Summertime is a reminder that more and more people are no longer working from an office on a regular schedule. Whether they are on vacation, at their child’s soccer game, or just sitting at a Starbucks, most small business owners are now working remotely.
Consider this from Computerworld.com:
“By next year (2014), mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide. Does this mean mobile devices will replace PCs? Yes and no. Some IT departments may only need to support mobile devices for specific workers whose jobs require them while the rest continue to use PCs. . . . By 2015 media tablet shipments will reach around 50% of laptop shipments.”
This mobile revolution has great ramifications for your business, both in terms of how you will manage daily operations, as well as how you will respond to the demands and expectations of your customers and employees that you offer mobile solutions to.
So just how do you take advantage of the fact that mobile technology now rules the day? Here are five essentials:
1. Master mobile marketing: Mobile marketing is a fast-growing, wide-ranging topic that will affect your business, no matter what industry you work in. Smartphones are overtaking desktops and laptops as the screen of choice. Therefore, as small businesspeople, we have to be where the eyeballs are: on smartphone screens.
So just as you once mastered offline marketing, and then online marketing, this change in habits means that you must now master mobile marketing. Whether it is a Twitter campaign or a text-marketing campaign, mobile marketing is the next great frontier for small businesses.
If you want the next generation of customers, use mobile marketing.
2. Get a handle on mobile search: Google reports that mobile searches now outnumber desktop searches, and in fact, last fall, the number of desktop searches deceased for the first time since 2006. What this means is that your potential customers are using their mobile phones to search for businesses like yours. So it is your job to make sure that when they search, they find you.
You need to master local mobile search, period.
3. Enable your business to take mobile payments: The ability for small businesses to accept credit cards through their smart phones and other mobile devices is widespread. Personally, I knew that the era of the mobile payment had arrived when I went to a local farmer’s market recently and every farmer, cheese monger, and hand-made soap vendor accepted mobile payments.
If you are not accepting them yet, invest in mobile payment options as a way to increase profits.
4. Have the right apps: The other side of the mobile coin is that not only do your customers now require that you be mobile proficient, but also, that you can run your business using the right apps.
When looking for the right apps for your business, it is important to find ones that can do the following:
- Money and finances
- Project management
- Cloud storage
- Document management and editing
- Social media
- Customer support
5. Log off: At the end of an article about tapping the mobility revolution, it seems odd to tell you that a key to success is to log off, but it is. It is sort of like the TV newscaster Howard Beale, in the great movie Network, when he says, “So turn off your television sets. Turn them off now. Turn them off right now. Turn them off and leave them off! Turn them off right in the middle of the sentence I’m speaking to you now!”
I think we can all agree that this newfound ability to work when, where, and how we want is a welcome relief from sitting at a desk at an office from 9 to 5, but there is also a real danger in plugging in too often. If you don’t want to burnout, if you don’t want your employees to burnout, if you don’t want your spouse and kids mad at you, then draw a bright line. There is a time to work and a time to play. Don’t confuse the two.
Even though you can work any time from any place now, it doesn't mean you have to.
How have you used mobile technology to help your business? Share your story below.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss