"The most dangerous place to make a decision is within the office," -- Ulrik Nehammer, Senior VP at Salesforce
His message is clear: Go mobile to collect better intel and then you can make smarter choices about the future of your business. As your business starts to grow, though, it can be challenging to project a professional image when using your smartphone as the company phone. Here are some tips on transforming your phone into a universal remote for business operations.
Whether you are collaborating on a small team or flying solo, projecting a professional image is essential to being heard and getting the job done. It’s easy to slip into bad habits, like using an overly casual tone in a professional email or missing that one very important call.
Zen for Business
Being always on means being prepared to switch gears in a moment, and if you’re wearing more than one hat, it might require unusual dexterity to keep up with the ceaseless demands of a young, growing company—while managing a social and family life at the same time. Training your mind to tolerate uncertainty and learning to roll with the punches will make you a better leader--and a better person.
Work Harder, Be Happier?
Entrepreneurs, freelancers and distributed teams may work harder than their office-bound counterparts, but there is plenty of evidence that they are more productive and happier, too. Over half said they wouldn't go back even for more money, and 79% claim that freelancing is better than traditional work. Control over your enviroment is a huge perk for freelancers. You can take more frequent breaks, and choose to work during your most productive hours. As a freelancer, you can experiment with a variety of different workspaces and arrangements, and find your optimal flow.
Taking time to unplug and relax is important when you are using your personal device as the company phone. It’s ok to have hours when you aren’t available, and it isn’t necessary to respond to every email as it arrives in your inbox. Don’t wait until the end of the day to recharge. Take a lunch stroll and take advantage of the perks of a freelance lifestyle. Visit museums or parks during the hours everyone else is in the office. Taking breaks as needed will make you more productive, and allow you to stay in the best shape for the hard work ahead.
You may still want to sit down at a desktop to analyze spreadsheets or write/edit documents, but thanks to the cloud, most day-to-day work can be done right from your smartphone. Bigger smartphones are even making it possible to edit and write on your smartphone, and their popularity is starting to eat into the tablet market. The race is on to create the work-perfect smartphone, and all the accessories that make work easier—and more fun—from the headset to the stylus. Shopping for these fun accessories might be one of the best perks of the freelance life!
The limit of your freedom is pretty much the limit of your battery. Battery is the biggest challenge for smartphone users, and companies are innovating ways to help users stay powered up. You are probably already using a battery pack or maybe even an extra phone to extend your time away from wall outlets. In the next few years, batteries could become obsolete as devices are powered by ambient Wi-Fi, the heat from our bodies, or simply the vibrations as we move about from place to place. This will certainly open up more physical locations where business can happen and is likely to turbocharge global economics on a grand scale.
Laptop, Cellphone, Internet Access
The holy trinity of remote work, these are the basic tools you need to work. Of course, it’s nice sometimes to find a place without Wi-Fi to do some focused work. If you are moving around, a little planning can make internet-free zones more productive. Download files or articles for offline reading and have tasks you can complete when the internet is not available.
Learning how to prioritize, let go, and trust team mates is key to success. If you’re part of a distributed team, communication is incredibly important, but hiccups do happen. Waiting for information is a kind of modern day business purgatory you will find yourself in from time to time. Flexibility is a must-have quality. Plan to find yourself at loose ends. Always have a plan B, such a routine task to work on with all the files you need ready to go. Having a plan C can’t hurt, either.
Smartphone penetration is nearly ubiquitous amongst Gen X and millennials, and so your smartphone is the perfect way to be where your customers already are. Staying connected to social media and internet communities will help you understand the pain points and challenges of your ideal customer. When someone makes a comment, or a relevant conversation gets started, you can be a part of it.
Lurk and Learn
The benefits of real-time engagement come with risks. It’s best to be sincere and straightforward when engaging in real time, as humor and irony can get lost in translation. Lurking isn’t really as creepy as it sounds, either. It’s even considered de rigueur in many online communities, who would prefer you to spend some time listening before you join in.
Staying connected to your community—where your customers are—is the biggest perk of using your smartphone as the company phone. Make it easy for customers to reach you, and use your superior speed to reach them before the competition does. The human touch is how SME’s can really distinguish themselves in the market. Having real, human conversations with your customers might be the most important thing that you do.
In Good Company
At the end of the day, the feeling that you are driving your own destiny makes it worth all the hard work. And, as the ecosystem of business-focused smartphone applications and tools has matured, it’s totally possible to run a wildly successful business from your smartphone—with a little help from your laptop or tablet. Google, Salesforce and Coca Cola are all companies with smartphone-only executives. Who can argue with success like that?
A Smarter Phone
Learning how to speak more effectively over the phone might be one of the tougher aspects of freelance life, but setting up a phone system doesn't have to be. Your next business phone system might already be in your hand.
Download the Spoke app to get everything you need in a phone system. No servers, no installations, no hardware. You can create call groups, hold conference calls, and send pre-call messages so that the recipient knows what the call is about. A professional AI receptionist answers and routes calls when you're not available. In coming updates, we're even building machine learning features to read cues about the caller's moods, and other advanced tech to help your business grow.
Now is actually a great time to grow a business, despite the turbulent global economy, because new tech makes it easier than ever before to run a major operation on a smaller investment.
Contact us for a demo of Spoke's virtual telephone system, to instantly enable a professional, scalable customer interface for any growth-oriented SME.