According to the 2013 AT&T Small Business Tech Survey, 85% of the companies surveyed reported using a smartphone for their day-to-day business. Interestingly, that same survey found that only 31% of small businesses used mobile apps, meaning most business owners were only using their phones for phone calls and email. And while smartphones are a great for staying on top of calls, they can do such more –your smartphone can actually help turn you, as well as your business, into a pinnacle of entrepreneurial efficiency.
Collaborate with Colleagues
Being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean you have to have an office for your business. Some of the most successful small business owners I know started their business from their living room. Logistically, however, an office-less business can be a nightmare, especially when it comes to collaboration. Your house can’t be your business 24/7, and you can’t expect to always be able to access your work computer. Thankfully, if it’s midnight and you need to finish a press release, or you’re stuck in the airport and need your partner’s input on a presentation you’re heading out to give, your smartphone can help. Cloud-based collaboration has become easier than ever with apps like Google Drive or CloudOn, so as long as you have an internet connection, you have an office.
It’s easy enough to look at your books and see how much money is coming in compared to how much is coming out, but unless you know how to use Excel really well, it can be a bit harder to track long-term performance. Plus it’s pretty difficult to lug financial records around with you everywhere you go – even if you keep all of your documents on the aforementioned Excel spreadsheet, you still have to keep your laptop on you. Luckily, there are mobile apps like Roambi that quickly create visual representations of whatever data you stick into them. At any time you can check out a breakdown of best sales by region, or your highest grossing dates. When you run a business, having quick access to financial data and analyses is a real benefit – once you have it, you can quickly answer questions, pitch ideas, and makes decisions while on the go from your office.
Obviously, you can use your phone to check your Facebook or text someone you just met your number, but there are a lot of apps that making networking way easier. LinkedIn, for all its usefulness, is still a bit clunky on most mobile devices, and it can be hard to navigate. But apps like CardMunch make exchanging LinkedIn information as easy as swapping business cards, so you don’t have to stand over someone’s shoulder as they scroll through pages of search results looking for your profile. These apps can even automatically create a new contact on their own – so much faster than poring over wrinkled business cards after a conference!
Only 30% of small businesses that use mobile apps reported using their phones to process payments – that means only 9% of the small businesses surveyed by AT&T were processing payment using their phone! Mobile payment processing is still fairly new, so I understand if it isn’t as widely embraced as other business solutions. However, good payment processing apps like SquareUp update your records in real time, and enable you, if you have an Android, iPhone, or iPad, to be able to sell on the run, in your own storefront, or online. You may opt to cover all three bases with your business!
Mobile-based business apps are all about making sure brands can keep up with their business and customer base no matter where they are. All of the work I listed above can be done fairly easily from your office computer, but when you’re on a train or sitting around the doctor’s office, it’s nice to be able to unlock your phone’s screen and get a bit of work done while you wait. It’s always a win for entrepreneurs – you feel more efficient and on top of your business this way. Small business owners are woefully underutilizing smartphones, so I really do recommend going onto the app store and checking out some productivity apps listed or finding some recommendations that best suit you and your company. You’ll be amazed at what’s out there and wonder why you didn’t get on this sooner!
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.
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