Not too long ago, starting a business required setting up an office with landlines, desktops and hard drives. You also had to consider your office’s location carefully and base yourself near your prospective customers.
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Cloud technology has revolutionised the business landscape, breaking down the constrictions of a bricks and mortar office. You and your staff can now access documents, tools, financial data and software online at any time, from anywhere, on any device. Essentially, all a small business needs to get going today is an internet connection.
Regardless of where you, your customers or your colleagues are based, cloud computing can be used to ensure that your business runs smoothly. Here are five reasons why the cloud is the perfect platform for small businesses:
Small businesses don’t have money to throw around. They have to carefully manage their cashflow and save where they can. One benefit of migrating your daily business operations to the cloud is that it can help you save significantly on operating costs. Cloud computing requires less physical server hardware, which means less power usage, IT support, maintenance and upgrade needs.
You could reduce your overheads even further and set up your new office away from expensive big cities. Or, you could even do without a fixed office space and work remotely, from home, a café or a shared office space. The Internet has given rise to a global marketplace which means you no longer have to be located in the same town, or even the same country, as your customers and prospects. You can target your audiences using a range of online channels – without ever meeting them in person.
Similarly, gone are the days when you had to visit the local bank branch to apply for funding. You can now access alternative finance providers online, as well as crowdfunding services like Kickstarter to raise the start-up funds you need.
Better collaboration and communication
Cloud computing makes collaboration between colleagues easy. Your team can seamlessly save and access files, enabling them to work from the same master document without any confusion. Cloud collaboration tools, such as Google Drive and Trello allow users to upload, edit and comment on documents in real-time – making it easier for people to work together on projects from multiple locations.
Plus, these tools enable you to follow what your employees are working on, allowing you to track and manage their individual progress. You can also choose to control access to certain documents and files if you need to, such as confidential employee information.
Online platforms like Skype, FaceTime or Google Hangouts make it easier to communicate with anyone, at any time, anywhere in the world. Recruitment processes have been made easier as you can find and even interview candidates online. You can also reach potential funders, business partners, staff, and customers without needing to install landlines or have a meeting room to host them in.
The modern workplace is increasingly mobile and accommodating of more flexible working arrangements. In many instances, your employees don’t have to stick to a prescribed set of work hours or be present in an office. It also means that you can manage your business on the go. Travel time between meetings doesn’t have to be wasted time and can be put to productive use.
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This increased mobility and flexibility feeds back into the cost savings benefit of cloud technology. With actual office space and hardware needs reduced to the bare essentials, your overheads will be minimal. Depending on your business, you could go so far as to implement a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) work culture and get employees to use their own smartphones, laptops and tablets.
A cloud-based business solution allows you to integrate with other cloud technologies. Your small business can take advantage of a range of specialised services that integrate with back-office operations, from marketing to customer service and accounting. When administrative tasks are integrated and automated, it gives you more time to focus on growing your business and hitting targets.
If you want your business to work smarter and faster, migrating your business to the cloud is a wise move. Cloud computing is not the working world of the future, it’s the workplace of today. The practical benefits of improved collaboration and financial management are numerous but ultimately, the cloud will ensure that your small business stays relevant in a fast-moving, competitive world.