Owning a small boutique has never been easy and many have weathered a tough road to ride out the sluggish economy. But in some ways, we have arrived at the best of times for entrepreneurs thanks to a host of apps, tools and software that help you do everything from improve productivity, collect data to improve the customer experience, and track business. Learning which ones will work best for you is not easy. There are many that are just not worth the effort.

Following are a few of the newer ones you should know about that will save you time.

Main street 1HootSuite

Boutique owners are too busy to manage their daily social media interactions.

Take a look at HootSuite, a one-stop tool that allows small business owners to manage their chosen social media networks and followers into one manageable hub and viewed using a cloud based dashboard. It can also be used to schedule your messages, feedback, and analyze your social media traffic. This social media manager already has 7 million users in over 175 countries. Recently, it raised a whopping $165 million to further expand its business.

Square

Many of you have cash registers. A few have remote locations and outposts that are not conveniently located to a register. No cash register, not a problem.

Square turns you into an instant shopkeeper with a system that gives every-sized business a way to accept credit card payments using a smartphone or tablet. When you sign up with Square, they will mail you a free, one inch-tall, card reader that you’ll use for card swipes. Download the free Square Register app and link your bank accounts.

Get going and you can accept payments on your smartphone or iPad in minutes. The cost is a minimal 2.75% per swipe or a flat monthly fee of $275.

Speek

I spend lots of time on the road and have to take conference calls while driving. I would prefer to avoid the old school method of holding conference calls. Speek eliminates those annoying dial-in and PIN numbers. Instead, you get a simple personal link, i.e. speek.com/Roz. Share that link with others via email or any calendar tool you choose. Everyone clicks the link with the smartphone or tablet of their choice and with one click, they’re on the call. The service is free for small groups. Or you can opt for a $10 a month package that provides more options.

Many boutique owners are allocating more in their budgets to use on software and platforms that will enhance business success. As you begin to evaluate your options look for solutions that can scale as your business, budget and needs change. Main street retailers are investing in technology that helps build relationships, and creates personalized engagements.

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