Technology is a wonderful thing. Now that just about every imaginable gadget is portable and affordable, your small business doesn’t have to be confined to a rented office or your dining room table. You can create a mobile office and take your work anywhere, with room to spare with the use of mobile broadband in your small business.
There are plenty of advantages to having a fully mobile office. Just a few of them include:
- Cost savings (i.e. the overhead for a fixed office).
- Increased productivity — no more wasted downtime.
- New promotional opportunities, since you can network in person.
- Streamlined business processes, with everything in one place.
So how do you create the perfect mobile office? Below are the basic considerations for finding the right mix of technology to serve your small business on the go.
How to Create a Mobile Office for Your Small Business
Command Central: Laptop or Tablet?
Smartphones have come a long way in a short time, with bigger screens and more capabilities, but they’re still not enough to power your mobile office alone. You’ll need either a laptop or a tablet PC.
The right choice depends on your business and your daily activities. If you do a lot of typing and document creation, it’s best to go with a laptop. Otherwise, you may be able to work with a smaller, lighter tablet. A tablet is also a good choice because it frees up your business by allowing you to do things your laptop can’t, such as using apps for paying and receiving invoices.
Of course, you’ll still need a primary machine for storage, backups and heavy projects, but choosing the right mobile computer means you won’t have to spend most of your working time chained to a desk.
Staying Connected When Hot Spots Get Cold
There are more WiFi hot spots than ever but they never seem to be around when you need them. Additionally, public Internet access is never secure. For your mobile office, you’ll need a reliable, private connection for your laptop or tablet.
If you don’t spend much time online, you can use prepaid wireless Internet cards that run on 3G or 4G mobile networks. For businesses that require heavy Internet use, there are long-term solutions like high-speed mobile access cards with data plans similar to smartphones. You can also get a MiFi, a compact wireless router that acts as a portable, personal hot spot.
Building Your Virtual File Cabinets
Going mobile means a mostly paperless office, so you’ll need a place to store your virtual files — preferably with anywhere access, so you can share files between your primary machine, command center and smartphone.
There are plenty of cloud storage solutions to help with that. Some are straightforward virtual hard drives, like Box.com and Dropbox. Others come bundled with cloud software you’re likely to use anyway, such as Microsoft’s Office 365 and Intuit’s Online Plus programs, QuickBooks and Payroll.
Extras: Peripherals and Apps You Might Need
Depending on your business functions, you may need a portable printer, scanner or other peripheral hardware for your mobile office. Whatever you bring along, don’t forget to keep power cords and chargers on hand, and you should also invest in a travel-sized surge protector to protect your equipment.
What apps will you need? In addition to the software you use for your business, you might consider:
- A payment processor like Intuit’s GoPayment or PayPal’s smartphone card swipe device (free for business use).
- A voice recorder app for capturing thoughts and notes when you can’t use your laptop or tablet.
- GPS capabilities for navigating unfamiliar territory.
- A voice and video connection platform like Skype for virtual conference calls.
As a small business owner, you may have dreamed about working from the beach. Technology has made that possible and now you can have a truly mobile office that goes with you anywhere. With a little planning, you’ll be ready to take your show on the road.
Working Mobile Photo via Shutterstock