I’ve been doing some testing lately (this weekend to be exact). Testing revolving around running a business mobile.
The question was simple – the one you see in the headline: Can running your business from a mobile actually work? And it’s online business we’re talking here, as always.
- Samsung Galaxy S3 + internet access.
Yeah, that’s it, only one tool; although I got a number of new apps along the way (when I needed them).
- To try to do whatever I’d normally do on my desktop computer.
- To try to reach the same efficiency.
- To try to retain the feeling of being on top of things.
So how did it play out? Well, let me start by sharing the overall results and then going into more detail:
In short, you can’t (run a business from a mobile).
Actually, scratch that…I can’t do it. But that’s just my general conclusion, and the detailed one is much less pessimistic:
- I was kind of able to achieve goal #1 – there are many apps available for Android (and iOS too) that allow you to do probably any online-business-related task out there. But when it’s all said and done, you’re still on your mobile phone… meaning that the screen is small and the touchscreen is hard to use for anything other than Twitter updates.
- I wasn’t able to achieve goal #2 – for the reason explained above.
- I was able to achieve goal #3 to its full extent! Which is great!
Let’s take the above one by one and look into the various online business tasks you can do on a mobile phone.
As I said, there’s a lot of apps waiting for online entrepreneurs. For example, here’s what I used along the way:
- Google Analytics
- Google Calendar
- Google Drive
- Google Keep
- Remember The Milk
This is quite a lot of apps. What you can also see is that the list is pretty dominated by Google (5 tools; not even mentioning the main Google search inside Chrome – both of which I didn’t list either).
The tools mentioned above are actually quite important to what I do every day, and their presence is not accidental at all. Also, I tried not to double specific functionalities in multiple tools. So most of the time, I use one tool for one specific thing.
My main research tools right now are Feedly (RSS reader) and Pocket (a read-it-later list).
Since I spend at least half of my work time writing, finding new topics and getting familiar with them is a crucial element in my schedule. With Feedly, I can easily keep up with my key blogs and put any article I like to read on my Pocket list.
To be honest, discovering new articles and reading them is just as effective on a mobile phone as it is on a desktop computer.
Note taking and brainstorming
This is what I primarily use Google Keep for. Even though the app is really cool and it’s synchronized to a cloud-based version of Keep, it doesn’t even touch the productivity I can achieve with mind mapping through FreeMind. Unfortunately, I’m still unable to find a quality mind mapping app for neither Android nor iOS.
So in short, I was able to do basic note taking and planning/brainstorming via Google Keep, but it was still very limited. Hence, I didn’t really enjoy the process.
Leaving Google Keep behind, I have to point out one more tool that has a specific purpose of improving our productivity – Remember The Milk (I wrote about it a while ago, feel free to check that post out).
Just to describe this shortly, the Android version of the tool allows you to do whatever you’d do with the web-based version, which makes it just as functional. In a word, great.
(By the way, the iOS version is still very poor…)
I’m not sure if “management” is the proper word here, but what I’m referring to are all the tasks related to keeping your finger on the pulse of your business.
The set of tools I used was: SugarSync, Google Drive, and Google Analytics.
SugarSync is something I explained in a number of my previous articles (at the bottom). In short, it’s just like Dropbox…only better, which makes it my favorite data synchronization tool. It gives me access to all of my most crucial files from any device with internet access.
Google Drive is still perfect for creating cloud-based documents, and the Android app makes it really easy to do.
Google Analytics is actually one of the most important apps you can have on your mobile. Although you won’t be using any of its advanced functionality 99% of the time, it’s a great way of remaining updated on what’s going on. It only takes 30 seconds or so to glance over your stats once a day. And if, just if, something bad is going on then you can always take action either through other apps on your mobile or by finding a proper computer.
To create my content, I tried to use WordPress – the official app, and Aviary – for editing pictures I wanted to use in my posts.
Unfortunately, this is where even the top smartphones fall short. And it’s all due to the small screen and touchscreen that’s just difficult to use. No matter what I did, I always felt that it was just a big pain in the ass.
So as it turns out, if I want to get some proper writing done, I need to have a standard keyboard and a standard screen at my disposal (plus, a mouse would be cool too).
But you know, it’s just me. Maybe you’re more skillful with touchscreens, so by all means, try this out for yourself instead of believing me.
This is the second area (after researching new topics to write about) where doing things on mobile is just as effective as doing them on a desktop computer.
With Gmail – the native app by Google – you can easily take care of any email you’d normally take care of. More than that, you can actually react much quicker to important mail.
To be honest, if it wasn’t for the keyboard problems, I’d probably move all my communication work to a mobile device…
Mobile vs. desktop
Anyway, just to sum this thing up real quick, let me say the following.
Running your online business from a mobile is technically possible but still a real pain in the ass (when we look at the overall set of tasks). There are, however, some types of tasks that are more effective being done on a mobile (various forms of communication).
Finally, if you were to take away just one piece of advice from this post, let it be this:
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you have to leave your home in a hurry, you can safely just grab your smartphone and be sure that you WILL be able to handle your business tasks eventually (… not necessarily with more ease).
But what’s your take on this? What’s your preferred way of handling online business tasks on the go?