Only a few years ago, if you wanted to start a business, you needed a physical office space or store, as well as office equipment that often included an expensive computer and software, a printer, copier, and a dedicated phone line. However, with stronger compute power, faster speeds and more work being done on the cloud, it’s now possible to run your business from a device you carry with you every day and are likely using to read this article right now — your smartphone.While desktop computers and laptops are still go-to productivity tools for many small businesses, the rise of cloud-based, mobile apps can help you stay on top of business operations using your mobile phone.
A smartphone with the right specifications and apps can be the difference-maker when it comes to staying profitable and productive, especially if you’re often on the move. Constantly meeting with clients, travelling to and from work, and trying to balance this with personal and family needs can be tough. That’s why we’ve created this list of 6 tips to increase your work flexibility and help you run your business from your smartphone.
1. Ask for a separate work phone
Requesting a separate phone for work can improve your work-life balance and help set communication guidelines. Using two devices can also decrease security issues regarding access to business documents on personal devices, and vice versa. Trying to use a smartphone to run your business operations, while also using it for personal calls, can be a door for many distractions.
You can reduce the likelihood of distractions by keeping personal calls and non-work apps away from your workspace by using two different smartphones for business and personal use.
2. Keep your setup simple
There is a wide range of productivity apps available, with most of them offering ways to improve your workflow. However, you must install apps you actually need and avoid getting carried away in ‘perceived’ productivity. Many business owners will want to download a slew of apps to fix a variety of issues.
Although this may seem beneficial, it can actually lead to greater distractions and less storage space on your phone, slowing down operations. This will make running your business from your smartphone more difficult and could cause more issues than it solves. Therefore, you should only download the apps you need. You should also optimise your home screen and organise your apps, so you have access to the ones you use the most. You are also less likely to scroll aimlessly on social media if you keep other non-work apps off the home screen.
3. Install apps you can use across platforms
When installing apps on your smartphone that you don’t already use, look for productivity apps that have a desktop version. This means you can access documents or notes across platforms. Many office staples such as Office 365, Slack and Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), all have smartphone versions of their apps.
These mobile-friendly options provide the flexibility to work on the go. You can see the changes you make on your smartphone app automatically updated in real time on the desktop versions. A remote desktop app like LogMeIn can also be useful when you need access to a desktop. Using a remote desktop can reduce the number of times you put something off because you are missing a file.
4. Make sure you control access to your smartphone
It’s important to keep security in mind when working from your smartphone. As your business is now based on your phone, you need to take all the necessary precautions. This could include researching what security features are available on your specific phone. It would help if you also used passwords for your phone, in addition to separate passwords for applications.
Consider using more sophisticated measures than the name of your family pet or birthdate when deciding on a password. As the business owner, you also control who can access your data. Make sure to turn off access to employees once they leave. Also, ensure everyone who works on a business app on their phone is using a password-protected device.
Be cautious when storing sensitive data on the device and try to avoid crossover between work and personal accounts and devices where possible.
5. Set boundaries for work
While smartphones can make contacting others easier, you need to set communication guidelines. Otherwise, it can be easy to overload yourself. Create policies, so you don’t receive double-up messages from multiple communication channels. For example, use calls for urgent matters, texts for fast responses, emails for formal requests, Google Calendar for scheduling and a collaborative tool like Slack for non-urgent messages.
It’s also crucial you take phone breaks during the workday to avoid burnout. Keep track of your screen time and know when to turn off your phone. Resist the temptation to check your phone all the time and give yourself time for deep work. Setting aside device-free time is the key to work-life balance. If you’re carrying your business in your pocket then you never leave the office, so make sure you schedule in downtime.
6. Use voice technology to save time
Using Google Voice, Siri, or a voicemail assistant like Vxt, you can complete small tasks quickly. With Vxt Notes, you can use voice dictation to record short spoken notes. These are immediately transcribed to text and easily shareable. Most people speak faster than they can write, which can save you loads of time in the long run.
You can also use Vxt to stay on top of your voicemail and the many time-consuming tasks associated with running your business. For example, Vxt recently announced integrations with Customer Relationship Management solution apps such as Pipedrive, Hubspot, Asana and Salesforce. Vxt Web also offers integrations with Slack, as well as payment tools like Zapier and Integromat. Using a voicemail assistant means you can manage your missed calls, increase your responsiveness, and save loads of time.
Running your business from a smartphone is now a reality for most business owners. This comes with its own set of challenges, however, if you use the strategies above then you will find it easier to avoid distractions and maximise productivity. With just a few core apps you can make sales, send invoices, run payroll, process payments, manage your website and conduct a range of marketing research. These tips will help you run and manage your business all through the device you have in your pocket.*Note: This article was originally published in Noteworthy here.