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  • Brett Muir
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  • January 17, 2021

There’s an app for that

Let technology do the heavy lifting with these helpful business and personal tools.

Video and podcast

Content exploded in 2020, with technology making it accessible for every business from corporates down to sole traders to create entertaining and informative videos. As long as the audio is clear, consumers no longer expect high-end production values. In fact, unpolished and candid authenticity can be more engaging.
This intuitive app allows you to edit footage, merge clips and add music, sound effects and subtitles. You can also trim unwanted section of video and adjust the speed of footage. Finished videos can be shared to websites or social media.
If you need to capture your computer screen to make instructional videos for customers or staff, Loom does the trick. It allows you to record yourself (video or audio) and your screen simultaneously. Anyone who has ever tried to talk a colleague or customer through software on the phone will appreciate how much time a video message can save. This type of instructional videos can make a useful addition to FAQs on business websites.
Just when it seemed it couldn’t get any bigger, podcasting exploded. Australian platform Wooshkaa has a one-stop shop that hosts and allows businesses to record and edit their own public or in-house podcasts. It is the only podcasting host that allows content to be played natively through Facebook.

Expenses and payments

Small business owners are often on the go, but that’s no excuse not to stay on top of receipts and payments.
Just photograph receipts and the app’s SmartScan technology captures the details. It can also sync with your phone GPS to track mileage. Expensify integrates with major accounting software such as QuickBooks and Xero. A similar expenses and distance tracker for freelancers or a mobile workforce is Hurdlr.
For freelancers and smaller businesses, this is receipt tracking without unnecessary and more expensive bells and whistles. The drill is the same – just photograph your receipt and the details are logged. Again, it integrates with most major accounting software.
Why waste time on invoices and stall your own cashflow when you can take payments on the spot? Square is simple mobile payment hardware and software that came into its own last year, adding QR codes and contactless ordering to its integrated services. Business can also design and sell gift cards online through Square, although another popular site for this purpose is GiftUp.


The past year has been anything but organised. Start 2021 by putting your house back in order with software to organise yourself, your staff and your family.
You know all those articles you’re going to read when you have time? They end up as screen shots and random links cluttering your digital desktop. That’s why Pocket (formerly Read It Later) is one of the most popular and well-reviewed organisational apps out there. It lets you save and organise articles and videos from the internet to read later, and ensures you can always find what you’re looking for.
Clear overflowing inboxes and automatically sort emails as they arrive with this clever tool. The software’s AI filters emails into priority folders, learning what is important to each user. At about $10 a month, it can be a steep learning curve initially, but SaneBox claims it can save users more than 100 hours in a year. The site provides plenty of advice on how to get the most out of the software through its Zero Academy. Learn more here.
Want to know how much time you fritter away each day? Really? Installing RescueTime to run in the background of your computer or devices can be confronting, but illuminating. PCMag gave it a 5-star review, calling it “one of the best productivity apps we’ve ever tested”. There’s a basic free or more detailed subscription version. You tell the program what sites or apps are productive or unproductive and it lets you know where and when you are wasting time. There is a ‘get focused’ option to block distracting sites. This type of app is particularly useful at the moment with people working from home surrounded by distractions. It’s a great New Year’s program to recommend or gift to staff members too. (Freelancers looking for time-tracking apps for billing purposes can try Harvest or Toggl.)
Don’t forget family appointments. Cozi is consistently ranked one of the best family scheduling apps, with colour coding for different family members. It can share schedules across devices so “nobody told me” (hopefully) becomes a redundant phrase.
This basic scheduling software is a cheap option for small business owners who need to track who is working and when. It’s aimed for companies with around 20 staff, with a simple mobile-friendly interface. ZoomShift involves a bit of set up to enter employee and job details, but can upload data from Square, Xero, Intuit and QuickBooks.
This is scheduling software with more of an emphasis on monitoring for businesses who have employees on the road or working remotely. Once staff log on, it tracks their location, hours and time spent on individual tasks. It has some useful features for work from home, such as real time individual or group chats and staff surveys.
The focus of this software it to share knowledge and encourage a collaborative culture. It’s a virtual version of what often goes on across desks in the office. You can use BlogIn to create a knowledge hub where staff can go to look for answers, ask questions or answer questions. It also acts as a bulletin board for staff news and events.
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