAToday App is extremely well designed when compared to most other Newspapers.
In addition, we listen to Free Audio and video Podcasts using the Free Apple iTunes App. The Podcasts are an excellent inexpensive way to keep up with your industry, politics and the news.
13. Digital Signing of Contracts – Both Docusign and EchoSign App (Purchased by Adobe in 2011) are used on the iPad to legally sign contracts, proposals and orders in the USA. Excellent App to reduce the time time it takes to close a sale and reduce paperwork.
14. Travel & Dining Info – When I leave the home or office, the iPad greatly helps me plan my day or week. I use Yelp to check out restaurants or coffee meeting locations. We use the OpenTable App to book our restaurant reservations. Every day, I check Google Maps (built-in) for traffic conditions and to get directions to the meeting location. I use the Weather Channel App to check for driving or flying conditions around the world. The Apple Facetime App (Built-in) or Skype App are great to see our family when traveling over night or just working late.
15. Entertainment - Flixster is a good movie App to check out movie times, find the nearest theater and the latest reviews. I use the iTunes App for music listening and movie rentals. The latest iPad displays High Definition (HD) video which is incredible for watching movies and reading magazines or books. I use the Apple iBooks App (built-in) and the Amazon’s Kindle App to read ebooks. Game Apps on the iPad are now amazing – Great to keep you busy in a hotel room at night during a business trip.
16. File Sharing - We use 3 Top Cloud services for sharing and syncing files to the iPad: Dropbox, iCloud and Box.com. Apple’s iCloud works with All Apple products and other top iPad Apps. DropBox is one of the top Apps to use in a Small Business for sharing and syncing files between your Ipad, iPhone, Android, PC and Mac products. The 1st 2-gigabytes of storage are Free. It also integrates with many of the top iPad Apps. It is the number one way to get files on and off the iPad today. Box.com App is a little more complex to use. However, it has more security options and is used by many larger companies. There is a Free version with 10GB of cloud storage. The business versions run $15 per user per month with a minimum of 3 users.
17. eMail Marketing – In the past we’ve used Vertical Response to send and manage our eNewsletter from our iPad using the built-in Safari Browser. They do not have an iPad or iPhone at at this time. The Mailchimp App is another top web-based marketing app that allow you to run and manage your marketing campaigns from your iPad (or iPhone).
18. Social Networking – We use the iPad to run our Social Networking Programs. It helps reduce the time it takes to manage your social networking programs. The following Social Networking Apps all work on the iPad: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Salesforce.com Chatter is another social networking App for business. Other Top Social Management Apps include: Hootsuite and TweetDeck.
Bonus Tips Added
19. Voice Commands – Apple Siri (for the iPad and iPhone) and Google Now (on the latest versions of the Androids) are incredible productivity apps that are Free on the Tablets. I use Siri all the time for sending and reading text messages and emails. I also use the voice function to speak instead of typing text into any field on an iPad. I use it for making ToDo lists, playing music, making calls and finding out the weather anywhere in the world. Once you start using these voice apps, you can see your productivity go up. Note: the voice technology is far from perfect…. so expect the unexpected
I hope that this info helps you get started on being more productive with your new Apple iPad. As you can see from the list of Apps and Business Processes, there are plenty of business apps to make you more productive. It is easy to justify investing in iPads for the office.
Feel free to give us a call @ 650-866-5517 or just add a comment below to ask any questions… or if you just need some help. If I missed your favorite Small Business iPad app, please add it in the comments below.
Tell us about your favorite iPad App that makes you more productive in the office… and why?