Mar 18, 2013

3 Steps to Using Smartphones or Tablets for Your Small Business

Choosing the degree to which business is transacted and managed digitally is just one of many questions that small business owners need to answer in the new business landscape. Now, with the ubiquity of smartphone and tablet devices, small business owners are finding new ways to take advantage of mobility and efficiency of new technologies. Already, more than a third of small business owners use smartphones or tablets to conduct business, according to, and this trend is expected to grow. A report by the IDC proves mobile Internet users to surpass wireline users by 2015.

Small business owners use smartphones and tablets for more and more business activities every day, according to the report. And why not? It makes your mobile simple, and there are specialized apps for almost every industry. If you’re a small business owner thinking about getting more digital and more mobile, follow these steps to find your happy digital medium.

Step 1: Evaluate Your Current Infrastructure

Almost every business has some room to reduce reliance on paper and improve efficiency through smartphones and tablets. Start by looking at your current vendors and what type of digital options they have. For instance, if you have a business credit card from American Express you can download its app and manage your credit card. Other vendors may have similar apps or analytic tools to use. Next determine if the ease and mobility of smartphones and tablets could increase productivity. There are guides online and apps designed to help with this part, so a little investigation can go a long way. Start with a budget of the initial cost of moving more business digital. Be sure to include the cost of buying new equipment for your staff (if needed), and whether you’d have to buy a new printer, scanner, or other auxiliary devices.

Step 2: Purchase and Play

Once you’ve decided to conduct more business on your smartphone or tablet it’s time to load it up with apps and get it to work. For a small business owner there are four main apps that can help run the business: 1) financial management — accounting, manage payments, manage payroll, track expenses, you name it, and you can probably do it on an app; 2) file storage — making all your companies relevant information accessible to you whenever; 3) document editing — there are a variety of apps for different document types, find the ones you use the most; and 4) communication — email is the obvious choice, but you can also fax, Facebook, and Twitter to connect with customers.

Step 3: Backup Accordingly

Now that, you’ve decided to digitize more of your business to be accessed by your smart device you need to take the precaution of setting up contingencies if the device doesn't function (i.e. you drop it in a puddle, it’s left in a cab, etc.). Since the devices have become essential to managing your business you must have a plan that'll allow your business to go on seamlessly without your smartphone or tablet; this could mean always having a backup device in case of calamity and saving data on a remote server.
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