Basic Steps for Taking Your Business Mobile

Posted on /by Natalie Sisson/ in Business Tools / 8 comments
Nat with iPad on grass

The allure of working online extends well beyond the dream of hanging out in your pajamas and calling your dog your “assistant.” Modern mobile entrepreneurs want to work online so they can live anywhere in the world. That’s why you’re here on my blog right?

Picking your business niche, outsourcing to the right people and finding essentials like a wireless merchant account, are highly individualized, but the basic tools to make your working life totally mobile are now easier than ever to find and use – trust me.

Get Smart with Smartphones and Tablets

According to the latest Pew report released in February 2012, 46 percent of adults in the United States use a smartphone every day, up 11 percent from May 2011 – that’s huge! The younger the user, the more likely they are to be sporting an iPhone or an Android device. In the 19-35 age bracket, market penetration for smartphones is at 60 percent and rising. But actual voice calls account for only 35 percent of the activity generated on these devices.

Mobile entrepreneurs have to get smart with their smartphones, not just to send and receive text and email messages, but also to do everything from send and accept payments to scanning documents and managing inventory. This type of activity is what underlies the rising popularity of devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note, which has a 5.3 inch display, and a host of connected Android tablets with 7 inch screens. Did I hear you say sexy?

Natalie with her trusty iPad

Armed with a tablet and apps like SignMyPad, which is a paperless forms and contracts solution, mobile entrepreneurs can accomplish any “office” task anywhere in the world. The great thing is that in response, hardware makers who once concentrated on making small, “sexy” pocket devices are inching back up and giving people the display real estate they need to work on the go without being tethered to a cumbersome laptop.

Take Off Into the Cloud

Mobile entrepreneurs need to focus on keeping their files in one place — preferably a place that will not be destroyed when the airport security people decide to play football with your laptop. Putting your files in the cloud doesn’t just provide ease of access across multiple devices; it’s also a hedge against disaster. Who among us has not suffered that catastrophic laptop crash?

With apps for the iPhone, iPad, Android devices, BlackBerry, Windows, Mac, Linux, and access via the webpage, Dropbox is easy to use and highly reliable – and pretty much my most used tool when it comes to my business. The basic account is free and can range from 2-18 GB. The Pro 50 plan, as the name suggests, supplies 50 GB of storage for $9.99 a month or $99 a year.

Apply the same cloud concept to email and scheduling. The Google suite of cloud apps is popular for good reason. Log in with your Gmail address and password, and you have access to your mail, a highly functional office suite with cloud storage of documents, and a sophisticated calendar. Just plug your schedule and “to do” list into Google calendar, and get email reminders on any Internet-connected device you’re using about what you need to be doing and where you need to be.

Embrace the Video Conference

Video conferencing technology has changed how people live for both work and play. It is now possible for business partners on opposite coastlines to meet in the “office” every day, not just exchanging email and documents, but discussing projects and collaborating creatively in real time. No matter how advanced our gadgets, nothing can really replace face-to-face work time.

The industry standard is, for the most part, Skype, but don’t discount GChat video conferencing. The image quality isn’t as good, but because it’s built into the broader Google ecosphere, it’s simple for two people to be talking on video and working on the same shared Google document in real time. These tools are allowing productive working relationships to be forged at great distances and are an invaluable asset.

Armed with mobile connected devices, instant access to data and files, and leveraging all venues of communication including the video conference, a mobile entrepreneur literally can work from anywhere. These basic tools fit any business model and are the underpinning of managing your mobile business lifestyle.

Want to find more tools to streamline your business then make sure you check out my Ultimate Toolkit for Entrepreneurs. With over 85 free and paid for tools I’ve personally tested, it’s designed to save you time and money.

  • This toolkit sounds pretty useful. I haven’t really ever tested this before, but I’ll do my research and definitely give this a shot. Thanks for posting. 🙂

    • Natalie

      You’re welcome Abdul. Definitely let me know which tools you start using as they can make a huge difference to your efficiency and peace of mind.

  • Natalie,
    I carry around a 2 terabyte external hard drive with me wherever I go. I’ve just started to migrate things over to drop box because I want to get an ipad or galaxy tab. My tiny smartphone is just to small to do anything on the road.

    I really like the peace of mind knowing that I can access my docs, music, files online anywhere i am and don’t need my laptop.

    • Natalie

      Hi Annie. That’s certainly one way of doing it for sure. I love Dropbox for the storage aspect but still feel you do sometimes need an external hard drive. I am getting a Mac Air soon and also have an iPad. Between them all I intend to clean up some files and continually dump out what I just don’t need anymore memory wise.

  • Hey Natalie! I really enjoyed this post, and it also brings up a question I’ve had since returning from vacation overseas. What do you do to ensure you have reliable Internet connection when abroad?

    I took my laptop, attempting to experiment with a “work-ation,” but the Internet service was so spotty in Spain… Even at Starbucks!!!

    • Natalie

      I am still trying to find the answer for that! I generally try to buy a wireless dongle and data in the country I’m in so I can have the convenience of internet anywhere. This only works well in countries that have that service. Interesting to hear Spain didn’t have great internet as I may be heading there next. There are also some solutions online that offer you the ability to buy their internet in certain countries but haven’t looked into them fully. I feel a blog post coming on! There are more and more people moving towards collaborating on accessing wifi for the greater good so everyone can use available connections. I look forward to that day and am happy to pay for it!

  • Thanks Natalie for the info and it’s nice to know of someone who’s actually making it happen.

    If technology wasn’t confusing enough in a fixed environment, now it’s mobile. I sure do love Dropbox. It’s a very cool tool.

    We’ve got one kid left at home so maybe when she’s out in a couple of yrs, I can get more mobile.

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