Top Sleek Shopkeep: Running a Small Business from Anywhere

With advances in mobile and cloud technology in the last few years, running your business will never be the same. In fact, you can set up shop with just a smartphone, tablet or laptop with a mobile hotspot from your phone company. The advantages are obvious: You can spend less money on infrastructure and run your business with minimal fixed costs, which will help boost profits.

A Business Revolution

With the development of easy-to-carry devices such as tablets, you can potentially run your business from a different location every day. This is especially true if your business doesn't deal in hands-on handling of merchandise — such as companies that specialized in writing, affiliate marketing and website operation.

What has really created a new sense of freedom for small business owners in the last two years is the ability to run credit card payments and checks through software that can be run from a laptop, tablet or phone. Point-of-sale software (POS) is often the lifeblood of running a small business. If you can take a payment via credit card through your tablet and have it automatically approved and deposited in your bank account, you are liberated from the lag time involved with converting your payment into usable funds. You can also save your business information on a cloud drive, so you do not need physical space to store your files.

How POS Software Works

In the past, anyone who traveled and sold products or services in various towns had to take payments either by paper check or by using what retailers fondly call the "knuckle buster," a mechanism with a slider to imprint credit cards. Then you either had to mail the deposit to your bank, take it there in person or call it in to your credit card company. It was a cumbersome and time-consuming process.

The first improvement in taking payments while running a small business was a swiper mechanism that scans your credit card at a POS area. While this software has improved over the years, the essence of it hasn't changed much. You need a phone line to connect it to the bank's system. After the customer pays, the money is deposited in the bank one to three days after the sale.

Another advance for taking payments was the ability to run credit cards through a cell phone. However, this wasn’t always ideal, because you had to pay for cell phone service, and the reception was often spotty. This type of setup did allow small businesses the ability to have a confirmed payment at various locations (assuming cell service was available).

In the last two years, these previous developments have become virtually obsolete. The latest development in mobile POS is the use of smartphone technology. Because smartphones have the ability to process data independent of cell phone lines, you can now run a small business entirely over the Internet.

Pros and Cons of Mobile POS

There are very few cons to mobile POS outside of buying the basic hardware required. When running a business, a smartphone or tablet is preferred, though systems will also run off of laptops. You will need to purchase an attachment that will work with your device. Some programs give you a free attachment, but some companies will charge you for the expense of the hardware in their fees. Other than those two investments, the only other cost is the actual fees to process credit cards and checks.

Today, mobile technology is very reliable for running a small business if you’re in an area that has good Wi-Fi or cell service. If you aren't, you can bring your own hotspot with you. This essentially lets you run your business remotely from anywhere.

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