Currently, 37% of South Africans own a smartphone.
These pocket-sized devices are replacing cameras, landlines and even laptops – no need to carry around your computer when you can access the internet from your phone. In fact, smartphone users typically spend about three hours a day accessing the internet from their phones.
This begs the question: can you run your entire business from your smartphone?
Before you discard your old laptop, check for software compatibility. If you still use desktop software or Excel spreadsheets to manage your accounting, for example, you’ll struggle to run your business from your smartphone. Any work you do, or updates you make from your phone, will only be saved to that phone. You won’t be able to access your changes from any other device – nor will your colleagues be able to see what you’ve done.
However, if you use cloud software and programmes that feature mobile apps, running your business from your smartphone is a viable option.
Cloud software enables you to work from anywhere at any time, all you need is an internet connection. What’s more, the information can be accessed from any device by all authorised users.
If you’re a small business owner, you’re perfectly placed to adopt a mobile-only approach. Smaller, younger businesses are typically more agile than large, established companies with decades of important information saved on individual desktop computers.
There are many benefits to running your business from your smartphone. These include:
If you operate your business from your smartphone, you can work from anywhere – as long as there is wi-fi or 3G connectivity. Your ‘office’ can be the coffee shop, the park, or the beach café; you are not bound to a specific set of four walls.
2. There’s an app for everything
There really is an app for everything these days. Your smartphone can give you easy access to almost any business tool you can think of. Need to manage your accounting while you queue for your morning latte? No problem. Want to track your employees’ time or assign them work as you catch an Uber to your next meeting? There are mobile apps for that too.
One of the main characteristics of cloud software is that it’s really easy to share information between people and devices. This makes collaboration a dream. Teams can work on various projects with complete transparency. You can see who has done what and when they did it. This helps avoid the creation of duplicate work – and ensures that everyone is working from the latest version.
4. Built-in personal assistants
Digital personal assistants like Siri or Cortana make running a business from your smartphone even more appealing. You no longer have to write things down to remember them – simply speak to Siri and it’s all recorded for you to review later.
1. It’s harder to switch off
Your mobile phone follows you wherever you go. It’s with you from the moment you wake up and stays by your side all day. When your business is run from your smartphone, it’s harder to switch off at home or on holiday. It’s all too easy to keep working 24/7 and not have any time to relax and recharge. To overcome this, you have to set clear boundaries between work and non-working hours.
2. Less human interaction
As easy as it is to quickly type a WhatsApp message to a customer, it’s often far more productive to simply call them. When all business interactions are run from apps, you miss out on face-to-face communications with your customers and employees. Technology can’t replace the importance of human interaction, so make sure you make time to speak to people.
That said, the pros of running a business from a mobile device far outweigh the cons. With an internet connection, and great cloud software, you and your team can access all your company and customer information from multiple devices – that way you can run your business from your smartphone when you’re on-the-go, and from your laptop when you’re in the office.
About the author: Gary Turner is Managing Director, EMEA of Xero, cloud accounting software for SMEs.