Now if you were to ask any small business team or startup you’d probably find that many of them are already largely mobile. However what I’m referring to in the title of this post is more than simply taking calls on the go or sending out a few tweets. Communications and computing technology allow for businesses to now operate from almost anywhere, no longer are we restricted to a stuffy office environment. Instead, providing you have access to a reliable internet source you can now use innovative web apps and software to manage everything from the client proposal right up to the delivery of the end product. While this new found ability does not come without a few cons we believe that there are more pros to this way of life!
Business is rarely a 9-5 job anymore, so for many small businesses and startups, one of the main attractions of working for yourself is choosing when and most importantly where to set up work. A recent PeoplePerHour poll, showed that nine out of ten SMEs already use mobile phones and apps to keep a handle on company operations and this is on a daily basis. So it is no surprise that this new technology has paved the way for a ‘anytime and anywhere’ choice of workplace and we can see why. Working on the go creates more time for clients and more attention can be spent on the projects in hand, web apps can drive a small business with more ease than ever before making work a more rewarding experience.
The selection of apps available for both Apple and Android devices is huge, there is something for every business need, we recently picked our ‘7 Must Have Small Business Web Tools’ to help you navigate the vast selection out there. Yet this blog is not about specific tools, it’s about how these can be integrated into your daily work life so whether you want to stay at home, travel, live in a remote spot or simply want a change of scenery for a day running a flexible operation is now entirely achievable.
Below I have outlined a few ideas on how to begin integrating your mobile office into your daily operations, so that you can feel connected, organised and informed as you run a small business from anywhere.
Document Storage and creation:
Cloud solutions are becoming more popular, Dropbox, Google Drive you name it, somewhere someone is using it everyday. Providing safe, secure access wherever you are. Crucial for sharing large documents with clients or members of your team, viewing and downloading them wherever you are or editing them on the go. You are no longer restrained to your desktop, or trying in vain to get word documents to open on your device. Now even as you’re on route to an important meeting, you can rest assure that someone on your team is editing the same document with the most up to date information. While cloud solutions are not entirely exchangeable for a laptop or desktop, I do think that Google Docs is a great small business tool because it offers a platform for collaboration and editing capabilities.
At the end of the day the most important thing to any business is satisfied clients, so I bet you’re wondering what these online offices do when they have to meet a client. Just because you no longer have a fixed office doesn’t mean your client relationships have to suffer, virtual meetups are fast becoming a favourite in many workplaces. Whether its by Skype or Google Hangouts these allow you to take business meetings anywhere, for both the ease of your client and the business.
On top of this it’s worth noting that many cities now have centres or clubs with both internet access and meeting rooms, meaning as long as you have your mobile or tablet you can meet a client anywhere.
Team communications, staying connected:
The way small businesses interact is changing thanks to new technology and app creation, making it possible to be even more responsive and closely connected than ever before. These alternative solutions to calls and email offer a cost effective way to directly communicate with your employees and clients wherever you are.
Say hello to the likes of Skype and Google hangouts our favourite VoIPs, tried and tested, these are the best known online meeting tools available with nearly 300 million Skype users worldwide. More often these days many online or small businesses have people working remotely across the country or globe. No longer do you have to be in the same room or time zone to be a daily part of the same workplace. But these virtual offices don’t stop there, project management apps allow you keep track of all your work from start to finish. Creating an online space for discussions, sharing documents, instant commenting and team to-do lists.
It’s great because even when none of you are in the building you can essentially take a seat in their office. You no longer have to run up a small fortune trying to contact your coworker whose sat halfway around the world.
It’s the 11am, you’ve been to your first meeting, caught up on your invoices, called your employee, checked the mail and made sure everything is running smoothly for the day, what do you do next? Tweet of course. Often social media can be an afterthought. However as a low cost way to directly engage with consumers, every small business should take advantage of mobile marketing to either inform or connect with existing and new clients.
Whether you’re an established small business or a young startup, few companies are now complete without a clear social media presence. It is fast becoming one of the most powerful marketing tools, so finding the right fit for your company is important. Image-led platforms versus word based whatever your niche is, these are all marketing tools that can be accessed on the go. Management apps like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck allow you to simultaneously schedule these updates from one dashboard, meaning that even as you’re stood in the post office queue you can be chatting to your next potential client. This is where conversion from simple ‘likes’ or ‘retweets’ can turn into real connections.
I think what is important to remember is that not everyone wants to or likes working away from an office, instead favoring a more traditional environment. However what I wanted to get across is that these ideas and tools while are great for running a business remotely are also transferable to any workplace and can help to create a more flexible and often efficient business. I’m not by any means suggesting get rid of your office or desktop devices. I’m merely showing that technology is changing the way we work and if anything is allowing us to have more flexibility and choice in our work day.