In recent years, innovation has sped up, changing the way small business owners, such as franchisees, deal with day-to-day tasks and reach consumers. While the rise of mobile devices, including smartphones and tablet computers, has proved useful for on-the-go franchisees, the app market it spawned is helping to streamline processes for their employees as well.

According to a new study from, 71 percent of small and mid-sized businesses are "mobile businesses" - those who work outside of the office more than 30 percent of the time - implementing mobile and wireless solutions to help workers complete company tasks outside of the office. The study found that mobile employers average 56 hours outside of the office per week.

"As our study indicates that more SMB mobile professionals are connected via their smartphones and tablets, this enables them to work outside of the office more seamlessly, and encourages mobile professionals to nurture a connection with their local communities," said Godfrey Phillips, vice president for research at The Business Journals. "In fact, 74 percent of SMB owners believe that it's crucial to be actively involved."

Additionally, individuals investing in a franchise opportunity may want to take heed: Technology adoption seems to boost businesses' bottom line. The study noted that mobile businesses saw higher sales. In 2010, they netted $10.8 million - nearly twice as much as those companies yet to go mobile.

Smartphones and the app market have been two drivers behind the increased mobility of small businesses and franchisees, connecting them with helpful tools and advice with the swipe of a finger or a touch of a key.

A recent article from writer Reid Kanaley for the Philadelphia Inquirer singled out a few apps that every business-minded individual should download to their mobile device.

First, he recommends the Harvard Business Review Today. It costs $2.99 for the iPhone and offers insights from business and managerial leaders, as well as podcasts and videos, including "The Business of Humor," "What Capitalism Can Learn From the NFL" and "Dancing Into a Turnaround."

Entrepreneur magazine also offers a free app for both the Apple iOS and Google's Android platforms. The app provides subscribers with every issue of the magazine, videos and blog posts and, according to Kanaley, covers "starting and running businesses, franchising, and all the financing, technology, and employee issues that are associated with entrepreneurship."

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