Volume 16, Issue 5 - September/October 2012

Open 24/7
By Manny Hondroulis

Planning with Technology

All of us lead busy lives. We get so bogged down with commitment, whether business or personal, that we donít know if weíre coming or going. And to a certain extent, technology has contributed to this problem. Some of those in the world around us feel that the ease of communication gives them the right to contact you and expect an immediate response, day or night. Whether or not you agree, the ability to respond immediately may determine the success or failure of your business.

Technology contributes to this problem, but can also solve it. Being mobile and having one single device that handles telephone calls, email, documents, calendars, contacts, instant messaging and web browsing can either simplify or complicate your life. Letís assume the former to be true. So how can we use technology to simplify and organize your life?

Judging Availability
The first step is to decide how mobile you want to be. The answer to this question depends on the size of your business, its infrastructure and how available you want to be to others. If you want to be able to handle almost any business situation or be available to customers anywhere and anytime, then youíll need to purchase a tablet and/or smartphone. If you want to be slightly less available and enjoy some of your free time without business interruption, then your existing computer will suffice.

Be sure to store all of your contacts into your smartphone, tablet or contact program such as Microsoft Outlook (I recommend Outlook because it is much more than a contact management program). If youíre managing more than one device, be sure to link your devices together so a change or update in one is reflected in the other(s).

Get in the habit of using the calendar functionality to keep your appointments straight. You can store times, dates, locations, alerts, etc., to make sure you honor your commitments. If youíre on the road a lot, it is easy to get distracted, lose track of the hour and forget where youíre supposed to be at a given time. That could lead to an irate prospect or upset family member.

Consider loading all of your important documents onto your mobile device. I canít explain how many times Iíve been on the road and wish I had a specific document at my fingertips. Now that I have an iPhone and iPad, I always have what I need when I need it.

We arenít the only ones using mobile devices; our customers and prospects are as well. An effective online presence incorporates the increasing importance of having a website that is smartphone-friendly. A mobile-friendly website can be a simplified version of your existing website that is easily read and navigated from a portable device. If you donít already have one, itís time to contact your webmaster.

Why Technology?
Technology doesnít just begin and end with keeping our daily lives straight. It can be used as an effective business management tool. For example, if you use an accounting program to keep your financial records, see if there is a mobile version of that application. How many times have you been out of the office and wish that you had access to your books? In the field you may need to check on a customerís estimate, accounts receivables or travel expenses. Wouldnít it be nice to access that information from the road on your smartphone when you need it rather than wait until the next time youíre at the office? Financial programs like Quickbooks offer mobile accessibility. Just download the mobile app from the appropriate online marketplace, perform all the necessary configurations to your existing Quickbooks file, and youíll be able to get a snapshot of your business when you need it.

It is important to stay with or ahead of the trends to maintain marketplace relevance. Whether helping you manage your business, or attracting new customers, immerse yourself in the latest hardware and software so that you maintain and increase your business importance.

Manny Hondroulis is marketing manager for Energy Performance Distribution in Baltimore.

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