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Business apps: Everything you need to know

There are apps available for businesses of all types - but what are apps exactly, and what can they do for your business?
Man discovering the power of apps

Chances are you didn’t get into business for the love of tedious, time-consuming, admin tasks. 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 – banishing those manual tasks to the past. But what exactly are business apps? And how are businesses that embrace app technology seeing the benefits?

First things first, what exactly do we mean by apps?

An app – short for ‘application’ – is a type of software created to perform a specific function. For business apps, this means software designed to assist with common business 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 benefits such as real-time collaboration, access to the same single-source-of-truth data, and the ability to use these apps from any location with an internet-connected device. Cloud-based software also eliminates the need to install and run software on your own devices, and allows for automated software updates and simplified support.

Apps can be purchased as off-the-shelf solutions, usually as a monthly or annual subscription, or custom built where there are very specific requirements.

Professional with device on the XAS

What role do apps play?

Think of 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 apps, you can customise your phone to do everything you need.

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 making it easier to run your business, saving you time and money or helping you grow.


So why all the hype?

No matter what industry you’re in, or whether you're a sole trader or a growing business, there are lots of great reasons why you should integrate apps into your business operations.

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 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%.

Businesses with 5+ apps grew their sales by 4.3%, while those without apps saw a decline of 3.4%.

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 and integrate with other small business software.

Thousands of Xero customers use a combination of apps to build their own bespoke business solution to reap the benefits of automation, data accuracy, and insights. 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.

Check out our featured apps

Each month, we put together a collection of apps that are creating an excellent experience for their users. This is a great way to get started with app recommendations in the Xero App Store.
See all featured apps
  1. Syft

    4.84 out of 5 stars
    Reports | Graphs | Forecasts | Consolidations | Budgets | Valuations | Financial Statements | Tax | Industry Benchmarks
  2. ApprovalMax

    4.84 out of 5 stars
    ApprovalMax makes it easy for Xero users to build robust financial controls across accounts payable and accounts receivable with automated approvals and more.
  3. XBert

    5 out of 5 stars
    AI-Powered Practice Management that monitors Xero data entry & your practice, ensuring team efficiency and accuracy. Practice Analytics to onboard & price clients. Information management linked to smarter workflows. Client portals to gather information with ease. XPM and Xero Integration.
  4. Tradify

    4.66 out of 5 stars
    The fastest and easiest job management app for tradespeople. Tradify cuts out hours of admin, giving you your life back. Manage enquiries, quoting, job tracking, staff management, timesheets, invoicing & more! Trusted by thousands of tradespeople around the world.

Apps can help save your business 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 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.

Apps also help support flexibility for small business owners

Cloud-based apps allow you to work seamlessly wherever you need to be. Whether it’s having access to project information on the job site, submitting an expense the minute you get a receipt by taking a photo on 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 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.

Brad Dodds 2

Take advantage of app technology

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.

Not sure where to start? Check out our five easy steps to help you find the right app for your business.

Find, try and buy apps in the Xero App Store.

Find the right apps for your business

The Xero App Store has a wide range of apps, add-ons and integrations to choose from, and makes it easier than ever to find, try and buy the right apps for your business.
Browse apps
Find, try and buy apps in the Xero App Store.
Although Xero reviews each app in the Xero App Store, we can’t give any guarantees. It’s up to you to assess the performance, quality and suitability of any app before going ahead.