Do you want to run a business while you’re on the road? If so, you’re in luck. I’m going to share some tech tools that let entrepreneurs do exactly that – and look like a million dollar company while doing it.
As I promised in last week’s column about running a business on the road, here are my tips about helpful business tools for self-employed full-time RVers:
Mobile Broadband of Your Own
RV park WiFi is hit or miss no matter where you stay or what it costs. Invest in the hardware and data required of your own mobile broadband connection. Most people connect with a personal hotspot device. I use that, along with a mobile RV satellite system. Having both enables us to run our businesses literally from anywhere, even without cell phone towers in the distance.
File Sharing and Backup
We haven’t owned a printer since we sold our graphics business in 2007. Everything we do is electronic and hardly any business communications need to be printed anymore. But we still need to get data of all sizes to customers and clients. We do it through cloud-based file sharing services like Drop Box and Amazon Web Services. Both enable us to safely and securely back up critical data and share files with others.
Free Conference Call
When you work for yourself it’s inevitable that one day you’ll need to do a live client presentation. We love FreeConferenceCall.com, which lets us hold voice or video conference calling with up to 25 individuals. The interface is easy and offers a ton of features like sending reminders, creating custom greetings, hold music, etc.
Credit Card Payment Reader / App
We have a website with an integrated storefront but customers often want to pay us on the phone or in person. Every entrepreneur needs a way to capture customers’ payment information with a reader like PayPal Here or Square.
From writing notes to client discussions to scanning and storing receipts, Evernote keeps daily business thoughts, actions and ideas in one place. It also syncs up data between multiple devices, from laptops to tablets to smart phones. A free version does the job just fine but if more storage space is required a nominal annual charge applies.
Grasshopper is a virtual receptionist that works with cell phones and landlines. It gives users a professional toll-free phone number with the ability to record custom messages for callers. Grasshopper is better than cell phone voice mail because it enables users to transfer callers to designated phone numbers during specific days and times. Users can also contact customers through the software, so you don’t ever have to give out a personal phone number.
Successful businesses are not built with a shoebox full of receipts. Real businesses use real accounting software. Many acclaimed accounting software packages are available both in desktop versions and online so that users can share data with accounting pros. We use Quickbooks Pro but other popular ones include FreshBooks and Wave.
Escapees RV Support Network
If you want to look like a legitimate business you need a legal domicile (similar to your chosen state of residency). Escapees RV Support Network has a long and respected history of setting up domiciles for full-timers. Not only can they set members up in Texas, South Dakota or Florida (all states that don’t require residents to pay income tax), but they support members in dozens of other ways like mail forwarding and building connections with legal, insurance and accounting professionals who understand the challenges of living the mobile life.
This is such an exciting time to be a vagabonding entrepreneur. Gone are the days of being bound to a sticks and bricks office with all the headaches that accompany it. With tools like these, now anyone with an entrepreneurial drive can hit the road today and have a huge backup support “staff” along for the journey.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.