English: Diagram showing overview of cloud computing including Google, Salesforce, Amazon, Axios Systems, Microsoft, Yahoo & Zoho (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Move your business activities to the cloud. It’s the sounding cry of a large percentage of successful new small businesses that have figured out that free accounting software is reasonable and that a large percentage of their business works better conducted online. From online accounting to online communication to online document storage and note taking, there are a number of free or very inexpensive cloud-based tools that make running a successful small business much easier.
Cloud solutions can improve convenience, adaptability, flexibility, and security. One of the points people make when discussing the benefits of moving their data to the cloud is that they can always have access to the most updated version of everything. From notes you want to jot for improvements, to orations documents that multiple employees need to be able to see and modify depending on new information, to accounting data that will influence how much you have to spend on materials, it can all be put in secure, online locations that facilitate this access.
No matter how stationary you think your business is, nor how opposed you are to multitasking or working on the go, there will be a moment where cloud computing could help. People are figuring out completely new ways to utilize the dynamism and flexibility that comes from being able to see and modify essential business files from anywhere using a tablet or smart phone every day.
The benefit for your small business might be something new and exciting like conducting a video chat meeting with multiple clients in multiple countries while also sharing data and presentation slides, all as you take a cab to the job site. Or it might be something much simpler but not less powerful, like automatically collecting all your accounting and transaction data in one place and giving your accountant remote access so he or she can do her job from her office without bothering you.
To be clear, you don’t need to try to figure out ways to force the issue with your traditional brick-and-mortar store. The steps necessary to conduct various activities based on the cloud should feel useful and organic. Those who are resistant to digitization and change won’t feel comfortable with moving to the cloud, so if you’re in that camp but you want to figure out if there’s anything you can gain from it, look at some of the popular options for small businesses and your specific business sector and think about if they could streamline a process or facilitate more useful information access. There’s almost always something your company could do to benefit from the cloud, even if it’s just using online accounting to automate bookkeeping and invoicing.
The cloud isn’t the solution for everyone or every activity. There are caringly situations and activities that you want to keep on your work computer or even just in paper. But online accounting is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what you can due to empower your small business to keep up in the changing landscape that it faces today.