Mobile phones and tablets have had a large impact on small business over the last few years. In similar ways to how MySpace leveled the playing field for new artists to reach their target audience, so too have new technologies leveled that field for small businesses.
There are roughly 1.2 billion mobile Web users in the world. This number is growing every day. More and more businesses, both big and small, are catching on and establishing a mobile Web presence. There are many ways to market your business using mobile and tablet devices—everything from mobile apps to QR codes to virtual coupons. Americans spend 2.7 hours a day socializing on their mobile phones. By 2014, it is projected that Internet usage on mobile phones will over take desktop Internet usage. With these numbers, you might want to think about investing the time and the dime into mobile marketing for your small business.
It’s not just in your marketing department that mobile/tablets are having an effect either. The numbers above reflect you as well as your customers. Working remote is increasingly popular, and much more feasible. It is no longer 100 percent necessary for you to carry around a cumbersome laptop to get work done. Equipped with a tablet device and a smart phone, you are carrying around a mini-office. While it’s not essential that you run out and purchase these items to get your business up and running, it is a wise investment in the future of your small business. Being connected will allow you to interact with clients, customers, employees and partners. Running a small business these days means being on call 24/7. These new technologies allow us to be ready to react to any new development (positive or negative), while also getting on with our lives. You can be cooking dinner, out with friends, or watching your child’s sporting event while simultaneously working on improving your business.
In a recent poll conducted by AT&T, 96 percent of the small businesses they surveyed said they used mobile technology and 63 percent say they could not survive without wireless technologies. Forty three percent said their employees use wireless devices to work away from the office, and by the end of the year that number will reach 50 percent. The Small Business and Entrepreneurial Council study shows that small firms are saving up to an average of $14,000 a year, by using mobile apps to help manage their operations. Cutting down on everything from travel, to customer research can save your small business more money in the long run.
People are becoming connected via mobile Web on a global scale, and it’s important to understand how this could have an impact on your business. In the same ways I laid out how you need to recognize when the time is right to dive into social media, the same goes for mobilizing your small business. Are you ready to create a mobile version of your website? Are you able to connect with your consumers on a daily basis that mobile users not only expect, but also demand? Can you afford to provide these devices for members of your workforce if you deem them necessary for your success? If you answer yes to these questions, than investing time into mobile is the right move for your business.
Dan Schawbel is the managing partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen-Y research and management consulting firm. Subscribe to his updates at Facebook.com/DanSchawbel.