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Running A Business from an iPhone

Have you ever thought you could run an online business from your iPhone? Well it is possible, although it may not be an ideal solution and it may not work for all types of businesses. Although, my philosophy is, if you don't try you won't know (yes, I realize this is not a universal philosophy).

I try to provide a few theoretical examples below, and the applications/services that you can use to run them. This article is not meant to be a complete how-to-guide, but hopefully it will have enough information to get you started.

Things you need
  • An iPhone with basic phone service, voice mail, data plan.
  • If you need a separate line for your business, you can talk to AT&T, or there are several VoIP options like Skype available. You can also use a Google Voice account to receive incoming calls for your business (not sure if there is Terms of Service issue here). The main problem with any of the VoIP services is that they generally don't work seamlessly.
  • An e-mail service to send and receive e-mails (note: Gmail works great, and it also gives you contact and calendar management. Although, several other options are available.)
  • There are several banks that offer iPhone applications for managing your bank account(s) online. Check the iTunes store for more information.
  • I would recommend buying or making business cards with your contact information. VistaPrint is a good source, but they tend to be pretty heavy in the up-selling on you on stuff you don't need.
  • I would also get an application for tracking/managing your business expenses. This will come in handy for tax reasons and writing off any business expenses (see an accountant for more information on what can and can't be deducted).
  • If you need to receive faxes there are applications/services available. Check the iTunes store for more information (service costs will vary).
  • If you need to manage payroll for employees there are applications/services available. Check the iTunes store for more information (service costs will vary).
  • As far as managing a web site with iPhone, I personally have not done it. Although, you can use an application like BlogBooster Free to manage your blogging service (such as Blogger) if its supported by this application.
Type of businesses:

Online Retail Store
  • Service like eBay eBay and PayPal PayPal both have iPhone applications. That way you can post your items, and manage payment of them.
  • You can use the camera on the phone to take pictures of items that you're selling
Real World Retail Store
  • If you're running a real world store, you can use service like Square Square to take credit card transactions from your customers (service costs will vary).
  • You can also use services Twitter Twitter and Facebook Facebook to promote your business using social networking.
Consulting/Sales Business
  • Besides some of the applications I mentioned earilier, you might need customer relationship management (CRM) application. Salesforce.com has iPhone application Salesforce. Check the iTunes store for more information (service costs will vary).
  • There are also several task management applications, like SeizeTheDay SeizeTheDay. Check the iTunes store for more information.
  • If you need to manage a great deal of notes, check out an application called Evernote Evernote. It has Mac/PC/Web/iPhone clients.
Notes:
  • I would encourage you to make sure that you have screen locking and file system encryption enabled on your iPhone (if available) before storing any business/client information.
  • If you're worried about losing your iPhone or getting remote data destruction services check out MobileMe from Apple.
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