Smartphones are changing the way we do business. While only 17 percent of Americans own smartphones, nearly half of all small-business owners have them. With the expected arrival of the Verizon iPhone in 2011, many more small-business owners will start to use smartphones as well.
Smartphones can be used to handle the various business activities that you encounter while on the road. There are many Apps that can enable you to perform activities mobilely, which can save you both time and money.
Here are a few ways that smartphones can be used to simplify your company’s taxes, accounting and other financial activities when you're out of the office:
Use an App to keep records of income and expenses while you’re on the road. Your mobile entries can sync with your desktop data. Two good services to consider:
- AccountingEdge lets you create quotes, orders, and invoices.
- QuickBooks Online enables you to view your customer lists, look up accounts receivable, and check your credit card balances.
Taxes require you to keep receipts and certain records to backup your claimed deductions. Your smartphone can help with record-keeping such as:
- Vehicle mileage: If you use a personal car or truck for business, keep a record of your business driving using Intuit’s Tap2Track, MileBug, Symply Soft’s Milog, or Trip Cubby.
- T&E reports: Track travel and entertainment expenses with Apps like Concur.
More ways to use your smartphone financial activities:
- Time tracking: Keep track of the time you spend on customer accounts using smartphone Apps, such as HoursTracker or ClockIn.
- Payment processing: Apps enable you to accept credit cards on the fly. Your smartphone uses an iTerminal/vTerminal to process payments using an App such as Authorize.net, Paytech PayPocket and uCharge.
- Credit card balances: You can view and manage your American Express credit card balance, for example, using an App. You can also receive text message alerts for payment reminders and irregular account activity.
Be sure to check the cost (some Apps are fee; others have a modest cost) and availability on your type of smartphone (some Apps work only on iPhones, others on BlackBerrys, etc.). Ask your CPA or other financial advisor which other types of Apps can be used to help run your business more efficiently while you are away from your office.
Remember to address privacy concerns with smartphone usage. Make sure to use virus protection, data backup and blocks for tracking your location to avoid issues. The International Association for Privacy Professionals recently called for privacy guidelines. There’s an App for privacy protection, MyLookout.
Barbara Weltman is an attorney, prolific author with such titles as J.K. Lasser’s Small Business Taxes and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Home-Based Business, and trusted professional advocate for small businesses and entrepreneurs. She is also the publisher of Idea of the Day and monthly e-newsletter Big Ideas for Small Business at www.barbaraweltman.com and host of Build Your Business radio. Follow her on Twitter at BarbaraWeltman.
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