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Ah, the smartphone. This device that many would have you believe can literally do anything. Is it even worthy of being called a mere phone? We have so many apps that can turn it into almost any tool that we need, and the word “phone” seems a bit limiting.

Regardless, can your smartphone really do anything? Furthermore, can you run your business from your smartphone? MakeUseOf wanted to find out, so we nailed down the five main cores of business when it comes to basic operations and we’ve take the smartphone approach to these essential needs. Here’s how they compare.

Communication

talk
The main purpose of your phone is this: communication. Yeah, yeah. There’s your Temple Run toilet high score (which is different than your regular high score), but let’s get to the basis of what Alexander Graham Bell had in mind when he first developed the phone. No, he didn’t envision touch screens, text messages, video chats, and emails, but his initial device was simply directed at helping its users communicate with their voices.

Businesses require communication in many different forms: phone calls, video conferencing, text messaging, emailing… Whoa. Seems like I’m repeating myself here. Rather than using several different devices for all of these forms of communication, you can just use your smartphone to connect with clients and corporate allies. Are there times you might want to sit in front of the computer? Of course.

Do you have to? No.

Granted, your phone is already designed to incorporate calling and texting. On the other hand, you have a few options for emails. Check out these 5 awesome Android email clients 5 Excellent Email Apps For Android, Compared 5 Excellent Email Apps For Android, Compared I recently wrote an article about smartphone addiction and how it can be detrimental if it’s interfering with your everyday life. One of the biggest contributing factors to smartphone addiction is the ability to receive... Read More as well as our round-up of the best iPhone email offerings Are You Using the Best iPhone Email Client? Are You Using the Best iPhone Email Client? The number of iPhone email clients has exploded over the last year, ever since Apple's "no two apps that do the same thing" rule appears to have been retired in favour of common sense. Apple's... Read More .

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Marketing

marketing

Marketing is yet another requirement for a business. Can you do it from your phone? Absolutely. Right off the bat, you have to consider social media marketing. From your phone, you have access to software like the Facebook Pages app, a sea of Twitter apps Can You Run Your Business Purely From Your Smartphone? Can You Run Your Business Purely From Your Smartphone? Read More , and if you’re a Google+ user, there’s a little something for that Can You Run Your Business Purely From Your Smartphone? Can You Run Your Business Purely From Your Smartphone? Read More , too.

One thing I did notice is the difficulty some users may have while purchasing ads on their phone. Facebook’s Pages app allows for the promotion of certain posts, but as far as I can tell, there aren’t many options for purchasing much else. Using Safari on my iPhone also redirected me to the mobile site.

While there is an issue with paid ads on all fronts of social media marketing, you can at least go the easy route and update your followers on a consistent basis. Furthermore, if you have someone handling marketing for you in some form or fashion, all you need to do is to be able to communicate. On the other hand, if you are using social media as much as possible, you may want to consider these few options for scheduling your Twitter posts 6 Free Ways to Schedule Tweets 6 Free Ways to Schedule Tweets Using Twitter is really about the here and now. You find an interesting article, a cool picture, an awesome video, or maybe you just want to share something you’ve just realized or thought of. Either... Read More  or these Facebook scheduling services 5 Free Methods To Schedule Facebook Updates 5 Free Methods To Schedule Facebook Updates At MakeUseOf, we’ve already covered several ways you can schedule Twitter updates, so that even if you’re not at your computer, you can continue to send information, links and thoughts to your followers. The same... Read More , some of which are mobile-friendly.

Scheduling

calendar

Professional meetings, product releases, client appointments – all of these have to be handled on a near constant basis when running a business. Fortunately, with your smartphone, you can do this right from the palm of your hand.

The iPhone’s calendar is a pretty solid contender when it comes to this, and since it integrates across your devices via iCloud, you will never be out of the loop. This is only going to improve with iOS 7, with Apple’s Calendar app receiving a big update in the near future. Likewise, the Google Calendar app is a great option for those of you on Android.

Again, this just goes to show you how much of a wizard device the smartphone is. Typically, you would need to have a physical calendar or planner, but with your smartphone, you can keep everything in one place – not half bad. Furthermore, most smartphones offer the option to take notes about the meeting, a location, participants and even reminders, so you’ve got that going for you, too.

Payments

money

Payments are a very important part of business – actually, it’s the only reason businesses can survive. Fortunately, we now have the ability to collect payments on our phones! Many banks nowadays even allow their users to scan checks using their phone’s camera and upload them (effectively depositing them) using the bank’s specific app – pretty freaking awesome, if you ask me.

Likewise, smartphone users can use Square Square - Mobile Credit Card Processing For The Masses Square - Mobile Credit Card Processing For The Masses Read More  or PayPal Here PayPal Launches "PayPal Here" For Mobile Payments On-The-Go [Updates] PayPal Launches "PayPal Here" For Mobile Payments On-The-Go [Updates] Read More to swipe credit cards to collect payments, or they can even use the PayPal app Use PayPal Mobile To Pay On The Go With Your Paypal Account Use PayPal Mobile To Pay On The Go With Your Paypal Account Since we wrote about 9 tools PayPal users should know about way back in 2008, the online money service now has an app for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry users. PayPal's mobile app may well be... Read More to collect funds without any physical transaction taking place. With PayPal, you can also scan checks like most banks (don’t forget that PayPal tends to take a fee from most deposits).

Bookkeeping

files

Last but not least, I’d say one strong element of business is that of proper bookkeeping. As always, a proper accountant is the best way to go, but sometimes – especially for those of us starting out – there’s the need to take a DIY approach. Fortunately, many apps offer this capability.

In fact, we’ve covered finance management on the iPhone The 3 Best Free Personal Finance Managers For iPhone The 3 Best Free Personal Finance Managers For iPhone Read More , another iOS finance app called ExpenseMagic ExpenseMagic: Human-Powered Expense & Receipt Reporting [iOS] ExpenseMagic: Human-Powered Expense & Receipt Reporting [iOS] Read More and Expensify for tracking expenses on the go Expensify's Mobile and Web Client Duo Makes It The Only Expense Tracker You'll Ever Want To Use Expensify's Mobile and Web Client Duo Makes It The Only Expense Tracker You'll Ever Want To Use A while ago, I was searching for a dependable expense tracker and budget planner. Presumably, a mobile app would be the answer, since it's more convenient to record daily spendings on the go, right after... Read More .

While some of these are a bit more personal-spending focused, they are still great for small businesses – especially sole proprietorships or single-member LLCs. Practical? Yes. However, it may just be that sitting in front of a spreadsheet is the best way to get things done.

The Verdict…

So, can you really run your business purely from your smartphone? Technically, yes you can. We’ve covered that a smartphone fulfills all these needs: communication, marketing, scheduling, payments, and bookkeeping. Does this mean that it does it better than any other traditional tool? No, not necessarily. Just because you can do it doesn’t mean it’s the best way, but it also doesn’t mean it’s a bad way, either.

If you are just starting out, then I say go for it when it comes to using your smartphone to run your business. The only true obstacle I can see is the issue of mixing your personal life with your business life, but we all have to do things like this at some time or another.

Do you run your business from your smartphone? Do you recommend not running your business with your smartphone? Are you okay with it? Let us know what you think, below.

Image Credits: Yutaka Tsutanox1kilma, The Cleveland Kid, Joe Lanman, epSos .de, Brian Wolfe

  1. Chinarut
    October 1, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    as someone who has gone into the habit of "bed computing" due to a bum back, it definitely is possible. though during an experiment I ran to create a simplified Chrome user on Mac OS X to see how feasible it would be to move to a Chromebook - much better than 5 years ago but as a knowledge worker, im still busting out desktop versions of apps like TheBrain, Evernote to do massive refactoring and use features not available on mobile clients. I even find myself on the desktop web version of Mindjet to review all my projects on a weekly basis - I'm not too fond of the mobile client actually... overall, can I do most of what I want on my iPhone, yes. have I reduced the # of apps I depend on, absolutely - Chrome, TheBrain, Evernote are the 3 apps the remain in my dock!

  2. AntLion
    August 27, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Smart phone s a misnomer. These things are not phones, but the Personal digital assistant gadget that we have been reading about in sifi for years. My old flip phone is a much better phone. My ten year old Cannon is a better camera, My desktop is a better computer - but the smartphone does all of these and and more. Possibly not quite as good, but it's always in my pocket. They are getting better every few months and I expect they will soon start exceeding the capability of the gadgets they are emulating. As for business use - currently I could not see actually running the entire business with one, but in the foreseeable future - very possible. For now though, they are tools that complement my other business tools

  3. Abid M
    August 27, 2013 at 4:32 am

    I am not a Business man but I can say that Smartphone helps to run your communication from anywhere.. As a System Administrator I can monitory my whole network with my Smartphone and can take remote too. It helps me lot through my work hours and from home too.

  4. George Hilbert
    August 27, 2013 at 2:51 am

    To paraphrase "Jurassic Park", "Just because you CAN, does not necessarily mean that you SHOULD"...Running a business is serious "business"...You need serious and dependable tools that are compatible with tools used by your customers and vendors. Can a smartphone communicate with an Oracle database? Can it transmit and receive sample blueprints and prototypes in AutoCad format? Perhaps you can run a candy store (still doubtful) or some other very small business with only a phone. But still, with all the great tools out there, why would you. No one runs a business just to prove a point. That is what this would amount to.

    • dragonmouth
      August 27, 2013 at 9:03 pm

      But we are SOOOOO in love with our smart phones! :P

    • Anonymous
      January 6, 2015 at 7:00 pm

      Yes a smartphone can communicate with oracle via Citrix reliever, and yes it can open blueprints and cad drawing via autocad 360. But like you said doesn't mean you should. Smartphones these days are as limited as they once where.

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