Mobile technology continues to create new efficiency and shorten the runway to success for small businesses and startups.
Those working to carve their niche in the toy and game industry are well positioned to move the needle on their efforts with the assistance of mobile applications that help organize and manage some of their most challenging business tasks, anytime, anywhere.
Here are 6 applications getting good reviews for being particularly useful to streamline small business and startup activities of toy and game entrepreneurs, inventors and manufacturers.
Base - small business CRM
Effortlessly manage your leads and contacts, and track sales with Base. Sync it with your email contacts and follow leads through the pipeline to conversion. Other, more well known CRM software programs such as Salesforce can be expensive and overkill for a small company. Base is free to try – track your first 50 transactions from “Lead” to “Deal” and manage your contacts for free. Get additional “deal” transaction credits added to your account by recruiting your friends to use the app. Once you hit your free deal limit, start out at $15/month with additional subscription features available in a tiered pricing model. Use Base to organize all the toy and game stores you want to sell your stuff to. And then use it to stay on top of all the stores you already sell your stuff to.
Think of Evernote as a virtual file cabinet… where you can put just about anything. Evernote organizes your information into a cross referenced system that can hold text notes, photos, videos, weblinks, PDF files, music files, screen grabs, etc. Every piece of information is captured as a “note.” Notes can be sorted into files called “Notebooks.” Notebooks can be put into larger notebooks and so on. In addition, every item stored in Evernote can be tagged with keywords for cross-reference to further enhance your ability to search and put your finger on whatever you want to retrieve with ease.
Yes. You CAN accept credit cards from your customers at a reasonable price. Square brings access to credit card payment processing to micro business with an application that loads onto your mobile phone and a small little device that plugs into the top of your phone and swipes the card. Use it at trade shows for instant payment on in-person wholesale orders and retail sales. There’s also an option to manually process transactions received via phone or through email or fax for a slight upcharge.
Backup your important stuff on your computer! And then access it from your smartphone. Store pretty much anything – documents, spreadsheets, photos, and other projects in the cloud on Dropbox. A free starter account provides 2 gigabytes of storage space. Working like an external hard drive, Dropbox automatically syncs to your computer so you can access contents even if offline. It also allows you to privately share huge files that are too big to email. Simply drop it into a folder on Dropbox and give the other person access to that folder only. Need more than 2 gigs? Get extra gigs awarded to you by inviting friends to use the tool, or simply pay a low monthly or annual subscription fee on a tiered basis depending on your needs.
If you’ve managed to get distribution for your product overseas, you’ll appreciate how expensive phone calls can get. Of course, striving to communicate via email helps, but if you have to talk on the phone, try Viber. The only caveat is that the person on the other end has to sign up for the service too. But it allows you to make calls and save a ton of money. You can use your smartphone to make free calls and send free text, photo and video messages to other Viber users, on any device, in any network, in any country!
Managing expenses is a pain in the you-know-what. Track travel expenses right on your phone and generate an expense report. Expensify is an expense management application for everyone, from individuals and contractors, to small businesses and the enterprise. Scan receipts, import credit card statements. All with ironclad security.
Do you have an app on your phone that is making your life as a toy and game entrepreneur easier? Let us know! Leave a comment below.
Michelle Spelman is Editor and Inventor Relations Liaison for Chicago Toy & Game Group. She is a game inventor, and co-founder of Flying Pig Games LLC, creators of award-winning Jukem Football card game. She is also founder of Cincinnati Game & Toy Industry Professionals group, and is the Cincinnati Children’s Toy Examiner. An independent marketing consultant providing contract services, executive coaching and strategic direction, she’s in her sweet spot when she is working with companies focused on women and family-oriented products and services.