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Posted: June 05, 2012

Eight ways to make the most of mobile

Helping small business do more business

Rob Brenner

From the neighborhood coffee shop whose house blend kick starts our day to the local florist and dry cleaner, the 27.5 million small businesses in this country are fueling U.S. economic growth and account for the majority of jobs.

Not unlike the PC explosion in the 1980s and the Internet revolution in the 1990s, mobile technologies are causing a shift in the way small businesses do business. Increasingly, to spur additional growth, these companies are leveraging these solutions to support the need for always-on, on-the-go connectivity, which helps conduct business outside of the office, access information, connect more quickly with people and improve customer service.

However, unlike their larger enterprise peers, most small businesses do not have access to a traditional IT department. So in addition to their sales, marketing, HR, operations and finance responsibilities, they must use their limited time and resources to attempt to navigate the seemingly limitless world of wireless technologies, plans and solutions.

Many of these customers – whether they are running a computer startup or a food truck, a taxi company or a graphic design firm – merely need an advisor to guide them toward the right mobile technologies to help them lower costs, improve customer service and increase employee productivity. Here are some tips for maximizing wireless investments to grow and transform a small business.

• Look beyond network acronyms and jargon.
Many small businesses don’t understand the alphabet soup of network technology acronyms or the technical specifics regarding the processor embedded in their device. They simply want to know that their device will work and provide value where they do business and they want easy access to data and applications. With its strong nationwide voice and data network, T-Mobile makes it simple: T-Mobile can deliver the high-quality, high-performance connections that can help small businesses grow.

• Look for opportunities to reduce wireless costs.
With at least 25 percent of their time spent on the road and with data needs rapidly increasing, the need for affordable plans is critical. Small businesses should look for opportunities to tailor their wireless plans to their business needs  – from worry-free unlimited options that offer exceptional value, consistent and simple pricing scalability starting at one line to flexible, well-priced pooling plans that start at two lines. For both domestic and international mobiility cost savings, Wi-Fi Calling solutions can allow business customers to treat a long-distance or international call like a local call when accessing a Wi-Fi hotspot, thereby eliminating costly roaming fees.

• Consider a tablet as an efficient and powerful alternative.
Designed to be portable and lightweight, a tablet is just as practical and cost-effective a tool as any laptop. Tablets enable small business owners and entrepreneurs to quickly access and share data. Whether in “the office” or on the go, users can be connected and up to date on their business.

• Explore how mobile payments can expand your opportunities and grow your business. 
Approximately 95 percent of small businesses don’t accept credit cards today. With consumers carrying as many as 800 million credit cards, finding a way to simply and cost-effectively accept credit is the easiest path to growth. Mobile technologies, like Square, are making the shift from paper to plastic much easier and are helping small businesses get paid fast.

• Utilize applications and other mobile tools to ease operations or simplify business tasks. 
For many small businesses, finding and downloading the right business applications translates to time they don’t have and headaches they can’t afford. The T-Mobile 4GPro App Pack, an aggregation of key business applications, such as DropBox, Evernote, Square, TripIt, Camscanner and LinkedIn, is preloaded on select smartphones and tablets to reduce complexity and save small businesses precious time.

• Employ mobile marketing tactics.
With more and more consumers specifically searching for local businesses on their mobile devices, it is imperative that small businesses invest in a mobile presence. Having a mobile presence can be a huge competitive advantage for small businesses trying to attract local customers by instantly introducing a potential customer to their business’ products and services through a website with mobile-optimized pages or a standalone mobile site, for example. According to a recent study of U.S. small businesses, those who are catering to mobile consumers are reaping benefits: 84 percent of small businesses with a mobile presence report increases in new business activity directly related to their mobile tactics.

• Engage with customers where they are – on social media platforms.
Wielded wisely, social media can help a growing business boost brand awareness, improve customer relations, garner market research, and even bolster sales. As the number of people using social media rises, marketing experts say it's essential for even the smallest of companies to consider diving in. Post signage in your store directing customers to the social media sites your business is active on. Encourage customers to interact with you through the tools.

• Find a trusted partner or wireless advisor.
The wireless landscape is complex and time is a precious commodity, so, above all else, find a partner who can guide you through the ever-expanding world of devices, applications, and mobile solutions. Whether in the store, online or on the phone, T-Mobile is committed to guiding small business toward the adoption of easy-to-use wireless technologies that will help them run their businesses better.

 

Rob Brenner is Colorado-based Director of Small and Medium Business Programs at T-Mobile.

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