Do you want to be 10%, 20% or even 40% more efficient? Right here in good ole New Zealand small business owners are tapping into the power of their smartphones to be significantly more productive.
Miranda Smith who runs two businesses estimates that she squeezes 40% more work from her day thanks to her Samsung Galaxy smartphone.
Hawke's Bay-based Smith, who runs Karitane Limited and the Garde Institute, must commute at least once a week from home to offices in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. In the old days the long commute was dead time. Smith has transformed from dead to productive time almost every moment from leaving her Hawke's Bay home in the taxi to arriving at meetings.
"I live more than most people on my phone," says Smith. "I use the calendar heaps, can access our database, check carers' rosters, email, do Google searches, read news on the New Zealand Herald website, and I use maps. My smartphone saves time, which I would be missing with my family."
Although Smith's old laptop allowed her to do some work on the road, she was unlikely to pull it out for a taxi trip or short waits in the airport. The smartphone, however, is always handy.
Around 80% of the Telecom Auckland Central Business Hub's customers now own smartphones and they're using them in increasingly innovative ways, says Hub owner Mike Messenger.
Messenger cites the example of Tuakau-based compost producer Envirofert. The compost producer is migrating its sales staff onto an automated system that allows them to complete orders on a tablet or smartphone using AMS technology developed by Wellington company Kinross Group.
When sales staff clinch a deal to sell compost to a customer, which is usually an orchard, the order form is filled in on the tablet, GPS co-ordinates entered, and a photograph of the orchard map taken. The signed electronic form is uploaded automatically to the company's order system as well as the third party trucking company to ensure the correct order reaches the precise location where it is meant to go.
At $25 per month per staff member, the app is "as cheap as chips", says Kim Willoughby an adviser to Envirofert's board.
The saving of man hours eclipses the cost. What's more, the chances of mistakes being made during re-keying of paper forms is wiped out. Willoughby expects all routine forms at Envirofert will eventually be migrated to the system.
The Envirofert example shows smartphone apps don't need to be sexy to save time and make more money. Other repetitive and time consuming tasks such as completing timesheets, expense reports, mileage tracking and other repetitive can be done on the go with downloadable or customised apps.
For some small businesses, says Messenger simple things such as the ability to turn their phones into WiFi hotspots to work as a modem for their laptops can be a game changer. He also cites the ability to react quickly in the world of social networking, as the directors of clothing company Huffer do.
Huffer director Steve Dunstan could be said to be attached to his smartphone by the hip. Dunstan like a growing band of small business owners uses it keep in contact with his company's "community". His social networking sites of choice are Instagram, Twitter and Facebook where he posts regular updates on the business and its products. "Having a smartphone really speeds up that process," says Dunstan. "I don't have to get to a computer (to post)."
· Get advice on how to use your smartphone more efficiently
· Look for apps to streamline repetitive tasks
· Sync your smartphone with your calendar, email and tasks
· Setup access to your company database and systems
· Use voice activation where possible