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Create A Mobile Office

How to Create a Mobile Office for Your Small Business

Tips for Setting Up an Office You Can Take Anywhere

“Technology is a powerful thing for small business owners, regardless what type of business they run. Using technology can help entrepreneurs do amazing things, including save money, streamline business processes, promote their products and services in new ways, and work more productively.

Technology also gives many small business owners the ability to leave their home or business offices behind and create mobile offices so they can work from anywhere, at any time. This kind of mobility eliminates geographic challenges, and helps small business owners become nimble and more flexible.

If you are ready to take your business on the road, here is some advice for creating an operational mobile office that allows you to work from anywhere.

 

  1. 01

    Choose the Right Mobile Computer

    Business people reviewing financial data on digital tablet
    •••

    If your work requires a computer, you will need a light and movable system that you can pick up and take with you when you leave your main office. That eliminates a desktop computer, but you still have other options to consider.

    Depending on the work you do, you may need a powerhouse laptop, such as a MacBook Pro. If you won’t be doing any heavy lifting from your mobile office, a less expensive and more streamlined netbook, such as an Asus Eee PC, may fit your needs. In some cases, a tablet computer, such as an Apple iPad, may provide enough features to help you bridge the gap between your primary office and your mobile office.

  2. 02

    Get a Reliable and Secure Internet Connection

    internet connection
    •••

    You can’t run a business these days without an Internet connection, but free Wi-Fi hotspots are not going to cut it. First, free access points are typically not reliable enough for business work. And second, Wi-Fi hotspots are not secure. Using one with a business computer can put your data at risk.

    One alternative is a high-speed mobile access card, or a MiFi (a compact wireless router). You can purchase the device and data plan from your mobile phone service provider, or from a company that offers pre-paid or pay-as-you-go wireless access. Whichever option you choose, make sure you protect your data by using an encrypted password.

  3. 03

    Make Your Data Accessible

    business data
    •••

    If you have multiple computers (a desktop in your office and a laptop for mobile working, for example), you will need a way to share files between your computers. You can manually email yourself files, or use a USB drive to move files from one computer to the other. This is tedious, however, and can present version control issues. The best option is using an online backup service that will automatically backup and synchronize your data across multiple devices.

    An online backup service makes it easy to access data from a mobile office. And even if you have just one main computer, this is a great way to ensure consistent backup and accessibility of your data in case of a system crash.

  4. 04

    Consider Going Virtual Across the Board

    virtual business
    •••

    Mobile offices need to be easy to break down, pack up and take anywhere. That means you can’t drag your double file cabinet along with you on the road. That may leave you in a tough spot if you are traveling, though, and find that you need to review a paper document back in your office. If this is a recurring challenge for you, it may be worth transitioning to a paperless (or at least mostly digital) office.

    You can create a paperless office and digital document management system by scanning in hard copy files and creating a virtual file cabinet; managing finances, bookkeeping and budgets on your computer; taking meeting notes on your computer, or transferring them later on; and using electronic agreements. Once you create a digital document management system, you will have all of your paper documents accessible and searchable on your computer. And once those files sync to your online backup service, you can access them from anywhere, making your office truly mobile.

    You can even use virtual phone lines and digital fax lines to create a telephone system you can bring with you wherever you go. This can help you run a professional and seamless business on the road.

  5. 05

    Run System Maintenance Regularly

    software update
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    There is nothing like booting up your computer, only to find that there are a slew of operating system and software updates that need to download and install. This is a major productivity-killer, especially when you’re mobile. Make sure you update your system before traveling to avoid this unnecessary downtime.

    You should also make sure you have reliable anti-virus software installed and updated. And don’t skip those security patches that need to be installed. Keeping your system updated and virus-free is vital for every business, mobile or stationary.

  6. 06

    Don’t Forget Peripherals

    computer accessories
    •••

    Whether it’s a portable printer or scanner, an extra battery, or your favorite mouse, make sure your mobile office is ready to support your work, comfortably and efficiently. You should also bring the power cord for your mobile computer so you can keep it charged and ready to go. And it’s a good idea to travel with a small surge protector to protect your computer in case of an unexpected power surge.

    Setting up a mobile office can be a very individual process. Start by deciding how much access you really need and work backwards to create your mobile office. Once you perfect your mobile workspace, you may even find that you don’t need a stationary central office any longer.”

    Source

    With plenty of city-wide green space and beautiful weather, Austin is a great place to have a mobile office.  Whether you are always on-the-go or want to be less attached to your desk, there are so many ways to achieve a mobile office. Not sure if a mobile office is right for you?  Ask yourself a few questions!

    1. Do you want a more flexibility  schedule?

    2. Do you enjoy being spontaneous?

    3. Would you like a change of scenery?

    4. Are you in a convenient location for your customers?

    If you answered,”Yes!” to any of the above questions, a mobile office may be right for you.  Start small, if it seems intimidating.  Remember, this should be a streamlined version of your current setup – able to go where duty calls.  You’ve got this!

Top Time Tracking Apps

Top Time Tracking Software & Cloud-Based Apps

For U.S. and Canadian Businesses

“Good time tracking software pays for itself. Being able to precisely track the time spent on various projects lets you bill your clients accurately and manage your time more efficiently. The time tracking software programs listed here are also easy to learn and use, and include reporting and billing features, features most freeware time tracking software programs don’t have.

As with accounting and tax software, most vendors of time tracking software are moving their products to the cloud and offer online subscription-based services ranging from basic to advanced in features and price (see also The Best Accounting Software for Small Business and Top Tax Software Programs). Most have “try before you buy” options so you can test drive the product.Note that some of products listed include sophisticated time tracking for businesses with employees, including interfaces for time clocks, bio-metric readers, etc. If you are a freelancer/contractor and don’t need the features of dedicated time tracking software note that many accounting software packages (such as FreshBooks) include basic time tracking capabilities.

    • 01

      TSheets Time Tracking Software

      TSheets is a cloud-based, comprehensive, time tracking and management system. As well as browser access there are apps for mobile devices and you can also clock in via text messages or dial-up.

      TSheets has an excellent employee tracking system that uses GPS to track and record the locations of employees with mobile devices, which is very handy for contractors who work on remote sites.

      TSheets integrates directly with QuickBooks accounting software – after initial setup, QuickBooks and TSheets can synchronize payroll and accounting information in real time.

      For plans and pricing see the TSheets pricing page

    • 02

      uAttend Time and Attendance Cloud-Based Software

      If you are a small business and need to do time tracking of employees, uAttend time and attendance software is a perfect solution. Being cloud-based it does not require desktop software installation.

      Employees can enter data via web browsers, mobile devices, and telephones, or automatically via a variety of uAttend devices, including time clocks, fingerprint readers, and biometric scanning devices.

      The system tracks employee time each day and can also manage vacations, sick days and time off. The job-tracking feature enables logging of the amount of employee time spent on specific projects.

      uAttend has plans starting as low as $18.00 U.S./month for businesses with 1-9 employees. However, there are additional charges for telephone clocking, additional administrators, and extra clock devices.

    • 03

      Dovico Timesheet Tracking Software

      This cloud-based professional time tracking software from Dovico has excellent functionality and is inexpensive. The program allows multiple types of time entry, handles multiple projects, lets you create a variety of reports and invoices quickly and easily, and allows data to be exported in a variety of formats. It also integrates well with Microsoft Project, Microsoft Access, Microsoft Excel and Intuit QuickBooks. For those who work internationally, Dovico supports multiple currencies.

      For features and pricing see Dovico plans.

    • 04

      BillQuick Time and Billing Software

      BillQuick is a comprehensive time/billing and project management solution suitable for professionals in a variety of industries, including construction, accounting, engineering, information technology, etc. In addition to time tracking and project management, BillQuick includes invoicing and accounts receivable and (in the enterprise version) accounts payable, which includes deposits, vendor bill payment, etc.

      Deployment is very flexible and scalable – data can be entered via desktop apps, browsers or mobile apps on iPhone, Android, or Blackberry devices. A full cloud-based version (BillQuick Online) is also available. BillQuick data can easily be exported to accounting applications such as QuickBooks, and it has over 400 customizable templates for reporting and over 150 invoicing templates.

      For a full list of features and pricing see BillQuick plans.

    • 05

      TraxTime Time Tracking Software

      TraxTime is a very inexpensive, desktop PC application that while dated, has a surprising list of features. TraxTime can also handle unlimited projects, and its punch clock metaphor makes it easy to use. And if you like, you can append memos to the time entries. Customized reports can be sent to printers, saved to file or viewed onscreen. The Manager’s Version of this time tracking software, which is slightly more expensive, allows you to maintain a shared project list and create comprehensive reports for several users.

      Unfortunately, TraxTime is not cloud-based or cross-platform, but if you are looking for a very inexpensive PC desktop-based time tracking application, TraxTime may fit the bill.

    • 06

      TimeWriter Time Tracking Software

      TimeWriter’s entry screen is a weekly grid which displays one week of hour entries at a single glance, which makes it easy to enter hours worked quickly. This time tracking software program has excellent report functionality, and data can be exported in a variety of formats. Because the time tracking software was designed for workgroups, it has more administrative features than other single-use programs.

      TimeWriter has Windows and Mac OSX clients, as well as a Web client and iPhone and Android apps. There is also a freeware version with a reduced set of features available for personal use.”

      Source

      The better time management we have, the more time we have to focus on our profits and spreading them throughout our community in ways that benefit us all, while still having plenty to finally take that vacation you’ve been planning or making that large donation you’ve been putting off.  It’s time to build the Austin that thrives on community, local partnerships, philanthropy, & genuine relationships.

      Learn how we can work together.

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