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A businessman using a smartphone in the back of a Taxi cab.

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Once upon a time, if you wanted to start a small business, you needed a whole bunch of stuff. You needed an office or store, office equipment, staff and a website. Even when I started my own one-person business from my home, I needed an expensive computer and software, not to mention a printer, copier, and fax machine (it was a long time ago…).

Now, it’s possible to run many small businesses entirely from the one device you probably already have in your pocket – your smartphone. You can make sales, run payroll, manage your website, send invoices, process payments, do your marketing – all from the palm of your hand.

In the last few years, there has been an explosion of cloud-based, mobile apps (or mobile versions of desktop software applications) that make it easy to stay on top of most of your business operations right from your mobile phone. And that’s great for today’s small business owner, because you’re more likely than ever to be on the go: meeting customers, traveling to trade shows, balancing work life with family needs.

If you’re going to put sensitive data up in the cloud, take a few steps to protect that information. Be sure to research potential providers when it comes to security and privacy, looking at online reviews as well as recommendations from other small business owners.

There are a few other ‘must do’ steps to protect your data and devices if you’re going to run your business from a smart phone. 

More: How to succeed in business without getting divorced

More: Keep your small-biz customers coming back

More: 11 secrets of small business success

Choose reputable companies. With so many new apps coming out, it’s very possible that the app you choose today could be gone tomorrow. Tend to go with providers who’ve been around for a long time. They’re more likely to both be there tomorrow and to have the resources for high-quality security.

Use passwords. Use passwords not just for applications, but for your phone itself, and make sure everyone who uses a business app on their phone also uses a password-protected device. And use harder-to-break passwords, not just the name of your oldest child.     

Protect your devices. Since your business is now based on your phone, protect your phone. Keep an eye on it and treat it carefully. You might want to get a backup phone, just in case. 

Control access. Make sure that you, as the business owner, controls who can access your data, and when an employee leaves, be sure to turn “off ” their access.

Turn it off. You’re never leaving the office if you’re carrying your business in your pocket. But you need down time. So set aside device-free time every day.   

Useful apps  

I’ve spent time checking out some of the most useful apps for running your business on the go. Search for these at either the App Store or Google Play Store, download, and get to work wherever you are.

• Money management and accounting. Send out invoices, track time, pay bills, run payroll, track mileage, and more.

QuickBooks: Online https://quickbooks.intuit.com/online/

Xero: https://www.xero.com/us/features-and-tools/mobile/xero-touch/

FreshBooks: https://www.freshbooks.com/mobile-apps

Intuit Online Payroll:  https://payroll.intuit.com/additional-services/mobile-payroll-apps/

Harvest: https://www.getharvest.com/apps/iphone

Wave: https://www.waveapps.com/invoice/mobile/

Bill.com: https://www.bill.com/blog/billcom-mobile-20/

Shoeboxed: https://www.shoeboxed.com/features/mobile/

Everlance: https://www.everlance.com/

• Payments. Receive payments instantly from customers.

Square: https://squareup.com/

PayPal Here: https://www.paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/credit-card-reader

QuickBooks GoPayment: https://quickbooks.intuit.com/payments/mobile-payments/

• Make sales. Turn your phone into your storefront and make sales directly to customers.

Shopify: https://www.shopify.com/mobile

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/mobile

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/846547442125798

Instagram: https://business.instagram.com/a/shopping-on-instagram

• Scheduling. The apps take bookings and appointments, accept upfront payments, send clients reminders, and more.

Square Appointments: https://squareup.com/us/en/software/appointments

HouseCall Pro: https://housecallpro.com/

Acuity Scheduling: https://acuityscheduling.com/

Timely: https://www.gettimely.com/

Eventbrite Organizer: https://www.eventbrite.com/l/Organizer-check-in-app/

• Customer relationship management: Build, manage, and keep track of customers, prospects, and more.  

Zoho CRM: https://www.zoho.com/crm/

Salesforce: https://www.salesforce.com/

Infusionsoft: https://www.infusionsoft.com/

Insightly CRM: https://www.insightly.com/product/mobile-crm-app/

Apptivo: https://www.apptivo.com/

Method CRM: https://www.method.me/

• Document storage and sharing. Store, share, and access your files from any device. 

Google Drive: https://www.google.com/drive/

Zoho Docs: https://www.zoho.com/docs/

Dropbox: https://www.dropbox.com

Box: https://www.box.com

Hightail Spaces: https://www.hightail.com

• Communications. Communicate with customers and manage your team back home.

Skype: https://www.skype.com/en/

Google Hangouts: https://tools.google.com/dlpage/hangoutplugin

WhatsApp: https://www.whatsapp.com/

Join.Me: https://www.join.me/

Webex: https://www.webex.com/

• Social media marketing. Manage and schedule all your social media activities.  

WordPress: https://wordpress.com

Hootsuite: https://hootsuite.com

Buffer: https://buffer.com

Crowdfire: https://www.crowdfireapp.com

• Graphic Design. Edit photos, add text, create graphics, and designs for your social media campaigns.

Over: https://madewithover.com

Canva: https://www.canva.com/app/

• Travel. Get the most out of your investment in business travel, from rewards tracking to booking to finding a great place to eat.

Tripit: https://www.tripit.com/

AwardWallet: https://awardwallet.com/en/

Hopper:  https://www.hopper.com/

Kayak: https://www.kayak.com/

LocalEats: https://www.localeats.com/

• Newsletters. Manage and monitor newsletter campaigns you’ve created in advance on your desktop.

MailChimp: https://mailchimp.com

Constant Contact: https://www.constantcontact.com/index.jsp

Emma: https://myemma.com

Aweber: https://www.aweber.com

• Website. Work on your site, view activity, manage your online store, write and post blogs, and view traffic.

Weebly: https://www.weebly.com/

Wix: https://www.wix.com/

Strikingly:https://www.strikingly.com/

Jimdo: https://www.jimdo.com/

• Build your team. Find and recruit employees and hire independent contractors.

Indeed Employer: https://www.indeed.com/hire/employer-products

Zoho Recruit https://www.zoho.com/recruit/

Upwork https://www.upwork.com/

Linkedin Recruiter https://www.linkedin.com/uas/login-cap

• Project management. Stay on top of projects and get things done with your team.

Asana: https://asana.com/

Wrike: https://www.wrike.com/

Basecamp: https://basecamp.com/

Teamwork: https://www.teamwork.com/

Wunderlist: https://www.wunderlist.com/

Any.do: https://www.any.do/

Rhonda Abrams is the author of  Six-Week Start Up, just released in its fourth edition. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter through the handle @RhondaAbrams. Register for her free business tips newsletter at PlanningShop.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.

Copyright 2017 USATODAY.com





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