Advances in mobile technology over the past few years, particularly 3G and now 4G mobile internet, are enabling a new type of road warrior - those who run their business while on the move.
Some have taken it to the extreme, such as the German businessman caught with a fully-functioning office on his front passenger seat. But you don’t have to go to these lengths to manage your business efficiently while mobile.
The keys to successfully running your business on the road are getting the right technology, both hardware and software, and learning to manage your time to maximise productivity.
Hardware – Hard Choice?
On the hardware front you need devices and connectivity. You will need a mobile phone to call people, whether it’s customers, suppliers or colleagues. Most mobiles today are smartphones, so you have some computing power, but it’s likely you’ll need to do more than what a phone alone can provide. So, a laptop and/or tablet and the ability to connect to the internet either through your mobile phone or via a dedicated 3G/4G wireless device are important.
It doesn’t need to be a smartphone given you have a laptop or tablet, but it can be useful as it often provides faster access to important emails or client details.
Your choice of main computing device will depend on your specific needs and preferences. Ideally you want a device that is relatively light and has long battery life, so the new range of Ultrabook devices or a tablet are perfect. Whether you choose Windows, Mac or Android is up to you - there are plenty of business and productivity applications available for each form factor and operating system.
The Right Software
The applications you run on your devices are critical to your and your team’s productivity and to the business’s overall success. Communication is handled by your mobile phone, your favourite email application on the phone or laptop and, if video is required, Skype.
If you are using a cloud-based CRM tool to manage your clients then access to their details will also be straightforward anywhere, anytime, either directly through a browser or a specialised app.
Money On The Move
Doing business that earns direct revenue is also important on the move. This means you need the ability to provide a quote and raise an invoice. The latest cloud-based accounting apps let you do this today, creating an invoice and emailing it to the client immediately.
If you have a client meeting you can check their up-to-date account balance and invoice history before you head into the meeting, giving you complete insight into their account and helping steer the upcoming conversation. You can even use LiveAccounts to run your payroll and pay your staff while on the go.
Cash flow for small business is often a real headache. Chasing outstanding invoices and managing the collection process can be a challenge for business owners. But with the latest mobile payment technology, such as card swipers that plug into smartphones, you have a solution.
As soon as you have raised an invoice and emailed it to the client you can take payment using their credit card and your phone – a great mobile solution that will help get your debtor days heading towards zero.
Several easy-to-use website builders, such as that provided by the Getting Aussie Business Online initiative (a partnership between Google and MYOB), feature integrated ecommerce functions such as selling online and collecting payments via PayPal. This provides your customers and suppliers with a convenient and safe online credit card payment option, which means you don’t have to physically be there to build your coffers.
Apps To Increase Productivity
There are plenty of other apps that will help your mobile business by combining efficiency and mobility. These apps include note-taking, expense management, document creation, business card scanners, voice recorders and many more. The key is to try them and find out which work best with your style of doing business.
All these apps combined with increasingly powerful and connected hardware are driving the appeal and the ability to work from anywhere. The increasing number of hot-desks and telecommuters in many businesses is simply a reflection of the fact that it is now relatively straightforward to run a business or do your job whilst mobile.
There are no negatives from a performance perspective, and I’d argue managing a business whilst mobile is likely to lead to better results as you strive for time efficiency and maximum productivity.
Do you run your business remotely? Come and share your experience.