Starting a Business with Just a Smartphone
By Anita Campbell
It might seem a bit surprising it’s absolutely possible to start and run a business from your smartphone. At the very least, you can start a business and run the majority of it from a smartphone and without a computer, from your home.
Imagine for a moment that you don’t have a full-fledged computer, and you can’t afford expensive equipment. That’s not so far fetched, because many budding entrepreneurs have minimal resources, yet most of us have a smartphone these days.
Or perhaps you simply love the idea of being a mobile. You want the freedom that comes with running a business from your phone.
With the right idea and the right mobile tools, you can run a business without investing in tons of expensive equipment or tying your business to one specific location.
Here are some tips for starting a business from your smartphone.
Start with a “phone friendly” business model
This part is essential.
Certain types of businesses naturally lend themselves to being run on mobile devices, whereas others may present more challenges.
For instance, you probably cannot start a full-service web design firm with just a smartphone. You’d need a desktop computer and some professional software in order to really get the job done. However, if you want to develop mobile apps, there are tools available for you to do that on a mobile device.
Some other businesses that you could potentially start with just a smartphone include:
• Social media marketing
• Event planning
• mCommerce (mobile commerce)
• Personal shopping
Think also about business professionals who don’t require a computer or a place of business that customers visit, and require only a small amount of supplies and equipment. Types of businesses include handymen, maid service, gutter cleaning, home decorator, seamstress, and car detailing, to name a few. These are still low cost businesses to start and run, and it’s not absolutely necessary they have a computer; instead, they can rely on a smartphone. You can often get leads through home-services sites, online yellow pages, social media, or word of mouth, directly to your phone—and you can work out of your home or by visiting clients at their residences or places of business. Be sure to check on any licensing and other requirements in your locale.
Get the right apps
A smartphone is made more powerful and versatile by choosing and using the right software apps.
For some businesses, you definitely will need add-on apps. For example, to run an mCommerce business (the term “mCommerce” stands for a mobile based eCommerce business), you will need a commerce application that is mobile friendly, and a fulfillment or drop ship service. And as a writer, it might be possible to type by hand on your smartphone’s on-screen keyboard, but wouldn’t it be so much better to use a voice transcription app of some kind?
Also, you will need basic apps necessary to run a business today. For example, you might need a note taking app to keep track of information and organize tasks. You probably will need some kind of expense tracking, invoicing, and/or accounting software app to keep your books straight and get paid. And many businesses could use a cloud project management app, especially for businesses like event planning where organization skills are central to daily execution.
Master mobile communication
Communication with team members, customers, or potential clients is an essential part of running any business, whether you have tons of expensive equipment or just a smartphone to work with.
You’re going to have to work around the limitations of a small keyboard.
Email is one of the most popular communication methods for mobile professionals. While a quick response with some abbreviations or spelling errors might be okay if you’re sending a quick message to your business partner, that’s unlikely to go over well with clients or customers. So, if you’re communicating with clients or anyone who might expect a detailed response, you need to take the time to communicate in a way that’s satisfactory. And if you use a voice app to dictate responses, be sure to review the communications for accuracy before hitting “send.”
Consider storing canned responses so you don’t have to always fully type out long emails.
You can also shore up your mobile communication strategy with apps like Google Hangouts, Skype, or Apple FaceTime that let you communicate with others on other devices through voice, video, or text chat.
Being active on social media is an essential activity for a lot of businesses, regardless of whether or not they’re run on smartphones. But luckily for mobile business owners, most popular social platforms have comprehensive mobile apps to make this function fairly straightforward.
In fact, some social apps like Instagram and Snapchat are only really available for full use on mobile devices. So, if you’re running a business on your smartphone, take full advantage of those social platforms by using them to showcase your social media strategy, branding, and marketing from anywhere.
Back up important data
While smartphones can be great business tools, many aren’t known for having enough storage space. And what space you have may be eaten up by adding multiple apps. If you’re running a business, you’re going to need a place to store all of your important documents, images, videos, and other files.
For ample storage, add a large data card, but one flexible and secure option is to expand your data storage to a secure cloud storage app. That way, even if your smartphone drops into the river or is lost, your important business files will still be available and protected.
Some smartphone companies, including Apple and Samsung, have some cloud storage options that you can use for certain items. But you might also explore apps like Dropbox, OneDrive, or Google Drive to store some of your important items in the cloud. With these services, you can also potentially share items with team members using other mobile devices.
About Anita Campbell, Small Business Administration guest blogger: My name is Anita Campbell. I run online communities and information websites reaching over six million small business owners, stakeholders, and entrepreneurs annually, including Small Business Trends, a daily publication about small business issues, and BizSugar.com, a small business social media site.
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