Small business success STARTING UP IS EASY

Those of us who have started up and run a small business know it is all terribly simple and straightforward. You just have to take on board those wise platitudes about making sure your business is properly funded (if I could work that one out I probably wouldn't bother running a business), identifying your market and preparing an exit strategy. Once you have done that you need to develop a few fairly trivial super powers - in particular we all have to learn how to be in several places at once. The other powers we need, like squeezing 30 or so hours into a day or controlling our inner perpetual motion machine by will power alone can take a while to master. But the special skill of being here, there and everywhere all at the same time is something that we can call on technology to help out with.


When you start out in business, and often for quite some time, you are the business. If you need to visit prospective and existing clients it can become a significant challenge to maintain and build the illusion you are trying to create (i.e. that you are an established fully functioning business delivering client expectations and, no doubt, creating delight while doing so). Mobile phones have made things a lot easier and clearly their availability has contributed to the enormous upsurge in entrepreneurial dynamism we have seen in London over the past couple of decades. Still, it generally doesn't look good to only have a mobile phone number on your business card. So we usually have a landline number for our 'office' and therefore need some sort of answering service. We usually have to maintain most of the trappings of an established business - not that we really need them but we believe that this is what our clients expect. And in reality, of course it really is important that our clients should be able to contact us when they need to. Funnily enough if enough clients or potential clients are trying to contact you then the illusion doesn't really matter so much - you've got the clients and that's what really matters.


So let's consider the fact that what we really need is to be able to maintain communication with clients and prospective clients at all times (during business hours of course - don't forget work life balance). If we also consider that email has long since overtaken all other methods as the primary tool of business communication it should become clear that this is where our real attention should be focussed rather than, for example, actually going out and buying a fax machine just because all business cards have a fax number on them. Now, various means of accessing email while out and about have existed for years. Their common drawback is the loss of continuity of communication through the use of different email addresses and, more importantly, the fact that your sent and received items can wind up on different devices. You don't only need to be able to send and receive emails while out and about; you need to be able to access all the relevant history and files.


The answer lies in a properly configured MS Small Business Server, a Windows Mobile 5.0 handset and a laptop with a 3G data card. This really is all you need - maybe a PC or two in the office and another at home. With this set up you can keep all of your data -files, emails, contacts, calendar and so on in one place and literally access it from anywhere. This has been the dream for a long time; now it is reality.


If mobile phones have made a major contribution to entrepreneurship in the UK the emerging revolution in mobile email will open the floodgates. Anyone in business now needs to implement this stuff before the 16 year old next door spots his or her opportunity. You will find that this small investment in technology is actually far more worthwhile than the million other things on which start up businesses can be tempted to spend their money.

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