Save Time and Money with Business-Friendly Smartphone Apps
You’ve made your New Year’s resolution to work smarter, and what better way to do this then to use a smartphone? The iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and other smartphones are changing the way we do business. While only 17% of Americans own smartphones, nearly half of all small-business owners already have them. With the expected arrival of the Verizon iPhone in 2011, many more small-business owners will implement smartphone usage very soon.
Smartphones are not only for communication, although they are still a valuable tool for this purpose; they are also extremely helpful in handling various business activities while on the road. There are numerous apps for these devices that enable you to perform activities mobilely, which can save you both time and money, and more apps are being developed everyday.
Here are some ways in which smartphones can be used to simplify your company’s taxes, accounting, and other financial activities when you and/or your staff members are out of the office.
Keep records of income and expenses up-to-date while you’re on the road using an app for your accounting system; your mobile entries sync with your desktop data. For example:
- 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. You can use smartphones to 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 such as Concur.
There are an unlimited number of ways in which a smartphone can be used for a business’s 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 into 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.). Also 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. Issues include virus protection, data backup, and blocks for tracking your location. The International Association for Privacy Professionals recently called for privacy guidelines. And yes, there’s an app for privacy protection too (see MyLookout).