Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have the freedom of a mobile office? One of the biggest benefits of this arrangement is the ability to work whenever you want, from wherever you want. If you need occasional access to a physical location to meet clients or use office equipment, a co-working office provides a combination of services, including technology and space, without the capital expense of owning a traditional office. With a mobile office, you can work in your car, in a shared work space, or even from home. So how do you create a mobile office? Consider the following when setting up your small business on the go.
Benefits of a Mobile Office
Choosing a mobile business office over a traditional brick and mortar setting provides a variety of advantages. Together, these advantages could be the difference between simply treading water and growing your business.
Reduced overhead costs
One of the biggest benefits of a flexible work space is the cost savings due to low overhead. A mobile office saves money on rent, IT equipment, phone service, and supplies. You also save on clothes, because you can wear whatever you want unless you’re meeting with clients.
Less time spent commuting
When you switch to a virtual or mobile office, you cut back on commute times. This means spending less money on gasoline, as well as reduced wear and tear on your vehicle. You also contribute fewer vehicle emissions, a bonus for the environment.
Running a mobile business affords less space for paperwork and office supplies, so you spend less money on paper, stationery, and other supplies that require storage. Since you don’t own copiers, fax machines and other office equipment, you save on utilities. Conserving energy reduces your carbon footprint, which is ideal for companies concerned with their environmental impact.
A mobile office is one way to boost productivity due to the wide range of available applications. Productivity apps such as QuickBooks Online keep your financial records in a single location and make it easier to operate your business on the go.
Greater opportunities for networking and promotion
Mobile workers can still stay connected to clients, customers, and vendors, so you can spread news about your products and services quickly. You can also reach beyond your core customer base if you’re willing to travel to meet clients.
Setting Up Your Mobile Office
When setting up your mobile office, you want to have all your processes in place so you can grab a few necessary items and work from anywhere. Consider the following steps when setting up to run your office on the go.
Consider your home base
Set up a home base to receive mail, meet clients, store supplies, and work when you aren’t in the field. Choose a designated space in your home, or opt for a shared community space. Use this address for business cards and deliveries.
Choose your preferred technology
A smartphone is ideal for daily communications, but it’s usually not enough to run your small business. Choose a laptop or tablet for typing out emails, running a website, churning out blog posts, or updating your online store. A tablet is smaller and easier to transport when you’re out in the field or to and from meetings with clients. It also provides services a laptop can’t, such as running applications.
A laptop serves as an excellent primary mobile machine for storing important documents, client, and customer information, as well as for backing up intense projects. Be sure to charge the batteries on all of your devices, and have a mobile power cord handy to keep those devices fully charged. A spare hard drive is also useful in the event of a crash.
Find secure connections
Mobile devices can be susceptible to data leaks because they can be easily lost or stolen, so it’s important to maintain secure connections to protect your computer. Ensure all your devices have the latest security software programs, such as Avast Mobile Security, McAfee, or Norton Security and Antivirus. Keep your firewalls, anti-spyware software, and anti-virus software up-to-date before connecting to a public internet connection.
Using shared wi-fi or hotspots
If you’re operating out of a shared office space and are using the provided network jack for the building, you open up a gateway for outsiders to gain access to your company’s online information. Consider connecting to a VPN service, such as VYprVPN, to further encrypt your data. When working in the field, create a hotspot from your smartphone, or consider purchasing a mobile hotspot from your cell provider to access the internet via a secure connection.
Prepare for the unexpected by accessing and managing your files online through programs such as DropBox or Google Documents. DropBox is free for up to 2GB of stored data, while Google Documents provides 15GB free. Many of these file storage programs come bundled with programs such as QuickBooks so you can backup your QuickBook files for safe keeping. Cloud-based storage and backup systems save data and files online in the event something happens to your laptop or tablet.
Choosing your peripherals
Even though the majority of your documents and papers will store online in the cloud, you’ll still likely need to print hard copies of documents occasionally for clients, customers, and vendors. For such purposes, choose a mobile printer compatible with your smartphone or computer. You may also require a scanner to run your business, which can also be a function on a mobile printer.
Choosing the right mobile apps
The types of software applications you choose can make a huge difference in managing your company while on the go. Project management applications such as Asana, Evernote, and Basecamp help manage your ideas, tasks, and goals in a single location. Both Evernote and Asana have a free version with premium paid options, while Basecamp charges a fee after the trial period ends.
Because you’d rather spend most of your time running your business instead of crunching numbers, QuickBooks Online makes accounting and payroll easy. When you start out, it’s likely you won’t have an extensive payroll to deal with, but as your business grows, QuickBooks lets you add on features to assist with your financial goals. With the application, you can view reports showing exactly where your money is going, and you can pay and send out invoices from a single location.
Video and voice conferencing applications such as Zoom and Skype let you meet with clients from anywhere around the world. Zoom allows you to create a meeting and have clients meet with you without signing up for an account. To communicate via Skype, both you and the other party must sign up for a free account.
DocuSign Ink makes it possible to get a signature right on your tablet using a finger or a stylus. You can then save your documents to a PDF file and store them via DropBox or your document file service of choice. The application is free to use, but it only stores one signature per envelope. The first envelope is free and additional envelopes are available for a small fee.
It takes a lot of working capital to start a new business. You can reduce some of these costs by operating a mobile office and by choosing QuickBooks to help you get started. Approximately 5.6 million businesses use QuickBooks for accounting and financial tasks for their mobile office or small business. Whether you are just starting out or have been in business for years, QuickBooks can help your business thrive for free.