mobile-apps-save-money	|	Photo Courtesy of	Depositphotos.com	http://depositphotos.com/13570796/stock-photo-tablet.html?sqc=46&sqm=2549&sq=1aow03 Social media makes many small business owners nervous, as does interacting with users through their mobile devices. For many SMBs, mobile interaction represents more than a new technology; it’s a new paradigm. They don’t want to make costly mistakes, invest resources in a fad or risk embarrassing themselves because they don’t understand the unwritten rules. But SMBs need to take another look at how they engage with people who rely upon their mobile phones today. They simply can’t afford to miss the mobile bandwagon, according to a recent article on tech news site Wired.com.

The key is to understand how to interact with the growing number of people who rely upon smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices for digital content and online tools. The average smartphone owner has 28 apps installed, and paid for six of them, according to 2012 research cited in an article on Wired.com. The average owner used 11 of the apps within the last 30 days, spending an average of over two hours per day.

Even new businesses can use apps to reduce overhead, increase user engagement and significantly boost profits. In a 2012 study of small business owners by the Small Business and Entrepreneur Council, 78 percent of respondents said using mobile apps saved approximately 5.6 hours (a median of 4 hours) per day, the Wired.com article reports. Translated into dollars, the study estimated the savings came to $14,317 per year.

Still, for some businesses, cost presents a barrier to engaging with mobile apps. Developers can charge $5,000 to $35,000 to create an app, according to the Wired.com article. However, tools are available that give tech-savvy owners the chance to try their hand at creating one for free.

If you’re uncertain about how to engage with mobile-device users, start by using apps on your own to learn the format’s basic expectations and etiquette. Talk with your peers and contacts at small business organizations about how to deploy and leverage apps, focusing on what’s worked well for them. Going through an IT consultant may be another option to consider.

While mobile apps haven’t supplanted traditional marketing and advertising, small business owners must know how to stay up-to-date with technology. The key is to understand and interact with users increasingly reliant upon the digital world through smartphones, tablets and other devices. Mobile apps can also offer a great supplement to your business. Anything you can do to add more value to your service or product can help you stand out from your competitors and help you grow your business.

Here’s something to consider. What could your small business do if it saved $14,000 by going mobile? Join the conversation in the comments section below.

Source: Wired.com, April 2013