I recall attending a conference roughly ten years ago, where one of the speakers held up his phone and said that this is where your business is going. He, of course, was referring to his phone, and the smartphones that were to come. This was at a time when there were basically a handful of apps available, which nobody knew what to do with them anyway. It was kind of like the mouse appearing on the scene before the software companies programmed its use. I remember pointing the mouse at my desktop computer with an original version of windows saying this will never work. I regress again. It is becoming easier and easier to use a phone to do things, especially business tasks, than it is to use a computer. This was well planned by the phone companies, realizing that the average individual will spend more money on a smartphone than on a computer, and update four times more frequently. Never underestimate entrepreneurial ingenuity.
Time is money and money is time. Many small business owners are running a large portion of their day to day operations from their phone. Among other things, this lets them have more mobility to make things happen on the run. Not tied to a desk or a need to pull out a laptop, a smartphone with every app known to man is in the palm of your hand. In the last several years, there has been an explosion of cloud-based mobile apps, or mobile versions of desktop software applications, that make it easy to stay on top of most of your business operations right from your mobile phone.
Let’s categorize today’s useful apps and take a look at some of what is available to you, along with links to their sites.
Accounting and Money Management: All the essential tools that at one point not too long ago were only at the disposal of your accountant. Now you yourself can send out invoices, track time, pay bills, run payroll, track mileage and more: QuickBooks, Xero, FreshBooks, Intuit Online Payroll, Harvest, Wave, Bill.com, Shoeboxed, Everlance
These are just the beginning of potential resources that are available to you via your smartphone. If you have a need, there will be an app for it. And if not, create one. One last word on utilizing smartphone software and technology. As with your other data, security is obviously a huge concern. Take steps before you venture into unknown apps to make your data as safe as possible. If you’re going to put sensitive data up in the cloud, take a few steps to protect that information. Be sure to research potential providers when it comes to security and privacy, looking at online reviews as well as recommendations from other small business owners. The same logical security decisions that you make for your current data can be applied to your smartphone.
- Choose reputable companies
- Use passwords
- Protect your devices
- Control access
Take the plunge and move forward with a secure data plan to get the most out of your new-found smartphone apps.