Running a business from your smartphone
The demands of running a successful modern business often mean having to effectively be “on call” 24/7, so you don’t lose out to your competitors. While in the past this might have meant late nights in the office with only a microwave meal for company, the advent of smartphones has revolutionised how we work, making it easier to run your business from home or even during your daily commute. Here are some hints on how to take full advantage of your smartphone’s business potential.
Getting your work email on your smartphone is pretty straightforward, as all smart devices are set up to receive email. If your business uses Microsoft's Exchange Server, it can be set up on your phone to display Outlook as you would on your laptop. You will need to have Exchange's Outlook Web App (OWA) enabled, which can be a bit tricky, so you may initially need some help from someone in IT.
If you’re using a POP or IMAP-enabled email account (such as Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo! Mail), you can easily set your phone up by selecting your email provider in settings and adding your email address and password. Once email is set up, you should be able to send and receive emails as normal and view attachments such as PDFs, Excel spreadsheets and Word documents.
Now you can receive documents, how do you edit them? Well, Microsoft Office Mobile is now available for iPhone and Android devices (as well as Windows Phone), but you need to have an Office 365 subscription to use it. Office 365 is cloud-based, so it makes accessing your documents really easy.
For Office users without a 365 subscription, both QuickOffice and Documents To Go (available in Google Play and the App Store) let you edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files on your device, and sync with your computer.
For Mac/iPhone users, the iWork applications package for Apple (available in the App Store) allows you to edit all the usual Mac applications, such as Keynote and Numbers, on your iPhone or iPad.
If your business delivers a product or service outside of your office, such as plumbing or DIY, you can use iZettle to take card or cash payments, run sales reports and even print receipts. You can set up your account to include cash drawers and receipt printers, giving customers the option of a printed receipt or via email. All you need to get started is a compatible smartphone, an iZettle account, the iZettle app and a Chip and PIN card reader. We'll give you an iZettle Chip and PIN card reader from £2 a month when you choose a 24-month 4GEE phone plan, or you can buy a card reader that can be used with your existing phone for £39 (ex VAT).
If you work on the road a lot, you really need all of your Outlook contacts on your smartphone. If you update a contact on your phone, it needs to update your desktop, and vice versa. Most smartphones will synchronise contacts, either via an app from one of the mail services like Gmail or Yahoo! Mail, or when syncing your iPhone via iTunes (there's a tick box option in the Tunes Info tab to sync your contacts with Outlook).
One of the major benefits of having a smartphone is instant access to your social media profiles, allowing you to engage with customers, promote your products and services and monitor feedback. Quick responses to messages and posts make a customer feel valued, and help foster goodwill towards your brand. Speedy replies to any negative comments can also help limit any bad PR. If updating your social media channels seems overwhelming, using an app like Hootsuite or TweetDeck means you can check and update all your social media channels at once.