Running a small business can be time consuming. More often than not there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done in the office and on-the-go.
Thankfully, your smartphone can help. You, your business partners, and customers are all advancing their mobile presence which means smartphone and tablet use will continue to rise – making everyone in the small business ecosystem more accessible than ever before.
According to eMarketer research, “The global smartphone audience surpassed the 1 billion mark in 2012 and will total 1.75 billion in 2014. eMarketer expects smartphone adoption to continue on a fast-paced trajectory through 2017. Nearly two-fifths of all mobile phone users—close to one-quarter of the worldwide population—will use a smartphone at least monthly in 2014.”
Meanwhile, mobile app usage increased on a similar trajectory. Nielsen research suggests, “consumers are spending more time on their apps than ever before . . . New data from Nielsen shows that U.S. Android and iPhone users age 18 and over spend 65 percent more time each month using apps than they did just two years ago . . . [Data also] shows that while there may be an upper limit to the total number of apps users are willing to access within a given month, the amount of time they are spending on those apps is showing no signs of slowing down.”
These mobile consumer trends all point to endless possibilities for small business owners to leverage the smartphone for productivity and workflow management. Here’s how:
Meetings and Communication
Smartphones were designed for on-the-go communication and now you can keep in touch with whoever, whenever. Whether you want to make a call to the office or a client, send an email or have a video conference chat, your smartphone and readily available apps makes this a reality.
If you have a business phone number with enhanced features, try downloading virtual phone system apps like eVoice or Grasshopper. Meanwhile, managing a number of email accounts has never been easier with apps like myMail. And lastly, if you need to see your team face-to-face the Hangouts app or the GoToMeeting app could be just what you need to improve collaboration.
There are a multitude of social media apps and they can help you and your team stay connected. For example, try Facebook Pages Manager for all of your Facebook admin needs and HootSuite to schedule and automate social media content posts.
Document Sharing and Creation
Never be without an important file again. Today, your ability to access, edit and share documents on the fly will set you apart from less agile companies. Cloud-based document management is becoming increasingly common because of its flexible nature and smartphone accessibility.
Dropbox and Google Drive are two of the most commonly used cloud solutions with a lot of meaningful bells and whistles. For instance, Google Drive can be linked with the separate Google Docs and Google Sheets apps so your work can easily be edited, uploaded and saved while on the go.
Other apps worth noting are CloudOn, to open Microsoft Office programs, and Adobe’s free PDF reader; both necessities for accessing different document formats. Additionally, Evernote allows you to make notes during meetings and easily share them with your colleagues. Again, a useful app for creating documents and sharing them when you’re out of the office.
Reporting and analytics are a key part of business. If you need to stay on top of your company website’s key metrics, the Google Analytics app is a great tool – especially for online business owners.
And it’s never been easier to empower your mobile workforce using apps like Clockin or Hours, which allow you to monitor time spent on a project basis and track how long you have spent in a meeting. If you really want to know how productive you are when you aren’t in the office jump into time tracking apps to gauge billable hours or for more personal self-quantified reasons.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Matt Porter is a marketing consultant at UK-based A1 Comms, a business mobile and communications provider. Connect with @A1CommsLtd on Twitter.
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