Mobil apps for small businesses
With the move to mobile devices applications are turning smartphones and tablets into productivity tools for your small business. Need to fax something or scan it? No problem, just take a picture with your phone and send it via email or text. But what other functions can you perform on your mobile device that may be beneficial to your small business? Here are a few mobile apps that are available.
Need to store files but keep them accessible? Dropbox is an app where you can store files in a cloud and easily retrieve them. Dropbox provides 2 Gigabytes free and the app is free as well.
Need to jot notes or ideas? Try Evernote. Again, the app is a cloud based app that allows you to save notes and not only retrieve them later, but allows you to search by keyword or tag.
Need to process a credit or debit card? Apps such as Square allow you to plug in a small swipe device and your mobile phone becomes a credit card processing machine. Several of the apps charge a percentage of the transaction amount and the app and sometimes the dongle are free.
Need to have a virtual meeting? Skype and WebEx allows for virtual meetings. Skype allows for face to face and WebEx gives you the ability to share files so that those you are meeting with can view the files as you review them.
Need to review files created in Office? Docs to Go is a mobile app that allows you to open, Word, Excel and PowerPoint files and even allows you to create Word and Excel documents.
Too many passwords to remember? Password Keeper and other applications like it have the ability to keep user id's, passwords and even the website url giving people the ability to store all their passwords in one application. So instead of trying to remember all your passwords or having a list, you only need one password, the one to get into the password keeper app.
With mobile technologies capacity continuing to grow the mobile platform will have continue to see newer and better applications that can help with running a small business.
Technology has made it easy to save and access our information. We are instantly connected through our mobile and other devices. The new technology makes it easier to manager and run our businesses and to provide goods and services to our customers.
But what happens when you lose your device or it is stolen from you? Suddenly anyone with your device can access your small businesses information. Securing your business devices is important. With the work that you do for your small business and the information that is accessed your devices can become a treasure trove for hackers and thieves. What are some things you can so to protect your information?
Technology is changing so quickly that it is changing how we communicate, how we get business, and how we do business. The proof was at the last development breakfast held by the South Chamber and a recent Tech 101 at the Plaza Club.
I am a business person, not a techie, but I try to keep up with what is going on with technology since it can change the landscape so quickly. Changing landscapes can have a dramatic impact to our businesses and if we don't try to at least understand it, we may be come victims of it.
Any business can advertise on Google's search engine. Ads can be set up and target web surfers in San Antonio, Texas or the U.S. Cloud technology allows for files to be stored offsite and accessed anywhere. Some website providers allow for self service with multiple widgets so that small modifications or wholesale changes to a website can be make quickly.
We have made use of some of this technology and it has provided tremendous advantages both operationally and financially and has helped us to successfully service our clients needs.
And the trend will continue towards more mobile computing and self service applications. Processing will occur and software (Office 365) will reside in the cloud and our phones will be become more than our gateway to computing needs. And more innovations are still coming like 3D printers.
While some may see technology as a challenge, it is really an opportunity that can help small business gain an edge or make it easier for entrepreneurs to start their own enterprises.
Improving a process
Some people assume that technology can improve any process that is inefficient or broken. While technology can be a great tool it is not always a silver bullet. The process has to be effective. If the process is producing errors or poor quality end products, technology may only help you make errors faster.
Take a power saw. A power saw will allow me to cut boards in less time with less effort on my part as compared to a hand saw. But the power saw will not prevent me from cutting a board short. I have to understand what the board is for, how long it has to be, and the angle of the cut. If not I will waste a lot of time and lumber trying to make one cut.
To improve a process you can follow the DMAIC model.
Square Watermelon Lesson
How many of you have seen the story of the lessons of the square watermelon? It is difficult to trace the original author of the article but I have seen this several times on various blogs and websites.
The article does bring to mind my own experiences in providing solutions when I was a staff employee for large businesses. It is very relevant and provides a methodology and thinking that is critical to creating solutions to business questions or needs.
The story goes as follows; Japanese grocery stores had a problem, they are smaller and do not have large amounts of real estate. You would be hard pressed to find the large super stores that the U.S. has throughout the country. Watermelons took up a great deal of space, space that the Japanese grocery stores did not have. Most individuals would tell the stores that watermelons are round and there is nothing that can be done about it. But a few Japanese farmers asked the question, if stores want a square watermelon, How can we provide one?
The answer came from out of the box thinking….or shall we say into a box thinking. It turned out the solution was a simple one, grow the watermelon inside of a square box. When the watermelon was still small they were placed inside of a box and as they grew they took the shape of the square box.
The solution not only made the grocers happy but it made consumers happy. It became easier and cost effective for grocers to ship watermelons and consumers found that the square watermelons took less space in their refrigerators which are smaller than ones in the U.S.But if we look very carefully, there are lessons in the story and some simple takeaways that anyone can apply to any part of their lives, not just business.
Don’t assume: Because people have seen watermelons in only one shape they automatically assumed that you cannot make a square watermelon. How many things do we do in our lives because we assume that there is no other way to do it or that it is impossible to do it any other way? How many things could be accomplished in your business if you did not assume that they are impossible?
Question habits: The best way to deal with assumptions is to question your habits. Why are we doing it this way? What if….? How can we….? If we begin to question the reasons and processes behind what we do or what we carry out it is the first steps to finding a better solution or a creative solution.
Be creative: This takes some work. Some individuals don’t have time or don’t understand the creative process. Look at the question from all angles. In the story above, some people viewed the question as one of how to genetically grow a square watermelon. Don’t over think the question or solution and no matter how off the wall a thought for a solution may be throw it out there. How many people would have thought that placing a growing watermelon into a square box and letting it grow that way was way out there?
Look for a better way: You should always have a mind set of how can things be improved. Are there better options? Is there a better solution? Improvements and innovation cannot happen if you’re not always looking for better ways of doing things.
Impossibilities often aren’t: IF you assume something is impossible you will most likely not question it or question if there is a better way. This is the first road block that people usually run into. Yes, there will be trial and error and consistent learning. But never assume that anything is impossible.
As you can see, innovation and improvements come from never assuming that anything is impossible or that anything cannot be improved upon. Applying the above principles to any or all aspects of your life (business or personal) can constantly improve all aspects of your life.