mobile devices

By Rieva Lesonsky

Are you looking for a way to save time, save money and increase productivity at your small business? If so, look no further than your local cellular store, where buying a smartphone and/or tablet could be the fastest way to pump up your business volume.

A new survey, the 2014 AT&T-SBE Council Small Business Technology Poll, reports small business owners who use smartphones are saving a collective 1.24 billion hours and $32.3 billion annually. Tablets save entrepreneurs some 754.2 million hours and $19.6 billion a year. That’s time you could be putting back into growing your business.

Here’s some more of what the survey found:

A whopping 94 percent of small business owners use smartphones to conduct business, up from 85 percent last year. Smartphones are enabling small business owners to get more done even when not in the office. Although the average small business is open only 5.7 days a week, almost half of small business owners who own smartphones use them to do business 7 days a week.

More than half of small business owners use mobile applications for business. Ninety-one percent say mobile apps save them time and two-thirds say they save money—an average of $500 a month, or $6,000 annually. The average small business owner uses three to four apps on a regular basis; the apps used most often are GPS/navigation, remote document access, travel planning and banking/financial management.

Tablets are not yet as ubiquitous in business as smartphones, but they have a lot of customer-facing uses. For example, you can use them for product demonstrations, to take orders at restaurants, to have customers read proposals or sign contracts and more. Of course, you can also use them for just about any purpose you’d use a laptop—only they’re a lot easier to tote around.

I know for me, simply having a smartphone has enabled me to be more responsive to prospects and customers; use downtime to keep up on social media; and, of course, get directions to meetings, conferences and presentations so I’m never lost.

How can mobile devices help your small business? Here are just a few ideas:

  • Equip delivery drivers with smartphones so they can use GPS to not only route their deliveries but also check current traffic conditions. They can also get route assignments via text, use timecard apps to clock in and out remotely and text customers or clients of their impending arrival time.
  • Use tablet computers to display photos or videos to clients or customers. A landscaper or construction company, for example, can show clients how their backyard or new addition might look right in the yard—a lot easier than setting up a laptop.
  • Use mobile apps to scan receipts and manage expenses, invoice customers and accept payments on the road so you can keep your cash flow under control no matter where you are.

Have you found other uses for mobile devices that help you run your business better?