Tech & Tools

How to Use Small Business Apps to Stay Connected While On Vacation

By Rieva Lesonsky

Many entrepreneurs have a tough time actually taking time off. According to an Office Depot survey, 66 percent of small business owners find it difficult to take a summer vacation. Among those that do take time off, half stay connected by working on their laptops and checking email on their phones (sometimes using small business apps).

Since going completely off the grid isn’t a reality for most business owners, the best bet for actually getting away from the office is to use technology to minimize work time and maximize family and friend time while on vacation. Here are three tech tools to help:

  1. Cloud technology

    Don’t waste vacation time trying to access data files you left back at the office. Instead, store everything in the cloud using a simple storage system, such as Google Drive, Microsoft Office 365, Dropbox, or Basecamp—which also have small business apps for easy mobile access. Make it easy for those still working to find what they need by creating a clear file-naming system, using folders, and making clear notes so anyone with access can easily find exactly what file they need (and they won’t have to bug you). If you’re worried about granting access, most cloud systems show you who last accessed a file and when—and they also track revision history. If you are trying to go off the grid for a few days, you can also use cloud storage to create a new file of projects to deal with when you get back.

  2. Small business apps

    Today’s technology makes almost every software program you use on your desktop or laptop available as an app on your smartphone or tablet. Program compatibility isn’t an issue these days, so it doesn’t matter what devices you and your team use. Download and familiarize yourself with small business apps for email, sales, accounting, project management, and photo viewing. Make sure you know which features aren’t available on the app to avoid surprises if an emergency comes up.

    Don’t skimp when it comes to technology—pay for extra data and storage on your mobile devices so you don’t get caught short. Check out convertibles, which are laptops with detachable or foldable screens that transform into tablets. Wi-Fi access can be a problem when you’re on vacation, so consider purchasing a PCS card for your computer from your phone provider. This will give you wireless access wherever you receive phone service. There’s an initial fee for the card and then a monthly fee for access, but the time you save and the reliability it offers makes it worthwhile.

  3. Project management

    If you work with others on your projects, whether in-house employees or outsourced freelancers, using a project management system can keep you organized. PM systems allow users to more easily manage projects, stay on track with deadlines, and remotely track current status. Online solutions such as Zoho Projects and Clarizen charge either a flat fee or per-user fee and allow your business to store and share projects in real-time so everyone works with the most current information available.

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