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Business apps: Everything you need to know

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Emma Macfarlane

Sep 27, 2022

With the explosion of different business apps now available, more and more businesses are using apps to help run their daily operations and to grow – gaining access to smarter insights and banishing manual tasks to the past.

But what exactly are business apps? And how are businesses that embrace app technology seeing the benefits? 

First, what exactly do we mean by apps?

An app – or ‘application’ – is a type of software created to solve a specific need. Business apps are designed to help run your business, by assisting with common challenges such as invoicing, payroll, time tracking, reporting and inventory management.

Modern business apps are cloud-based, which means they’re accessed over the internet. This provides business owners with additional benefits such as real-time collaboration, access to the same single-source of data, anytime and from anywhere with an internet connection. Cloud-based solutions remove the need to install and run clunky software on your own devices, instead offering automated software updates – and simplified support. Apps can be purchased as ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions, usually on a monthly or annual subscription, or you can even get them custom-built if you have very specific requirements.

What role do apps play?

Think of mobile apps on a smartphone. When you buy a phone it comes with all the essentials you need to communicate. You can then choose and add apps that suit your specific needs, making daily tasks easier and adding value to your life. With mobile apps, you can customise your phone to do everything you want it to. 

Business apps that connect to Xero do the same thing. They integrate with Xero’s core accounting software, customising and extending Xero to enhance your business capabilities. They make it easier to run your business, saving you time and money or helping you grow.

So why all the hype?

No matter the industry or size of the business, there are lots of great benefits for those that use apps.

1. Apps support increased revenue and resilience

Businesses that embrace digital tools accelerate their growth, according to Xero’s Small Business Insights special report. In fact, the more apps small businesses use, the better. The report analysed aggregated anonymised data from over 300,000 small businesses on the Xero platform and found that businesses in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK with five or more apps grew their sales by 4.3% during 2020, while those without apps saw a decline of 3.4%. 

2. Apps help businesses save time

The best small business apps make it easy to manage and automate tedious time-consuming aspects of your business operations, which can save you time. Using multiple apps that integrate with each other is a great way to reduce manual data entry for even more benefit.

Thousands of Xero customers use a combination of apps, integrating them with Xero to create a software solution bespoke to their business needs. They’re reaping the benefits of automation, streamlined and accurate data and easier access to the insights they need to better run their businesses. 

For example, dairy farmers Donovan Croot and Sophie Cookson use Figured – a reporting app – and PaySauce – a payroll, HR, and time tracking app – alongside Xero to simplify their business and spend more time with their young children.

3. Apps can help save businesses money

There are hundreds of apps that are designed to help boost your bottom line in a variety of ways.

Reporting and insights apps help businesses increase revenue and reduce costs by giving you the visibility and insights to make more informed decisions.

Debtor tracking apps automate invoice chasing and streamline your payment processes, so you can consistently get paid faster.

There’s also an abundance of apps that can help your business save money by increasing productivity and reducing the time and resources spent on manual processes like time tracking or invoicing and job management. For example, expense management apps make it faster than ever to review expenses, reimburse employees, and close your books each month.

4. Apps help support flexible working

Cloud based apps make it easy to work from wherever you need to be. Whether it’s having access to project information on the jobsite, submitting an expense straightaway by taking a photo of the receipt with your phone, or checking sales information on the road, you no longer need to be tied to an office or paper-based system. Apps allow you to work from almost anywhere, just like Brad Dodds, owner of Dodds Building and Contracting:

“I find myself working just about anywhere I want to now. I used to be stuck in my office, however, Xero being cloud-based means that I can work in my office when it’s convenient or I can work at the kitchen table, or on the site, or away from home. I can always access my data anywhere.” 

Not sure where to start? 

Now’s a great time to consider how you can take advantage of app technology like thousands of other small businesses. Whether you want to manage and pay your staff, add payments, sell online, track your jobs or stock, get in-depth analytics or industry specific tools, there’s an app for everything. 

With over 1,000 apps that connect to Xero, the Xero App Store makes it easier than ever to find, try and buy the right apps for your business. 

Check out the five easy steps to help you find the right app for your business.

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