An increasing number of small business owners rely on mobile or web-based applications to help run and develop their business, even more than their US counterparts.

Nearly three-quarters of tech-savvy Brits use apps to complete administrative tasks and grow their business, according to a new global study by Intuit QuickBooks.

In a study of 2,000 small business owners and managers in four key markets, UK, Australia, Canada and the US, Britons came out on top of their US counterparts (59%) in using apps to run their business, but are trailing behind Australian Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) as 74% admit to using mobile applications.

With controlling costs and expenses revealed as the number one challenge for small businesses in the UK (44%), the most popular applications being taken up are banking and finance (59%), payments (49%) and payroll management (37%).

The other top challenges facing small companies include dealing with the competition (31%) and retaining current customers (30%).

Dominic Allon, Europe VP and Managing Director, Intuit QuickBooks, said: “More small firms than ever are putting technology at the heart of their business and using it to solve everyday problems and British entrepreneurs are ahead of a trend that is happening on a global scale.

“Small firms are well known for their creativity in how they grow their business; using digital tools to tackle their challenges head-on is key to their success.”

Making good app decisions

The study also shows that small business owners are choosing apps which will impact the bottom line. In the UK, 48% of those using apps judge the apps’ success on whether it will increase their revenue, and two thirds (66%) also realise the value in connecting data from different apps.

Beyond the business impact, ease of use (57%) and security (55%) are the top considerations in choosing an app, while privacy and security (38%) and cost (27%) are most important to building trust.

While businesses are integrating apps in record numbers, they are also running into persistent barriers, as two in five (40%) UK small business owners using apps believe there are too many apps to choose from and are unsure of which are best suited for their business. Thirty-eight percent are concerned with costs to integrate and train on apps, and complexity was an issue for 22%.

Mr Allon added: “Applications are transforming the way small businesses operate in the UK, but choosing the right technologies for their needs is crucial.

“Business owners must start with identifying their biggest challenges, whether that’s controlling costs or finding good employees, and look for apps that seamlessly integrate to get the most value from their investments.”