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.
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 as well as our round-up of the best iPhone email offerings.
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, and if you’re a Google+ user, there’s a little something for that, 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 or these Facebook scheduling services, some of which are mobile-friendly.
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 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 or PayPal Here to swipe credit cards to collect payments, or they can even use the PayPal app 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).
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.
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.
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.