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Mobiles changing small businesses for the better

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: mobile technology is the way forward.

Even now in 2015, far too many businesses aren't utilising the benefits of mobile technology. The conventional wisdom for business owners which then trickles down to their staff is that business happens behind desks, on desktops or laptops, in cosy air-conditioned offices. There’s one business network, and it is bound by four walls and, if you’re lucky, a skylight or a nice view.

In 2015, such a mentality is beyond ridiculous.

Mobile tech statistics

Let’s take a look at some stats. The new Intuit Australian Small Business Mobile examined the habits of 501 small businesses in Australia. Of those surveyed, 90% said that mobile devices had had a positive effect on their business. 63% of small business owners using mobile devices said that such technology has saved them a great deal of time, the average being nine working weeks per year. Those reporting an increase in revenue by accessing business information on mobile reported average revenue growth of over 10%. 70% report improved productivity rates. 52% say they can respond to customers much faster. 41% reported improved customer service. Need I go on?

In marketing speak, it seems that Gen Y are leading the way in terms of utilising mobile technology for what it’s worth. For things like tracking and logging expenses, time tracking, and project management, gen Y use mobile technology twice as much as their more senior counterparts. In terms of those who say they’re using mobile devices to their full potential, gen Y win out again, with 42% claiming this to be the case; only 26% of the other age groups made this claim.

Of course, for some, the idea of shifting toward a more mobile friendly business landscape is frightening. Change is difficult. And it’s especially difficult when change revolves around technology.

Technological advances occur at an exponential rate. It wasn’t that long ago that the most exciting thing about our mobile phones was that game Snake. Today, smartphones can send pictures and videos, watch movies, play 3D games – they can do most things a modern laptop can do. Change has already happened.

The shift to mobile

When you set that pesky lamenting fear aside, this is the perfect reason business owners should stop gawking at this word “mobile” with such trepidation and hostility and instead embrace it. On its arrival, welcome it with open arms and a fresh bowl of Gazpacho soup, and ask it how it’s been going. Then listen carefully. Because it’s been on some far out adventures, and it’s got a lot to tell you.

For one thing, who knew that mobile phones can act as POS platforms? Well if you didn’t, check this out. It’s an app called Square, and that’s exactly what it does: It transforms your smartphone into a quick and simple credit card processor. All you have to do is make an account, then Square will send you a little attachment that connects straight into your phone, allowing you to take credit card payments wherever you are. It even comes with some pretty cool report analytics, giving you a little insight into how well your mobile money swiping is working.

For another – apps, apps, apps. If you want your phone to do something, there’s probably an app that will let you do it. And better? It’s probably free. To list but a few of the more popular apps that are making business owners jump with joy, you've got the likes of Evernote, Pages, and Dropbox. But don't let their lack of a price-tag fool you. They work wonders for business owners all around the world by increasing efficiency and productivity, allowing people to get more done while they're on the go.

We recently wrote an article about a lawyer who does nearly all of his work from his tablet and smartphone. He’s a guy who dislikes offices and really likes autonomy; the freedom that working mobile gives his life, he says, is invaluable. A crazy concept – a lawyer working almost totally mobile, that is – but it’s true.

There’s no need to go that far, of course. Desktops and laptops still serve their purpose. Fancy office walls and spacious desks, indeed, still serve and have a purpose. The point to take, however, is that a lot of business can be done mobile, not just from a laptop, or even a tablet, but from that bulky, shiny thing in your pocket with which you make phone calls.

There’s no right or wrong way to utilise mobile devices for business either. Make the most of the available apps out there, or develop an SMS campaign to engage customers while they and you are on the go, or simply give your employees more flexibility to manage social media accounts and emails while they’re out of the office, perhaps even out of hours. It doesn’t really matter what or how you’re using mobile, so long as it's working for you.