I’ve been writing this series on the iPad and Professionals for a long time, and even I’ve learned a lot in the process (having to write about job categories you’re not involved in forces you to do that). That being said, there is one huge category we’ve largely been ignoring: The average person.

In this week’s article, we’re going to be taking a look at the iPad and business management. The apps I want to take a look at cover the gamut from time management to invoicing, and hopefully get you off to a good start.

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A Few Credentials

I’ve been using the iPad as a business management tool since I started doing freelance work, but it’s become more indispensable to me in the past while. I recently started my own creative firm (you can check out my website if you’re interested, but I warn you it’s incomplete), and have been using the iPad to keep track of what needs to get done and the best ways to go about it.

I’ve been in the fortunate position of reviewing apps for AppStorm for well over a year, and have had the pleasure of using almost every major app under the sun, so I’ve whittled my workflow down to a science. Allow me to walk you through it.

Thinking In the Box

I think it’s always wise to start with what’s readily available to you. Patrick Rhone, the wise man behind Minimal Mac, is always discussing how powerful iOS is even when we first get it. So my first challenge to you, in simplifying your business with an iPad, is to move all third-party apps away from the home screen and get the experience as close to stock as possible.

I love some of the new iOS 7 features, like the Today View in Notification Centre.

I love some of the new iOS 7 features, like the Today View in Notification Centre.

There’s a few different reasons why I’ve done this, and I’ll readily admit that I haven’t stuck to it. (In fact, my home screen is rather cluttered with third-party apps.) First of all, it’s often good to experiment with old habits. It either reinforces your habits or forces you to change them, and both options are positive. The second reason I think this is worth doing is because of iOS 7.

Reminders is great on iOS 7.

Reminders is great on iOS 7.

With iOS 7, many app designs I wasn’t previously a fan of become much more appealing — and often, more useful. Reminders is a great example. Previously, I was a big fan of Things and Wunderlist. While both of those are great and inarguably more powerful than Reminders, Reminders now has a special spot in Notification Centre’s new Today View that makes it much more useful. For me, one of the first things I check every morning is Notification Centre, and having Reminders present is a great way to get a quick visual peak at my day.

The Notes app is much better than it used to be, apart from the gross yellow colour.

The Notes app is much better than it used to be, apart from the gross yellow colour.

Some of the other stock apps are pretty good now too. If you can get over the garish yellow font and don’t use an Android or Windows device in tandem with your iPad, you might find Notes is really useful and beautiful. If you work from home or don’t plan every detail of your work life with your iPad calendar, you’ll probably find that the stock Calendar app does everything you need (although I’ve raved against it before).

The stock Mail app is still my favourite email experience on iOS.

The stock Mail app is still my favourite email experience on iOS.

The stock Mail app is very good, and now allows you to choose a Reply From address. This means that those of us with several email addresses can reply from whichever one we choose — handy when we receive an email at [email protected], but want to reply from [email protected] Actually, out of all the Mail apps on iPad, no matter which ones I try, Mail remains my undisputed favourite as far as the interface goes too.

Don’t forget, too, that the benefit of using all these stock services is direct integration with Siri. Say what you will about some of Apple’s stock apps, the ability to use them in tandem with Siri makes them more powerful than many of the third-party options.

Looking Elsewhere

Of course, sometimes the stock apps aren’t enough. If you’ve been using the stock apps already and feel it’s time to move on, I’ve got a ton of recommendations for you in that regard too.

For business owners, I consistently believe the most important weapon we have is time. Managing it is equally important. That’s why I understand that Reminders might not be powerful enough for you. I’ve used and enjoy both Things and Wunderlist in the past, but if you’re looking for the be-all, end-all of productivity and time management, look no further than Omnifocus. This incredibly powerful app earned the praises of critics everywhere, and it also integrates with Siri quite nicely, meaning that you’ll get the best of every world. Better yet, the app’s Focus mode will let you get work done by helping you hone in on the details. I approve. (If you can afford to wait on it, Omnifocus 2 for iPad is coming and its iPhone counterpart is beautiful on iOS 7.)

Calendars 5 by Readdle is well worth a purchase.

Calendars 5 by Readdle is well worth a purchase.

Regarding calendars, the only smart calendar app on iPad that I can really recommend with ease is Calendars 5 by Readdle. It’s the one I’ve been using since it’s 1.0, and it’s actually very good. It integrates with Reminders as well, allowing you to see both Reminders and calendar events in one app, which is really nice. But it also allows for natural language parsing, or NLP. This means you can open the app and type in “Lunch with Suzy at 3pm on Tuesday at Symposium” and the app understands what you mean and schedules it automatically. There’s a few apps on iPhone that do this, but none on iPad, so I think that’s a huge perk. I use it nearly every day.

Evernote can do some serious heavy lifting.

Evernote can do some serious heavy lifting.

When it comes to note-taking, if you’re using a couple different devices, I’d recommend Evernote as a powerful can’t-be-beat option. With Evernote, you can do everything from drafting rough outlines of articles and making lists to taking pictures and making notes. Evernote also interacts with Moleskine now, should you purchase the right notebook, and will allow you to make all your paper notes digital and searchable. It’s tremendously cool.

If you’re looking for something a little more lightweight, consider Simplenote. It works on multiple platforms and has never failed me. It also has a beautiful design that’s simple, but coherent.

When it comes to more complicated tasks, like invoicing, you’ll note that there aren’t any stock apps that are going to fit that task for you. There are quite a few invoicing apps on the App Store, but I’ve always preferred Pages for its flexibility. Not only is the app extremely powerful, but it’s also simple and free with the purchase of any new iOS 7-equipped device as of September 2013.

Scanner Pro is just about everything you'd need to go paperless, unless you want to get a Doxie.

Scanner Pro is just about everything you’d need to go paperless, unless you want to get a Doxie.

You might also want to consider going paperless. I use Scanner Pro, another Readdle app, to scan any documents that I need. It’s fairly simple and it works really well, and I’d highly recommend it. Dropbox is your friend in this case — you can keep all your receipts and invoices in their own folders so you don’t have to worry about losing them in a filing cabinet or, dare I say it, a messy drawer.

Final Notes

There’s a million things your business is going to need. Some of these tools you’re going to discover as you go, and they’re going to be very specific. For me, my business is fairly simple, but I realize I’m fortunate. I can’t hit upon every app that you’ll find valuable, but hopefully you’ve got some food for thought from all this.

I’m very interested in knowing what apps you’re using to run your business, and I know myself and the AppStorm team would love to continue the conversation in the comments.


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