The Business Journals recently conducted a study on the use of iPads in small businesses.  The findings indicated that the use of iPads in small businesses substantially increased from 9% in 2010 to 34% in 2011.

According to Godfrey Phillips, Vice President of Research at The Business Journals, “Our research has shown that for small business owners, productivity and efficiency, which used to be the central benefits of technology, are now declining in importance compared to accessibility”.

So, how can iPads help you run your small business?

Take it from the following small businesses that have benefited from the use of iPads:

Jackson Kayak

In 2004, Eric Jackson and his partner Tony Lunt started Jackson Kayak, the leading whitewater kayak manufacturer.  During the company’s first year in business, it managed to secure $1.5 million, selling a total of 2,500 boats.  Since 2004, the company has sold almost 8,000 per year with sales expected to continue increasing.

To produce successful products, Eric Jackson spends a great deal of his time following kayaking events and competitions, and even entering himself.  With this constant traveling, Jackson finds himself trying to keep up with the day-to-day operations of the business.  Many decisions need to be approved by Jackson himself and if he is at an event, those decisions could take days.  Today, Jackson Kayak’s smooth operations are largely attributed to their extensive use of Apple iPads and iPhones.

In the article, Rapid results with iPad and iPhone, Jackson says “For my business, the one-two punch is iPhone and iPad.  With these two devices, I can run my entire company.  I’ve literally got my office with me at all times.”   Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are a few of the apps that Jackson uses to conduct business anywhere and anytime.  Essentially, the iPad has given Jackson the accessibility that was lacking during his travels and has implemented the use of iPhones and iPads in the factory as well.

Safe/Sea Marine Rescue

Based in Rhode Island, Safe/Sea Marine Rescue provides towing, salvage, and general assistance to recreational boaters up to 25 nautical miles south of Block Island.  Since its founding, the company has grown to include six specially designed rescue towboats with thousands of people paying an annual membership fee for free help and towing.

With the integration of the iPhone and iPad, Pete Andrews, the co-founder and owner has been able to dramatically change how the company operates.  Andrews explains, “Early on, somebody had to be chained to a desk with a copper phone line and hard-wired marine VHF radio, so we could listen for calls-for-help from boaters”.

Now, they have been able to go almost completely paperless by the use of FileMaker Go, to send receipts and store billing information.  WeatherBug, Radar Pro, and iHurricane HD helps keep track of storms.  This helps towboat captains assess the situation at hand.  They have also integrated the use of “Tide Graph HD on the iPad to chart the ebb and flow along the coast”. 

“As a business owner, iPad helps us take our mind off the mechanics of getting employees the information they need to do their jobs”, says Andrews, in Shipshape with iPad and iPhone.  “When you’re in a business where people can get hurt, it’s important to focus on the services, not on the administration”.

Apple’s Volume Purchase Program

Fortunately, Apple launched a program called the Volume Purchase Program (VPP), which allows companies to buy Apps in bulk and distribute them easily to employees.

To get started with the program here is what you need:

As a business owner, you must decide if using an Apple iPad, or any Apple product, will improve operations.  For some businesses, it may not be the right time to extensively use iPads like Jackson Kayak and Safe/Sea does.  Based on the type of business you own, determine if the use of iPads will benefit your business or if they will be too much of an expense.

Check out the full post on Getting Started with Apple’s Volume Purchasing Program (VPP) for Apps.