Is it really possible to run your business from anywhere? A look at the lifestyle benefits and tools embraced by today's mobile entrepreneurs
It's an amazing time to be an entrepreneur. Already free to set your own schedules, modern technology sweetens the deal to give you even more freedom and flexibility. But what's it really like to be a mobile worker, and which tools help can help you to achieve that happy state?
Until recently, you were tied to an office because that's where businesses kept the computers, the telephones, the files, the desks and the servers. It's also where people met to talk, collaborate and update. Now you can do all of those things away from the office. Changing technology – and changing attitudes about work – is creating fresh new opportunities to truly work however you like.
Visit any coffee shop today and you'll notice a mobile worker. It's that smiling person tucked into a prized window table, sipping a latte and listening to headphone music while cheerfully typing away on a sleek notebook. These entrepreneurs enjoy working out-of-office at their preferred location.
You might also spot a mobile worker at your kid's swim class. Watch for a father texting away on his mobile phone, likely responding to a customer inquiry or keeping in touch with his team. His mobile phone allows him to get work done and watch his daughter take her first standing dive.
It's all about freedom, flexibility and simplicity. For most entrepreneurs, it's also about affordability and finding tools and resources within a small business budget. Explore these mobile technologies to take your work with you.
- Smartphone. Like having a computer in your pocket, today's smartphones let you work online, send emails or texts, access files and place calls. Investing in a good smartphone is wise move for any mobile worker because it enables the user to perform most small business functions.
- Tablet. An excellent device for presentations, video conferencing and across-the-table collaboration. Interestingly, many small businesses are adopting a bring-your-own-device to work policy for employees.
- Notebook computer. While smartphones and tablets can do a lot, there are times when you want a full-sized keyboard and screen. Use your notebook to write, design, compose and calculate.
- Wireless internet key. Simply plug it into your notebook to gain online access with super-fast speeds.
Keep it in the cloud
- Cloud storage services. Explore Dropbox or Google Docs to store and share your files online.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Keep track of your customer and prospect communications and monitor the sales pipeline with cloud-based platforms such as Salesforce.
- Collaborate online. Basecamp is web-based project collaboration tool designed for individuals or teams. You can post and share documents, communicate updates and manage to-do lists.
- Online payments. While PayPal will charge you a few dollars when you withdraw money, it's incredibly easy to use and very small business friendly. It allows you to accept credit card payments from your customers and make purchases online. For an alternative choice, check out Google Wallet.
- Meetings. Popular online meeting platforms include GoToMeeting or WebEx – ideal for web conferencing, video conferencing or running training events.
- Office 365. This cloud-based subscription service lets business owners keep everything up to date with anywhere access to popular Microsoft products such as Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint and Word.
Beyond the benefits of flexibility and freedom, many mobile workers also report increased productivity. Away from the distractions of a traditional office environment (“How was your weekend, Fred?”), a mobile entrepreneur can really dig into the work they already love doing.