Gone are the days when business meant being chained to a desk or cubicle. Work is no longer a place you go, but a thing you do. And as the world of work changes, and people prioritise freedom and flexibility over job security, the idea of working remotely is rapidly increasing in popularity.
With the rise of accessible and affordable technology, it’s now easier than ever for small business owners to make their place of work mobile.
It’s certainly a popular phenomenon in Australia, with research from mobile invoicing app Invoice2go revealing that 55% of Aussie small business owners run their businesses entirely from their smartphone. So, with a smartphone the only necessity for some business owners and fewer constraints tying you to that desk or cubicle, why not make 2020 the year that you explore remotely?
Befriend the cloud
While the idea of taking your small business on the road might sound exciting, it’s important to plan ahead to ensure everything runs smoothly. Sure, working from a beach sounds appealing, but it’s only viable if you have everything you need, whenever you need it.
Staying connected with the people that matter – your clients and customers – is important, and befriending the cloud is a great way to access everything you need, wherever you are.
Whether you work in a small business with other people and need to share documents, or even if you’re running a solo operation, it’s a good idea to use an online storage platform that enables you to store, search for, and share documents from any device, wherever you are.
Dropbox Business, for example, is a file sharing and cloud storage solution that offers an easy way to share information and collaborate on the same documents in real-time. This saves you the precious hours spent flicking documents back and forth between your team or clients, with changes often lost in transition.
Many small businesses are already making the most of an array of social media platforms. While this is a fantastic way to maximise your brand’s visibility, managing multiple social media channels can be time consuming, and quite frankly, overwhelming – particularly when you’re out of the office.
Plus, let’s face it, as a small business, hiring a social media manager is probably out of the question. If you know you’re going to be somewhere without internet for a couple of days, tools such as Hootsuite allow you to plan ahead and automate your social media marketing efforts in advance from a single dashboard, meaning you can set then forget.
Invoice, expense & make appointments like a pro
Even when working remotely, it’s just as important to ensure your cash flow remains consistent and reliable. After all, it’s your income that facilitates your ability to work remotely.
Making the switch from physical, paper invoices and expense trackers to digital app-based equivalents is one way to manage your finances electronically and in real-time, meaning you can continue operating efficiently with minimal resources. For instance, small business tech tools such as Invoice2go help you to stay in charge of your finances, no matter where you might be.
Chasing up overdue payments and invoices is one of the biggest bugbears for small business owners, particularly if you’re not working normal hours or are in a different timezone while on the road.
To save time on the paper trail, set up automated follow-up reminders with Invoice2go to ensure you get paid promptly. You can also easily track expenses, upload receipts, monitor and automate transactions, pull up payment histories and take advantage of powerful reporting tools and statements.
Get your set-up right
Operating remotely means you can ditch the typical office supplies. So forget staplers, paper clips and post-it notes; your equipment needs to be just as versatile and mobile as your new working practice. Headphones, particularly noise-cancelling sets, are a great investment if you’re going to be working in a busy place like a cafe or co-working space.
If you’re working predominantly from a tablet or smartphone, a wireless keyboard and mouse is key to saving you from typing up long documents on a small screen. Wireless connectivity means ease of use on multiple devices, and the lack of cords will save you headaches while storing the gadgets on-the-go.
And don’t forget the wealth of smartphone apps that help you manage every aspect of your business, from tracking your time and dictating voice notes, to liaising with clients and tracking your spending.
Speaking of apps, to keep up with the day-to-day that comes with running a small business, consider using communication platforms that facilitate instant messaging and video calls. Sometimes, email and written messages aren’t sufficient when liaising with stockists, contractors and customers, or when time is of the essence, so access to face-to-face and voice communication tools can be useful.
Applications like Skype and Google Hangouts can be used across many different devices, so you know that if you need it, no matter where you might be, you’ll be able to have clear phone and video calls without issue.
If you’re making the choice to do some or all of your work remotely in 2020, it’s important to ensure you have all the necessary tools and resources on board so that you can stay connected and keep your business running smoothly. But once you’re prepared, it’s time to get on the road and see where your business can take you this year!
Chris Strode is the founder of Invoice2go, the mobile invoicing app that gives small businesses and contractors control over their time and business. As a small business owner from a family of tradespeople, Chris created Invoice2go out of frustration with the lack of simple invoicing options available.