Small Business Resources: Apps and Programs for Streamlining Business Operations

August 13, 2013

As I've built my business, I've sought out and come to depend on a number of apps and cloud-based programs to streamline my business procedures and make my life easier.

Here's some of my favorite services that I highly recommend:

  • Inventory Management: Stitch Labs / No more crazy spreadsheets for tracking inventory! Stitch Labs is a cloud-based service that has transformed how I maintain an accurate inventory of all of my different products. Bonus: it also integrates with my e-commerce platform so I can manage incoming orders, send invoices, and create packing slips. 
  • Processing Payments: 
    • Square / I use the Square reader with my iPhone at craft shows and other events. It's the easiest way to quickly process credit card payments in person. The best part is that funds are usually transferred to your account within 1-2 business days. 
    • Stripe / Stripe is my go-to for processing payments on custom orders and wholesale transactions. Their fees are lower than manually entering numbers into Square. It also integrates with my e-commerce platform, so web shoppers have the option of using PayPal or using a standard credit card. 
    • PayPal / My go-to for sending money and receiving money from customers. 
  • Shipping: USPS / For most customer orders, I use the USPS and prefer their Priority Mail service. You can order free shipping supplies (boxes, envelopes), and then print your shipping labels at home at a discounted rate. 
  • Contact Manager: Highrise / Highrise has been a great solution for keeping track of various people I come into contact with - wholesale accounts, potential accounts, custom clients, and more. I can also set follow-up reminders that are emailed to me. 
  • Email: Google / Google Apps for Business has been an easy and cost-effective way to maintain a business email. I also use Drive (formerly Google Docs) for all of my business documents. 
  • Fax: Metrofax / In the world of stationery, the fax machine is alive and well. Many wholesale accounts prefer to fax their orders and, while I would prefer to do everything via email, I knew when I launched Happy Cactus thathaving a fax number was essential. Metrofax is a web-based fax service that's very simple to use. 

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