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Essential apps for small biz

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SEDA Nelson Mandela Bay ICT incubator (SNII) has identified seven apps that are essential for South African small businesses and entrepreneurs.

“Our team wanted to review and curate a holy-grail of essential apps for start-ups, young businesses and entrepreneurs.  Our mission was to create apps that would increase productivity, offer innovation and boost profitability,” said Scott Zambonini, SNII enterprise development manager.

“Now there is no more excuse for mediocrity. The neat selection of apps takes into account all the unique challenges of new start-ups and small businesses,” he said.

These seven innovations are:

1.   Resource Guru

If you are having difficulty keeping track of your schedules, Resource Gugu is your answer. It is a web-based resource scheduling and calendar tool which specialises in online collaborative software that can be used for employment, project management, events, task management or resource planning. The scheduling software is designed to automate the process of scheduling appointments and staff time. Packages range from R290 per month ($19 a month) to R1 508 ($99).

2.   Headspace

If you are heading for burn-out, you need to breathe and get this app. Stay cool, calm, and collected with Headspace – a meditation app that will strengthen your state of mind.  The first 10 days offer guided mediation sessions free of charge.  The app provides animations explaining how the mind works, and offers tips on how to sit and breathe effectively. You can also track your activity, and set reminders with the app. Once the free trial period is completed, a subscription for more content is available for R107 ($7).

3.   Growth Geeks

As a start-up entrepreneur or small business, you might not yet be in a position to employ staff. So the best option is to hire the tech warrior army of Growth Greeks. Growth Geeks is a marketplace of freelancers specialising in electronic marketing stuff for social, SEO and content.  They are vetted and ranked by other users.

4.  Clear

This task-management app allows you to create and manage separate lists for daily tasks, along with the setting of reminders. We loved the design interface. Users can create several lists and multiple schedules. The price of Clear isR76 ($4.99) for iPhones and R153 ($9.99) for desktops.

5.  Shoeboxed

Finally! Here is an app that helps you to digitize paper.  If you are a hoarder of receipts, notes, lists and business cards, say hi to Shoeboxed, and goodbye to those disorganised piles of paper messing up your desk and piling up in your car, wallet and handbag. Now you can dump them into a digital shoe box.   This app allows you to digitize and store receipts, invoices and business cards in an easily searchable archive. An additional bonus included with the app is a GPS-based mileage tracker.

6.  Basecamp

Basecamp is a really user-friendly project-management app. It has a sleek and intuitive graphic user interface that allows you to invite team members, include file attachments and create checklists as you check on the progress of the task or project.  With Basecamp, you pay per project instead of per user. Plans start at R305 ($20) per month for 10 projects. Multi-tasking mutant entrepreneurs who need more can sign up for unlimited access with no cap on the number of projects for R2284 ($150).

7.  Square

Square Register is a user-friendly point-of-sale system, available in the App Store and Google Play. The app accepts debit and credit cards, EMV chip cards and Android Pay. If you are a small business owner who depends on point-of-sale purchases, but you have a limited budget for payment systems, then plug in a small card-reader to your smartphone or tablet. With this app you can swipe credit cards and process payments just like any established retailer. You don’t have to be connected to the Internet, you can use email or text messages to send receipts, and the system even allows for your generous customers to leave a tip of 15%, 20% or 25%. There is no monthly fee; instead, you’ll pay 2.75% of each transaction, or a little more if you have to manually enter the payment information instead of swiping.

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Now download a bank account

Absa has introduced an end-to-end account opening for new customers, through the Absa Banking App, which can be downloaded from the Android and Apple app stores. This follows the launch of the world first ChatBanking on WhatsApp service.

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This “download your account” feature enables new customers to Absa, to open a Cheque account, order their card and start transacting on the Absa Banking App, all within minutes, from anywhere and at any time, by downloading it from the App stores.

“Overall, this new capability is not only expected to enhance the customer’s digital experience, but we expect to leverage this in our branches, bringing digital experiences to the branch environment and making it easier for our customers to join and bank with us regardless of where they may be,” says Aupa Monyatsi, Managing Executive for Virtual Channels at Absa Retail & Business Banking.

“With this innovation comes the need to ensure that the security of our customers is at the heart of our digital experience, this is why the digital onboarding experience for this feature includes a high-quality facial matching check with the Department of Home Affairs to verify the customer’s identity, ensuring that we have the most up to date information of our clients. Security is supremely important for us.”

The new version of the Absa Banking App is now available in the Apple and Android App stores, and anyone with a South African ID can become an Absa customer, by following these simple steps:

  1. Download the Absa App
  2. Choose the account you would like to open
  3. Tell us who you are
  4. To keep you safe, we will verify your cell phone number
  5. Take a selfie, and we will do facial matching with the Department of Home Affairs to confirm you are who you say you are
  6. Tell us where you live
  7. Let us know what you do for a living and your income
  8. Click Apply.

 

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How we use phones to avoid human contact

A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.

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Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances. 

Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?

The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.

In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.

Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.

Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”

To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:

·         I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?

With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.

·         Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?

Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.

·         I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?

Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.

 

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