Supported by Vodafone

5 life hacks to scale your business in a mobile age

By Anna Schaverien 9 August 2017
image: getty/vgajic

Let these apps do the work, so you don’t have to.

Your head is buzzing with a thousand to-dos. You’re constantly being pulled away from what you thought you’d do today.

And all the while, you’re struggling to keep afloat, let alone grow your business.

Welcome to business owner life. But that’s not how it needs to be.

Here’s five easy ways to bring down your heart rate, free up your work day, and be able to focus on what you really want to get done.

Say goodbye to HR heartburn

You don’t start a business expecting to spend hours of your week negotiating the ins and outs of complicated HR systems.

But unfortunately that’s exactly what happens.

Switch to Charlie HR and you’ll find that dark cloud of sorting out payroll, annual leave and sick days has magically been lifted.

Three entrepreneurs, Rob O’Donovan, Tom Carrington Smith, and Ben Gateley, created the platform in 2015 after desperately seeking an alternative to the tedium of HR admin.

It’s intuitive to use, has a clean and attractive design, and will make you wonder why no-one made booking time off this easy before.

Best of all, it’s free.

Over 7,000 small businesses have seen the light, including Lyst and WeWork. Get started within minutes and put that time you used to lose to fiddly HR systems to better use.

Go paperless

Your accountant most likely hates you.

That’s if you bring them that box – you know the one – filled to the brim with receipts, post-it notes on invoices and unpaid bills.

Bring ReceiptBank into your life and your relationship with the accountant is about to reach an all-time high.

ReceiptBank calls itself automated bookkeeping. The process is painless: take a photo of the receipt and the software will save it for you.

Sole traders can get going from £9.99 a month, and a small business plan starts from £20 a month.

A small price to pay to keep the person looking after your finances on side.

Be your own bookkeeper

Hang on, though.

If you can’t stretch to an accountant, or would rather cut out the middleman, there’s a hack for that as well.

Take control of your finances with Xero.

It’s accounting software that links your bank account, bills, expenses, invoices, and more.

Founded in 2006 by a New Zealand accountant Rod Drury, it now boasts over one million subscribers.

You can see why – at the touch of a button you can pay bills and send invoices to clients.

And it works with your iPhone and iPad too, so you don’t need to be at your desk to give the ok.

Xero’s prices range from £10 a month for a starter plan to £27.50 a month for the premium package.

Dropbox Paper is an elegant way to collaborate and work in teams.

Go back to the drawing board

Working collaboratively on a document, to put it nicely, can be an utter nightmare.

Who’s even bothered to click the link, and who took out that sentence that took you five minutes to perfect?

All herald the new app that is Dropbox Paper – the beautifully minimalist way of working well with other people.

Dropbox say that, like a sheet of blank paper, their Paper can be anything you want it to be.

The sales spiel does actually live up to the promise.

Take a meeting agenda: in Paper, you can tag who attended, tick off each topic, tag actions and assign deadlines, hold a vote, and easily embed videos, SoundCloud links, and even gifs.

And the most magical part of Paper is that it’s free to Dropbox users.

Hire a bank that’s right for you

Freelancers know the phrase ‘unpredictable cash flow’ doesn’t even begin to cover it.

And despite almost two million freelancers in the UK, high-street banks haven’t caught up.

Approach them for a business bank account, and they’ll ask to see a business plan – for a freelancer? That doesn’t exist.

That’s where Coconut Bank comes in.

Specially created for the self-employed, Coconut was set up this year by Sam O’Connor and Adam Goodall to give freelancers a real business bank account.

It helps you work out taxes, track your expenses and get paid on time.

And it comes with an effortlessly simple app – you can set up a Coconut account from your phone in just a few minutes.