Ways to Use a Smartphone to Start a Business

More people than ever are using their smartphones to start businesses. Today smartphones are the most popular devices used by…

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Smart Ways to Use a Smartphone to Start a Business

More people than ever are using their smartphones to start businesses. Today smartphones are the most popular devices used by small business owners, followed by laptops, this is according to the SME Landscape Report. In the report, 86% of small business owners said they use their smartphones for their business all the time, compared to 77% using laptops. Research shows that smartphones use is set to increase. About 20 to 22 million people in South Africa currently use a smartphone, which accounts for about one third of the country’s population. This number is expected to grow by more than five million in 2023. 

The evolution of the office

Previously if you wanted to launch a business, you had to invest in office equipment such as computers, telephone systems, printers and on-premise servers. These are not only costly to purchase and maintain, but have to be upgraded regularly to remain relevant. Thanks to advances in mobile app technology, most business activities and communications can now be done on a smartphone, at a fraction of the cost. This not only saves business owners money, but offers more work freedom than ever. Entrepreneurs are no longer tied to their offices but can work from anywhere, whether it’s home, a coffee shop or a co-working space.

The impact of tech on businesses

Access to the internet has drastically changed how we communicate, shop and transact, it’s also impacted how we run businesses. The good news is more South Africans have been able to access its benefits as Internet use continues to grow in South Africa.  Seventy percent of South Africans had Internet access at the start of 2022, according to Statista

For business owners, the Internet has made information more accessible than ever. Fibre Internet connectivity holds even greater benefits for businesses and makes the use of new technologies such as cloud-based business software solutions possible.

These solutions have given business owners easy access to almost any business tools you can think of; making it easier than ever to start a business. The SME South Africa white paper, ‘Advancing Technology Use Among South African SMEs to Accelerate Growth’, highlights the advantages of advantages cloud-based business software solutions which include access to new markets, reduced business expenses, improved efficiency and productivity, and greater competitiveness. 

Internet connectivity has also opened up new opportunities for entrepreneurs to launch digital businesses. These entrepreneurs are able to take advantage of the current e-commerce boom which has seen South Africans spend more money online.

For business owners starting out, below is a guide to key business functions that can easily be completed on your smartphone. Business registration

One of the first steps most entrepreneurs take after launching their business idea is to register with the CIPC and SARS as a taxpayer. Running a business that is compliant opens up many opportunities.  Registered businesses can pursue government tenders and contracts with large corporates. It also allows them to access government grants, funding and tax incentives. Finally, meeting compliance obligations can enhance a business’ reputation and credibility among customers, suppliers and investors. 

Both the CIPC and SARS make it easy for business owners to register their new businesses online on their smartphones. The registration process can be completed on the CIPC website. Thereafter companies are required to submit annual returns to CIPC to keep the company in business – this can be completed online as well. 

SARS allows taxpayers to register on eFiling to transact electronically and on their app. Taxpayers can complete and submit annual Income Tax Returns quickly and easily on their smartphones, tablets or iPads and receive their assessment.

Business funding and banking

It’s a good idea for business owners to separate their personal and business finances. To do this effectively business owners should open a bank account for their business. 

Financial institutions, such as banks, are making it easy for business owners to digitally manage all the transactions that come with running a business on their smartphones. This includes activities such as opening a bank account, applying for credit and managing the business’ daily affairs. Furthermore, business owners can easily access updated accounts, ensuring they keep track of their finances. 

Business owners that need financing to buy equipment, increase inventory or improve cash flow, can also easily apply for business loans online, using their smartphones. Once approved, you can either get the cash immediately or within 24 to 48 hours, depending on the lender. 


It’s critical for any business owner to maintain accurate financial records to have an accurate overview of their business. Keeping financial records is also a legal requirement for some companies. Additionally, accurate bookkeeping can help with tax compliance which is non-negotiable for all businesses. 

To ensure proper record keeping business owners must record all of the income and expenses their company generates. This information can be used to make forecasts, generate invoices, complete payroll, track and manage sales tax (VAT). These bookkeeping tasks were previously done on paper however, business owners can today use their smartphones to easily set themselves up with decent accounting software. 

Online accounting software has been groundbreaking for small businesses. It has introduced greater efficiency, clarity and accuracy to bookkeeping and allows entrepreneurs to work from anywhere. The benefits are highlighted  in the tech review ‘The Top Accounting Software in South Africa”

“Entrepreneurs are not only able to access their business’s finances at any time and place but are able to eliminate repetitive tasks like data entry and the calculating of tax, revenue and cash flow forecasts, among others.” 

Some of the key features your accounting software should have includes: billing and invoicing, budgeting/forecasting, expense tracking, financial reporting and tax management.  The software should also let you automate and speed up the calculations of business expenses such as tax and payroll.


Marketing is essential to the success of any new venture as it can expand your customer base and increase your sales.

It’s becoming increasingly important for all businesses to market themselves online as more of their customers search for products and shop online. To get the most from your marketing efforts, ensure that they align with your business goals whether it’s brand building, lead generation, product sales, customer interaction platforms, or any other purpose.

There are many online marketing channels that business owners can take advantage of such as social media, website, email, and influencer marketing. These channels can help your small business stay ahead of the competition and attract your ideal customer. Each of these channels plays a specific role in a marketing strategy. Most brands will have a website which showcases their products and services. Social media marketing uses social channels such as Instagram and TikTok to sell and promote your product or service. Similarly, email marketing uses emails sent to your database to do the same. Lastly, influencer marketing, which is still relatively new, involves online brand ambassadors to promote your business.

Business owners can also use digital tools on their smartphones to create, track and monitor the marketing campaign they run on each channel. However, to get the most from each campaign remember to do your market research to help you better understand your customers. This will help you create a better shopping experience for customers, build stronger brand loyalty, and ultimately increase your sales.


Sales is the main revenue source of a business without which a business would not survive. There are a number of sales channels available to businesses, including retail and wholesale. E-commerce however, revolutionised how we shop, and consequently how business owners can sell their products. Businesses no longer need to set up a brick and mortar shop and now have access to have potential customers across the globe. The technology has also significantly lowered barriers for entry. Setting up an online store is today more affordable, quicker, and easy to set up without any coding skills required. 

DIY website builders let aspirant entrepreneurs take their business idea online in a matter of hours. These builders are equipped with  pre-built templates to help you design your store, as well as functions required to operate a commercial website such as payment processing, security, SSL and other plugins. Some e-commerce builder providers come with e-commerce hosting and domain registration services.

Once your website is up and running, it’s important to prioritise the customer’s experience visiting your store, to ensure the success. 

“You might have the best product in the world, but if customer’s can’t move through the purchase journey on your e-Commerce website with ease, they will abandon their efforts pretty swiftly. 

“From product search, to clear product and shipping information and secure, hassle free payment, there are a number of points in the customer journey that always have to be on point.”


Customers want to be able to choose which method they use to pay you. Some of the most popular options in South Africa are cash, card payments or QR codes. Having multiple payment options has resulted in greater convenience for customers and increased sales for business owners. 

Point of Sale (POS) applications have been game-changing for small businesses by allowing them to accept card payments, something only big companies could previously do. POS systems work in combination with a card reader which connects to an Android/iOS smartphone or tablet. The hardware is paired with a business intelligence portal, which gives businesses real-time access to sales data, insights and analytics. Business owners can access these via  the POS dashboard using their smartphones.

Top POS Systems for Small Businesses

POS systems now also allow  businesses to accept card payments without the use of card machines. All businesses can accept online card payments on their websites, mobile sites and mobile app using a payment link. For businesses without websites the payment link can be shared on WhatsApp, email, Facebook or Instagram.

For greater efficiency, businesses should opt for POS software that can easily integrate with their existing business solutions, such as their accounting software, CRM, inventory management, and even their e-commerce website.