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Technology - Jul 24, 2017

Ditching the Desk – Going Mobile

Many entrepreneurs are making their offices mobile with apps and online services. But some business owners still hesitate to join the mobile tribe. A recent report from Intuit looked at appification and recent trends in mobile technology for business. We spoke with Nunzio Presta, CEO of a digital business himself, for insights into why startups should embrace mobile technology.

If you’re building a small business, there’s an unspoken understanding that while the title of CEO is supposed to mean “chief executive officer,” it actually means “chief everything officer.” Luckily, today’s digital technologies are making it far easier to manage a startup while on the go. Also, using online tools means the bulk of the to-do list doesn’t have to rest solely on the CEO’s shoulders. Everyone on your team can now chip in – even if they’re away from the office – to improve productivity and share the workload.

The 2016 Appification of Small Business Report, a study conducted by Intuit, showed that 68 per cent of small businesses in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia rely on mobile or web-based apps to streamline operations within their businesses.

Canadian entrepreneur Nunzio Presta, CEO of BizON, knows the value of mobility first-hand, especially given his experience during the early stages of building his business. BizON is an online marketplace for founders, entrepreneurs and franchisers to buy and sell businesses.

“I was always on the go, so mobility was very important to me,” says Presta. “My phone and my laptop were – and still are – the core of my day, it's my travelling office. If I had to put a percentage to it, I would say that 95 per cent of my work is done on my phone and/or laptop.”

So many tasks, so easily handled

Presta’s business has grown significantly since those early days, but he says he still uses apps for “literally everything.” In fact, he has a long list of daily tasks for which he uses mobile technology: emailing, banking, scheduling, file sharing, customer service, social selling, monitoring and building website traffic, and analyzing marketing campaigns.

Presta’s heavy use of apps reflects the habits of entrepreneurs globally. Among those who use apps, the Intuit study found 82 per cent use up to six apps to run their businesses.

Improving experiences with better communication

Employees and customers see the benefits when businesses use mobile technologies. Team members can work remotely on projects and check in with managers from practically anywhere. Customers can connect with businesses more quickly and directly, making them feel more in control of the buy-sell experience. For his part, Presta creates weekly transaction reports he can quickly send to his team so everyone understands how the business measures up to key performance indicators and milestones.

A confusing app market

According to the Intuit study, confusion about the whole app environment is a common problem preventing entrepreneurs from going mobile:

41 per cent of business owners say there are too many apps to choose from and they aren’t sure which ones best suit their needs.

Surprisingly, the study also found that cost is an issue. Many entrepreneurs said apps are too expensive. On the surface, that might sound wrong. After all, many consumer apps – games, personal productivity programs and such – are free or very low-priced. But business apps can cost quite a lot more. And for some business owners, too much.

But that doesn’t mean the apps aren’t worth the price. And there are solutions. For instance, you can bundle work-related apps into your business phone plan to save. You might also save if you bundle your Internet and phone plans together. Talk to your providers and compare packages to see which one works best for you.

And if you’re trying to decide which apps suit your needs, ask fellow entrepreneurs for recommendations via LinkedIn groups or other forums, or you can consult product review lists for industry advice.