Keep It Moving

Profiles of Mobile Entrepreneurs

Packing Light
Check out what's in this entrepreneur's suitcase.

Diahann W. Lassus makes networking a priority-even if that means leaving town to attend a conference or board meeting. In fact, her affiliations with state and national business associations have made Lassus a regular road warrior. These days, she spends about 30 to 50 percent of her time out of the office meeting with clients and prospects, making professional connections, and speaking to audiences on subjects such as wealth management and women-owned businesses.

Lassus does all this and more as president and co-founder of Lassus Wherley & Associates PC, a wealth management firm in New Providence, New Jersey, that has a branch office in Naples, Florida. With sales exceeding $1 million and clients in 15 states and several countries, Lassus business has certainly given her a lot of practice running a business from a suitcase.

To keep appointments organized, Lassus relies on a cell phone, a Compaq iPaq, an IBM ThinkPad laptop and an Infocus LP projector. Says Lassus of her mobile arsenal, "[It] allows me to control my time effectively."

She connects with clients and family members with her cell phone, but also uses it to check "what the market is doing," she says. The iPaq is used for short day trips to handle e-mails and review files. It's all possible, Lassus says, because she can store so much information on the 2GB storage card she uses with her iPaq. "I can get a lot of work done on the two-hour train ride to DC from New Jersey without having to carry my ThinkPad," she says.

Of course, she does power up her laptop on longer trips, using it to read, send and respond to e-mails. She also uses it to show presentations with the Infocus LP. In fact, the laptop offers so much storage that it holds a copy of her entire investment software package, complete with her client files, so she can access it on the plane.

Worldly Goods
Where would this globe-trotter be without his mobile tools?

Truth be told, Mario Espino is hard to pin down. As founder of TotalCare Staffing Services LLC, a staffing business specializing in placing qualified nurses from other countries into U.S. hospitals, he's frequently on the go. Typically, he travels from his company's U.S. headquarters in Coral Gables, Florida, to its world headquarters in Manila, Philippines. He also visits independent contractors in Australia, Canada, India, Italy, Singapore, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Without mobile technology, Espino would never be able to maintain his globe-trotting schedule.

In fact, it's the only way he can stay in contact with his offices, contractors, employees and clients-such as hospitals or health-care facilities-and meet with nurses. His tool of choice? A Sony VAIO laptop, used for presentations and handling e-mail. "[It's] my office," says Espino. "It's my only computer." He also uses a CardScan business card scanner from Corex Technologies; it scans business cards from contacts he's met on the road into his Microsoft Outlook contact management system housed in his laptop.

Espino also uses three phones: A GSM triband cell phone that allows him to communicate with people worldwide and also connect with his laptop so he can respond to e-mails; a satellite phone that's used for emergencies, such as when he travels to areas where it's difficult to get a cell phone connection; and a third phone that he uses strictly in the Philippines. "My triband cell phone bill is about $2,000 to $2,500 per month," he says.

Then there's the BlackBerry PDA, which Espino relies on to send and receive e-mails wirelessly, and a personal contact management tool from Handspring. "I rely on my mobile and wireless tools every day," says Espino, whose company posted sales of $1 million last year. "I wouldn't have a business without them."

--Melissa Campanelli
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This article was originally published in the November 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Keep It Moving.

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