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Smartphones and tablets are key tools for modern business – but for small business owners, they can lead to unnecessary stress when staff rack up unexpectedly high mobile bills.

The latest range of 4G powered smartphones are perfect for small businesses on the go, offering quick and easy access to all the services needed to sell, service and market to customers.

However, Optus data shows when people switch from feature phones to 4G capable smartphones and tablets, activities like streaming video and sharing data heavy content often doubles as users take advantage of faster download speeds.

Without undertaking precautions, small business owners can be left to foot the bill.

With so many new 4G enabled smartphones hitting stores across Australia and many small businesses continuing to invest in them for their employees, the following tips will have small business owners on the road to reducing costs and avoiding bill shock.

1. Work out who your staff are calling

There’s a good chance the majority of calls you and your employees make on mobiles are to other people in your business. If you run a fleet business consider switching to a fleet plan. Fleet plans often allow your employees to call numbers on the same account for free and share data which can help you save each month.

2. Choose a plan with flexibility

We review our plans from time to time, whether it be accumulation of bite size downloads or downloading one big file on the go. However, there is a difference between plans which punish users for every additional megabyte used and plans which charge a lot for a little.

Be sure to survey the market and find the plan which allows for flexibility in data consumption, and doesn’t heavily penalise you for exceeding the limit.

For example, there are plans on the market which giver employees the freedom to use their phone without the fear of bill shock. Users who go over their plan limit for the month are moved up to the right level for that month only, for as little as $10, avoiding large excess charges.

2. Use WiFi when available

WiFi is increasingly available and often free to use. This means that smart employees can take the strain off their data plan by accessing secure connections when in hotels, airports and cafes. Staff can still get the job done, while making sure that the boss isn’t coughing up for unnecessary charges.

The key is to regularly remind your employees to use it so that it becomes an automatic habit.

3. Consider the power users

There is usually at least one employee who goes over their data allowance on a regular basis. Whether it’s because their role makes it difficult to control how much content is being downloaded and uploaded from their device, or they are simply careless with their usage. Identify who the power users are and in partnership develop a plan to keep them under their limit.

Make sure they use the tools that most companies provide to keep track of the monthly spend.

4. Be prepared to roam

Many small businesses get caught out when their employees travel overseas, thanks to exorbitant data roaming costs. However, there are several packs available on the market now that mean it’s easy to travel and work, without blowing the budget.

About the author

Ben White is the Vice President of Mobile Marketing at Optus.

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