How to create a mobile office for your small business
(NC) Mobile technologies like tablets and smartphones are giving small-business owners the opportunity to run their companies without a permanent office. Working remotely saves overhead costs and offers tremendous flexibility in scheduling. But running a business without a fixed location requires some planning. Here are some tips to get you started:
Get a reliable and secure Internet connection
Free Wi-Fi is tempting but it's not going to cut it. Free access points are not reliable enough for urgent or timely business matters, and Wi-Fi hotspots are not always secure. Using a hotspot with a business computer can put your data and sensitive information at risk.
Rogers Communications tells us that there are several alternatives to free Wi-Fi hotspots, ranging from Rocket hubs (a compact wireless router) that can give you online access for up to 15 wireless devices, to Internet sticks that plug into the USB port of your computer and provide high-speed access for a single laptop. You can purchase the device and wireless plan from a mobile phone provider. Whichever option you choose, make sure you protect your data by using an encrypted password.
Invest in essential devices When managing a company without an office, you are only as productive as the tools at your disposal. Budget for — and buy — the devices and systems you truly need. In addition to essentials like laptops, smartphones, a tablet and a portable printer may also be necessary to have on hand. For example, you may need to edit a client contract on your laptop in the car and email it out immediately. If you need to take notes in meetings or make quick changes to documents, having a portable keyboard for your tablet could increase your efficiency. And most importantly, having a wireless internet connection – whether it's through an Internet stick or a mobile hotspot, ensures that you're always able to stay in touch with your business and be responsive to your clients.
Find the right software, too Just because you're on the road doesn't mean you can't be productive. Inexpensive apps can help you get your work done on your smartphone or tablet, wherever your business travels take you. Start with a reliable file-sharing program, such as Dropbox or Evernote — especially if you are collaborating with employees or clients on documents. Other must-haves include a payment-processing app that allows you to manage invoice and payroll.
Lastly, Rogers is pointing to another way to save money. This all-Canadian company has launched a technology makeover contest in five major markets where the winning entry will be awarded new technology for their business, a value of up to $20,000 in cash and prizes. You can learn more about the contest online at rogers.com/smallbusiness.
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