Too many businesses today are running themselves ragged and not using technology to make life easier. With our front office staff at a trade show this week, our mobile office capabilities are really at the forefront of our thoughts today. Months of setting up online files, connectivity and seemless integration of documents are being tested heavily for the next 72 hours. If we did our jobs, then it goes smooth. If we failed, then there’s more work to do when they return.
Cordless businesses are everywhere now, and too many pay for services that are offered at little to no cost to the end user. Gone are the days where you need to have a fax machine, telephones and file cabinets in your office. Instead offline backups, PDF generators and Fax to Email capabilities are ruling the business world. Many think services like this are out of the range of a small business owner, but honestly there are too many good options not to use them – and save yourself a ton in the process.
Telephone Services – You need a business presence, but don’t want to spend any money on a phone line. Google Voice can certainly take care of this for you. Simply make your business a gmail account, “email@example.com” for example. This can be used later for a few other great services, so keep that handy. Log in to Google Voice and get a local number. You can then forward that number to any phone you already own (cell phones are great for this – especially if you have a ‘free’ any number dialing system or already have an unlimited plan) and your ‘business calls’ will ring through showing the business number on your device or home phone. The advantage to Google Voice – no long distance charges and free voice mail. This will save the average small business up to $600 per year over a stand alone voice line.
Mobile Communication – Running a small business means operating quickly and effectively. We recommend that everyone involved in running a business, regardless of size, get a smartphone. Sure, the $750 a year in data fees will add up, but the ability to respond quickly to email and voice messages will save you $1000’s every year. We actually had clients tell us that our speed in response to their questions was a deciding factor in their choice of using our company over the competition. When you team a smartphone with Google Voice (which you signed up for already) you can have your calls come straight to your device, access company specific voice mail and even send text message to clients without giving out your personal numbers.
Mobile/Business Internet – This is always a tough one… How much internet does your business need? Speed is everything if you are an artist or someone that emails larger files back and forth all day long (though see our notes on cloud storage below if you are) but for the average small business that sends a few contracts or maybe emails heavily, speed won’t be too big of factor. For your online service, stick to the lower speeds to save money – unless you need that speed to support multiple computers or remote access. A good cell connection now will be as fast as old landline DSL speeds from 2 years ago. 1.5 to 5 Mbps is more than enough speed for most businesses to run. People will try and sell you on more, but it’s really all you need. By staying down at the 1.5 Mbps connection vs. the 12Mbps connection on Comcast, you’ll save $250 a year with very little difference in normal performance. That $20 a month, will be about what you need to connect to the internet via the wireless hotspot feature on most smartphones. This means you have your standard office connection for your everyday usage and your mobile connection for when you go off site or head out of town for meetings.
A great method of saving a bit of cash on the cellular bill is to shop around a bit. We currently have Verizon Wireless running $119.99 for their unlimited plan with data ($2879.76 on a 2 year agreement) and a great offering from a smaller carrier called SIMpleMobile which runs off the T-Mobile network for a lowly $40 for 3G data and $60 for 4G data per month. That saves $1919.76 on the 3G plan and 1439.76 on the 4G plan. What could your business do with that $1500-2000 a year?
Cloud Storage – Even though it’s not completely free, we are sticking with Google on this one. Google offers an amazing 20GB of storage for $5 per year. This is more than enough to store all your PDF price lists, sample image galleries and online documents for printing PDF files on the go. The $5 a year expense is nothing to balk at, since that works out to less than $.45 a month for a great service. Google’s service also gives you a one-click backup option of all your online Google Docs and PDF files. Another great Cloud Service to check out if you are a Windows Phone user is SkyDrive. There you receive 25GB of storage free for all your needs and your mobile device can access photos, office docs and other files directly from you account.
Faxing – Yes, people still fax. As much as we love those old “Toner spewing, paper eating” monsters, we can’t wait to see them all go. Then we can say welcome to the 20th century with Fax to Email. Yes, for about $10 a month, you can have your faxes instantly appear in your email box for review, printing and storing. No more worries about if a fax got lost, or if it didn’t arrive. All your sent items are in one folder and your received items are saved where you want them. Most of these programs offer storage options as well, but we are a big fan of saving them as a PDF file and uploading them to your ‘Incoming Faxes’ folder on GDocs for safe keeping.
Email/Online Presence – Every company needs a website. If you aren’t online, nobody is going to find you. For as low as $1.99 a month, you can get a professionally hosted website on a server with excellent up time. The company up time is a huge concern because if they are always down, then people won’t see you when they head to your site. Designing your site is very simple with the online site designer and a few minutes. Later on, you can spend a fortune having a professional site done if you want, but for most companies, the basics are fine.
So with a quick glance through the cord cutting basics, we’ve eliminated your land line telephone, your fax machine and completed your transition to a mobile office. You might wonder when looking at the numbers above how much your actual overhead is going to be, so we calculated it out for you.
Telephone/Cellular: $40.00 per month – SIMpleMobile
Internet: $25 for land line internet + $30 per month in mobile internet – Comcast
Faxing: $10 – via GoDaddy
Web Hosting: $5 – via GoDaddy
This brings your grand total to $110 a month, or just under what you would be paying for your unlimited minute plan on Verizon Wireless. That’s for your complete mobile office that comes with you anywhere you go.
Hopefully you enjoyed the tips and will put some of these cost saving measures in place soon. For more information, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (360) 453-7758.