Starting a business from the ground up is an exciting and daunting challenge for both first-time and experienced entrepreneurs. Running a company is a complex undertaking with many requirements, one of which is building a technology infrastructure that supports both connectivity and flexibility. Money can be tight in the early stages of business development, so entrepreneurs sometimes have to be creative, especially when it comes to investing in pricey technology. What many business owners don’t know is that it is possible to build an integrated office, accessible from anywhere, without building a complicated and expensive network. Using the latest wireless technology, it is easier now more than ever to maximize productivity and speedy access to data with a minimal investment of capital.
“An entrepreneur has to wear many hats and coordinate multiple moving parts on the run each day,” said Tom Shaughnessy, director of business marketing for Sprint. “Fortunately, advances in wireless technology can really help small business owners stay connected and coordinate with clients and employees while simultaneously growing the business.” Shaughnessy offers entrepreneurs these 10 tips for building a connected business:
1. Don’t miss important calls
You obviously can’t be at the office and at a sales meeting at the same time. Fortunately, there are services available that allow office calls and voicemail forwarding to your mobile phone, essentially wirelessly integrating your mobile phone and office phone system. Should an important call come to the office line while you are on the road working to grow your business, your wireless phone will ring simultaneously.
2. Don’t limit yourself to desktop Internet access
Staying connected to the Internet doesn’t mean you have to remain anchored to your desktop computer. When you are on the road, Wi-Fi hot spots can be unreliable, so consider investing in a Mobile Broadband card for a laptop that allows you to access the Internet anywhere you have mobile broadband network coverage, enabling you to do business on the run.
3. Never get lost when handling business
With GPS-enabled smart phones, step-by-step driving directions, trip planning and much more are at your fingertips on the road. If you’re a small service business with limited trucks/drivers, maximizing productivity and customer service through GPS is essential.
4. Leave e-mail management to the experts
By having an email provider manage your infrastructure, you can easily outfit your employees with PDAs and the software they need to collaborate with colleagues and interact with customers on the go – all without the hassle of deploying and maintaining costly software systems and servers.
5. Don’t attempt to be a network administration pro
When running a small business, you may have to wear many hats, but you won’t be an expert in all areas. Many services are available that cater to small businesses and offer network administration and installation, which allows the IT guy to work his magic and enables you to focus on growing your business.
6. Connect directly with your wireless phone
If you work in an industry where you need to be in constant contact with your colleagues or clients, consider a phone with walkie-talkie capabilities rather than making multiple calls a day. This feature allows a mobile phone to act as a walkie-talkie, which is much more convenient if making multiple calls a day or coordinating a project in real-time.
7. Have a backup plan for your communications system
If there is a major power outage, your data is vulnerable to being lost as well as productivity being affected. Consider looking into a communications system backup plan that safeguards your voice and data capabilities when disaster strikes. Some plans guarantee full data and voice recovery of your network within two hours.
8. Stay connected to industry news from just about anywhere
To keep up with your competitors, you have to know what’s happening in your industry in real-time. Many new smart phones offer On-Demand web content access with a push of a button allowing you to retrieve customized, up-to-date information regarding industry news, money, sports, weather, and movie times to let you stay up on the latest in your industry or any other interest.
9. Save money by making unlimited calls to your office landline number
If you travel often and need to call your office number multiple times a day, you can burn through daytime or anytime minutes easily. Some wireless plans or additional subscriptions allow you to make unlimited voice calls to a pre-identified landline phone number. If you need to stay connected with the office regularly, consider taking advantage of such a plan.
10. Secure your mobile phone
With the advent of mobile smart phones that allow you to conduct business on the run, protecting data has become more and more important. Consider looking into a data security option for your plan that enables you to password protect and encrypt sensitive files, secure multiple phones of multiple operating systems at a time from one location, and backup any data on your phone. And don’t forget to lock the device so if it is lost or stolen data cannot be accessed. It’s too important for you to take a chance on losing it.
What other suggestions do you have? Leave me a comment.