Wired for…everything!

This week we welcome guest blogger Angie Porter to Small Business Owner. Angie is an Aussie ex-pat who’s just set up her new business SearchLab in London. Please make Angie feel welcome!

blog_cansToday I want to talk about something thing that’s made my life so much easier – my new Google phone, or G1 as it’s also known.

I can check emails, do my banking and buy groceries when I’m on the train – in fact, wherever I am. The funny thing is, I used to look at those people on the train ‘playing’ with their phone and think – how sad – can they never relax? Now I’m ONE OF THEM!! So far I’ve refrained from taking my phone to the gym and surfing on the treadmill, but this day is not far off…

There are so many applications to download, it’s completely mind-blowing. My partner and I got our new phones on the same day and spent a whole weekend just mucking around with them. Sad? No…so far I have used my phone as a jukebox, GPS, voice recorder, camera, whoopee cushion, hypnotherapist, translator, fertility tracker, stopwatch, thesaurus, TV, spirit level and motivator (downloaded Obama’s address to congress). Brilliant!

Many, many more applications become available everyday, but it can quickly become overwhelming and I wonder how long this honeymoon period with my phone will last (one month and still going strong!)

So, enough about how my G1 has changed my personal life…what’s it done for my business?

Well, it’s fantastic for people whose online networking activities play a major role in their business. I can Twitter and get Facebook update alerts straight to my phone. I can stay fully up-to-date with clients and colleagues through a LinkedIn application. I can also write blog entries when I’m out and about or even update my website.

Any sales from the website alert my phone from my email, so it’s much easier to keep fully aware of all sales activity. And I can easily log into Google Analytics through the phone and check my website statistics.

A key feature of the Google phone is the pop-out keyboard for writing text on the phone. It’s by far the easiest phone to write longer amounts of text. The instant connection to Google Calendar and Gmail features is also great – especially if you have an existing Gmail (or Googlemail) account.

Calendar alerts mean meeting management just got a whole lot easier, especially when I’m not at my computer. Having trouble finding a meeting is no longer an issue – the built in GPS gives me directions from any location. My contacts are all stored in my Gmail account – so as long as the phone is on, I can access all my contacts’ details and update them.

But what really makes my G1 phone special are the applications. The various task list applications are great and I can use them to organise my to-do lists and write notes for my book. I use the Facebook and LinkedIn applications and also a spreadsheet application to keep track of my business outgoings. I also use a voice recording application to record important interviews.

But most of all, the G1 phone helps me run my business by keeping me fully aware of all the activities on my website, and in online contact with all my clients through my networking sites.

But hey, not everyone’s perfect. One thing that’s really NOT good about the phone is that it only really works in the UK. Next week I’m going to a friend’s wedding in France for a week. I was really looking forward to taking the phone, but when I found out the cost of keeping connected I thought, ‘I can’t even afford to turn it on!’ – it’s ridiculously expensive. In truth though, the fault in this case lies with service provider. I’ve seen some suggestions on the Internet to get around this and I’ll continue to explore if there are any global mobile phone service providers.

Some people might groan at the thought of being permanently attached to their business, but I don’t really see any disadvantage (at the moment) to being fully ‘wired’ to my business. I enjoy the freedom of not having to be tied to my desk, and I love that I can provide a high level of service to my clients and be as responsive as if I was in the office.

What are your thoughts? Are you ready to take the plunge? Or if you have already, how are you finding it? Am I going to eat my words down the track?

  • Dear Angie, many thanks for your ace post. This is the first time I’ve seen the G1’s attributes explained without hype or vitriol.

    As a proud owner of a Nokia 2100 (I’m currently fielding offers from a telecommunications museum!) I’m a long way down the evolutionary tree. The fact that Fonnie’s fancy-schmancy Swarovski-crystal-studded phone has given us nothing but grief for two years is another reason not to change. Yet your piece has got me thinking. And that’s a very good start. Best regards, P. :)

  • Hi Angie and thanks for the post.

    I love the convenience of my HTC Touch Pro with Windows Mobile, for being able to receive & reply to emails, update Facebook, use internet banking etc without the need to turn on a computer. Far from the perception that it makes me ‘too connected’, the convenience actually gives me more freedom. It enables me to fire off quick replies to email requests and know they have been responded too, without needing to sit in front of a computer. During a week-long activation with the SES for the Brisbane November storms, I could stay on top of my workload. That’s no small feat when you run your own business and many of my fellow SES returned to work to spend hours just sorting through hundreds of emails.

    I know there will be cries of ‘but I dont want to be bothered with work emails when I’m not at work’ … simple, turn off the email connection on your phone during your weekend/holiday/whatever.

    I must admit to having a little ‘iPhone envy’ purely due to the many cool applications, esp the ones that take into acocunt the phone’s movement sensor. Can someone please develop a spirit level that runs on Windows Mobile 6? :)


  • Welcome Angie & thanks for the post.

    I hate mobile communications with a passion (except for safety purposes)…so obviously I’m a blatant hypocrite :- )…because I’m sitting here blogging with my mobile on my desk next to my computer and my ‘Twitter’ page open… :- P

    Call me a ‘philistine’ but I have not yet found an ‘affordable’ means of obtaining the level of functionality that you been enjoying. My phone could cook my dinner and produce a documentary on the making, but I have not been able to afford the data charges…so it is just a pre-paid phone with a virtual mountain of potential. Not that all such functionality is necessarily applicable to my particular business…especially given that it isn’t actually trading yet. So I may have both different views and a different bank account in the coming months.

    I also have Skype. Sadly, for a country that can remarkably boast the world’s 14th largest GDP whilst ranking 53rd in population (http://www38.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=Australia), we yet seem to be relegated to the ‘economy’ section of the good ship ‘global communications capability’. The examples you site are indicative of the challenges faced here. Roaming (especially Internationally), remains in most cases prohibitively expensive for many small business owners; especially those in a similar position to me (i.e. start-up mode). Both Skype & Twitter have some great mobile services & applications, but they are not yet available in good ol’ ‘Osstraalya’.

    Do you think that these mobile communications are lowering barriers to entry and overheads for small business or are they just raising the expectation bar on the part of customers and enticing small business to speculatively invest in such technologies by dint of ‘perceived’ necessity?


    Stephen G

  • On the subject of iphone envy I must admit my friend had the new Apple iphone and after a brief demo from her I got thinking about my old phone. Not wanting to just jump on the Apple wagon, I jumped on the Google one instead!

    I actually was really hesitant to pay out for a long and expensive contract but in the end I found another friend who wanted to get the same phone so we rang the phone company and negotiated hard (I would recommended you do this). Mobile phone providers are keen to recruit new customers and in my experience 35 a month can mean 20 a month with a bit of good negotiating. The young people at university had standard contracts of 35 and 40 a month and to them seem to just see it as a necessary expense. In terms of what a good phone can bring to your business I think the investment is worth it.

    To answer your question Stephen about costs I use a lot of free web based applications to run my business (zoho, weebly, wordpress, YouTube, Google analytics) and I think its cheaper than ever for small Startups to compete. Only 10 – 15 years ago we would of had to pay out big money for a Yellow Pages ad, print some brochures maybe some radio…advertising and marketing costs were huge. As small players we are more flexible and can leverage the viral effects of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube with potential customers in a way that larger businesses find difficult, and its free! I understand the worry about being “too connected” and in some ways it can be more challenging to keep a work life balance but it will always be good marketing to keep a conversation with a client (or other stakeholders in your business) going. PS I reckon aussies are usually at the forefront of these kind of technologies and if the Skype mobile service isn’t there yet I suspect its because not up to scratch yet. It must be one of the only web services I still can’t use on my G1 so I’m still stuck here in the UK!

  • Hi Angie (& folks),

    Thanks buckets…that’s a great and helpful answer :- )

    As I understand it, good ol’ ‘Osstraalya’ has a history of being at the forefront of a range of technologies…It seems we’re really good at thinkin’ stuff up – ‘Hills Hoists’, Lawn-Mowers’, New Zealand (Hehe! Couldn’t resist :-)…we just seem to be crap at floggin’ ’em. So we end up standing on tippie-toes trying to see over the counter in the global ‘user-pays’ queue, waiting to cause a blip on the ‘economies of scale’ radar of whoever bought and distributes the technology we invented…go figure! 😛

    Oh and funnily enough, my ‘Yellowpages’ ad is driving most of the traffic to my new website…not that this is any great claim in terms of actual numbers…I was just surprised.

    Anyway, thanks again :- )


    Stephen G

    PS Skype is here alright, but some of it’s most useful services (e.g. calling from Mobiles etc), hasn’t been deployed here yet. Same goes for Twitter & even some Google stuff (as far as I know)…I’m not sure about G1s, I haven’t had a look at that one yet…

  • Stephen, was just wondering…
    If you are getting traffic from the Yellow pages ad going to your website, how you know that its coming from this offline source? cheers, ange :-)

  • Hi Angie,

    That’s a good question. I’ll have a go at answering it:

    Every Webhost (that I have encountered), offers a set of ‘web admin’ tools often referred to as the ‘back-end’ or ‘admin’ area.

    My webhost uses CPanel (which is often used on Linux based servers). As a Domain Owner, my CPanel ‘back-end’ looks like this – http://x3demob.cpx3demo.com:2082/frontend/x3/index.html?post_login=56117672365822.

    In here is a section called ‘Logs’, wherein are a range of different Web Analysis Tools including ‘Awstats’,’Webalizer’, ‘Raw Access Logs’ et al…

    Also, Google Analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics/), offers a comprehensive range of ‘free’ web statistics that are so detailed you can almost find out what color hair your visitors have :- P.

    I don’t use Google Analytics simply because I have no need. I don’t need to micro-manage my little website. My standard webhost stats are more than adequate. In fact, I hardly use my Web Stats at all…I simply have no need at this point. Even on large professional projects I’ve found web stats to be very open to interpretation and often misinterpreted at the expense of users & ROI.

    I tended to assess our websites based on my own personal interaction with the websites and our users. I found that if you actually engage with your own websites & users and ask the right questions, folks are only too happy to provide pretty rapid and useful feedback (This blog is a fine example of this kind of interaction – Paul is a rarity, but clearly engaging with his audience as he does generates meaningful conversation and good web stats…and good web stats make happy ‘Megans’ ; -). I think we’ve covered ‘Feedback’ and stuff like that in a recent blog of Paul’s called ‘Feedback to the Future’ – https://www.myob.com/au/blog/feedback-to-the-future/.

    In my ‘Awstats’ page, I just select ‘Referrers’ from the menu, which takes me to page headed ‘Links from an external page’. This presents a list of all the URLs that have links to my site, and how many times these links have been used to access my site in a given time period.

    Imagine what I could find out if I was paying for targeted/extra analytical services. You seen the results of such services which now track our individual web usage (using our IP addresses mostly), and then present individually targeted advertising on sites we visit, based on sites we have visited and our web usage tendencies. Pretty scary stuff in the ‘wrong’ hands? We touched on this too in ‘Feedback to the Future’ – https://www.myob.com/au/blog/feedback-to-the-future/.

    Anyway, I hope goes some way toward answering the question…


    Stephen G

    Here’s an example –

  • Sorry, the continuity of my previous blurb is a bit clunky…I hope you are able to muddle through…as I obviously did :- P.


    Stephen G

    PS I have no idea what ‘Here’s an example – ‘ is doing there. Just a bit of fall-out from ‘impromptu’ writing I suppose :- P

  • Thank you for the mention in dispatches, Stephen. Support like yours makes this blogging caper a thousand times more satisfying. :)

  • ok cool. I get it sounds like the traffic comes from Yellow pages online yeah?
    cheers, angie

  • Speaking from personal experience, I tried several of the so called “free voip services” and i can honestly say that nothing beats a paid service through an Internet Phone Service company. The support is so much better and you still save a ton of money over traditional phone service.