49% of Small Business Owners use a Smartphone

“Over the past few years, it seems that a few mobile devices — laptops, Bluetooth headsets, and increasingly, smartphones — have become ubiquitous among business people. The days of the pager are gone. Small business owners seem to be outpacing the rest of America in smartphone adoption, according to a recent survey of nearly 10,000 small business owners. While only 17% of Americans own smartphones, according to a recent Forrester study, a whopping 49% of small business owners are reported to own smartphones. Of those smartphone owners, 35% own BlackBerrys, 33% own iPhones, 25% own Androids and 7% own Windows Mobile devices. While the study didn’t include a comprehensive look at how small business owners are using their smartphones, we suspect that merchants are turning to mobile devices to stay on top of everyday business needs through e-mail, scheduling and calls. We’ve heard success stories from business owners who also tweet on the go, see the importance of location-based services, and are investing in mobile advertising.

If you’re a small business owner looking for a smartphone, don’t fall victim to the hype — know why you’re doing what you’re doing and make a smart decision. Here’s my perspective on selecting a smartphone…

#1. In many ways, the cellular provider you pick is more important than the phone you use in many cases. If you live in a large metropolitan area, this is kind of a non-issue but most Americans live in non-metropolitan or rural areas. An iPhone is worthless where I live because AT&T is worthless where I live. Before you select a smartphone, review the coverage areas of the network you intend to use and make sure coverage is good in all the areas where you do business and live…

#2. Having selected a network, the services you use should dictate the phone operating system you select. imho, all small business owners should select Google Apps for their business. Period. The Android phone operating system is developed by Google and optimized for Google Apps. BlackBerrys, iPhones, and Windows Mobile devices can all benefit from Google Apps but Android works best. My advice is that small business owners use Google Apps with the most powerful Android phone available from their carrier. Get the best phone you can afford…

#3. Having selected a carrier and a phone, find a rep at your cellular provider who has a clue. You may laugh, but finding a good rep can be a bit like Diogenes searching for an honest man. For me, my carrier is Sprint, my phone is an HTC Evo, and my rep is Cindy Otley at the Oneida Street store in Green Bay. For me, Cindy IS Sprint and she is a primary factor in my decision to stay with that carrier. She’s smart; she knows her company, their policies and the options they offer and she’ll work hard to help you select the plan and phone that will work best for you. I don’t make a move with Sprint these days without talking with Cindy. YOU need a rep like her, especially if you’re not sure about #1 and #2…

There was one more juicy tidbit in the post…

While only 12% of respondents said that they currently market their businesses through mobile — via mobile ads and apps, for example — other reports point towards an upward trend in mobile advertising budgets. In fact, spending on mobile advertising is set to grow nearly 50% to top $1 billion in 2011, according to eMarketer.” Source: 49% of Small Business Owners Use Smartphones [STATS]

More about that later…

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