In 5 years time we will look back at this era and be blown away that some of us were questioning the value of small business cloud services. I cringe when I see people in forums and on social media jumping at the latest story about Amazon’s servers going down for 5 minutes. They seem to have forgotten about the times their hard drive crashed or they lost a USB stick.
The cloud is here to stay because the benefits are huge and so obvious they don’t need to be rehashed here.
Businesses that don’t embrace the cloud will be left behind. Businesses that do will gain an immediate advantage. It’s that simple.
Here are 10 ways you can embrace the cloud now.
Physical hardware is expensive and maintenance heavy. Ditch your ‘IT expert’ and use a simple solution like Google Drive which will automatically backup and sync your important files.
Backing up files to a physical computer is maintenance heavy, time consuming and risky (one location). I use Crashplan to automatically back up my files to the cloud.
3. Customer data
Storing your customer data in PC based software like Excel or MYOB means you can’t do anything with the information and it’s stuck on a computer somewhere. Zoho CRM is one of many great CRM’s that can store your customer data securely online where you can access it and use it from anywhere.
Software based project and task managers like Outlook or Microsoft Project means critical information is stuck on someone’s computer. I use free tool Trello for managing projects and tasks which enables me and my team to collaborate in real time from anywhere.
5. Accounting data
I promise not to give you accounting advice if you promise not to take IT advice from your accountant. Ditch your out of date offline accounting package for a modern, online alternative like Xero. Bank feeds come in automatically, it recognises common transactions and your data is available for you to access from anywhere to make better business decisions.
Ditch the notebooks and capture your ideas online where you can access them, add to them, search for them and share them from anywhere. My ideas would be lost without Evernote.
Google Docs is free and it enables your team to work on documents at the same time, live without issues. No saving, no backing up, no conflicted files – it just works.
Ditch the outdated and expensive physical infrastructure and go online. Online communication options range from simple services like Skype through to full online PABX systems.
Move your marketing online where you can create great content that helps the world and easily measure it’s effectiveness. I use WordPress for publishing articles, podcasts and videos on my blog and MailChimp to email my subscribers.
Once your services are online, you no longer need to spend hours doing manual reporting in Excel. I built Informly to automate the process of showing simple reports on how a business is performing.
Small businesses have 1 major advantage over larger ones and that is the ability to change quickly. Use this advantage now and cloudify your small business (yes I made that word up and it’s terrible).
What do you use the cloud for?
I’d love to know how you are using the cloud in your business, please leave a comment below.