Cloud Services For Small Businesses – An Essential Foundation That Equates To SuccessITFirst South Africa
“Starting a business is not just for Christmas.” So says Natalie Massenet, hugely successful entrepreneur and formidable businesswoman. But what did she mean, and what does this have to do with cloud services for small businesses?
The beginning of her quote above goes something like this: “Once you’ve started a business, you have to grow it and grow with it.” Those of us who have chosen to dip our toes in the – frankly – terrifying waters of a start-up business know that we need to be fully committed, make smart decisions, and move with the times in order to succeed.
That’s easy to say. But, in practical terms, how can a small business ensure that it is “not just for Christmas” and has the legs to grow and become a force in the world of business?
Smart Businesses Start In The Cloud
We’ve all had that friend who got funding for their business idea and promptly went out and bought a flash bakkie and top-of-the-range office furniture – all before his first sale!
It goes without saying that building a business from the ground up means paying close attention to your outgoings. In fact, one of the biggest reasons for small businesses going belly up is spending too much money, too quickly.
And this is exactly where cloud services for small businesses really shine.
Cloud services allow small businesses access to an enormous array of applications and services that would ordinarily cost them a small fortune to purchase, set up, and maintain. With pretty much every business requiring access to a telephone system, the Internet, email, accounting software, data storage and any number of applications, we can see how quickly the hardware and software (plus licensing) costs can mount.
Immediate Benefits of Cloud Services For Small Businesses
We’d like to highlight a few bite-sized chunks to show exactly how cloud services can be your new BFF:
- You don’t have to buy and install physical software.
Many cloud apps allow a simple download from an online source which you can install on your devices using a licence key. In most cases, you can scale up when you need to – adding more users as your business grows. Historically, some of the tech available which would have allowed small businesses to compete with bigger corporates was so costly, it was simply out of reach.
- Easy to collaborate and consolidate applications.
There are a variety of tools available which allow you to merge your business needs into one easy-to-use tool which your whole team can access from anywhere.
- Cut back or eliminate the cost of hardware.
Without the need for large servers, file storage, and backup hardware, you can free up space and money.
- No more maintenance.
With technology moving at the pace that it is, most software requires frequent updates. However, making use of cloud services means that this is someone else’s problem. You just reap the benefits of the most up-to-date tech without the headache.
- Less staffing costs.
IT brings with it the need for installation, configuration, and maintenance. Working from the cloud means that you don’t have to fork out for a team of IT gurus to keep you up and running.
- Accessible anywhere.
Flexible working requirements, travel and the growth of home-based businesses means that your team will need access to data and services from various devices, wherever they are. Thanks to cloud services, this is possible.
What Cloud Services Are Available To Small Businesses?
Where to start?
Hosted PBX Systems: One of the most common types of cloud services is Hosted PBX. Keeping your switchboard (PBX) in the cloud provides you with all the capabilities of a traditional hardware PBX without the capital and maintenance expense. Cloud PBX also allows you the flexibility to relocate your offices anywhere in the country without losing your numbers. A further benefit is the reduced charges with regards to local and international telephone call charges.
Google Drive: A free cloud-based service offering documents, spreadsheets, forms and so much more which can be accessed and shared with the click of a button. Online, live collaboration is a wonderful thing!
Dropbox: Cloud storage which can be shared with anyone. Safe, secure and always backed up!
QuickBooks: Need an accounting package? Here you go. Cheap, always up, flexible, scalable and incredibly easy to use. Just download it and view the financial health of your business on the run.
WeTransfer: A free (don’t you love that!) way to send large files which would ordinarily clog up your email. Send files up to 2Gb free to anyone, anywhere, and get notified when they are delivered and downloaded.
Skype: It’s been around for ages, but this free, online video and audio communication tool is proving more and more useful as businesses go global.
Trello and Asana: Free project management tools which are child’s play to set up and use, and are incredibly useful to keep track of all the balls you have in the air.
HubSpot: One of the smartest CRM tools out there, which you can link to your email client to keep track of your projects, communications, and data. It also offers a paid option which will revolutionise your marketing and customer communication.
There are so many other cloud-based services and applications available to small businesses; we have only scratched the surface.
Here comes the “but”…
What would you need in order to access these life-changing cloud services and make the best use of them in your business? Yes, you guessed it: an always-up, reliable, fast and affordable internet solution.
So, if you are determined that your small business succeed, no – flourish – and you want to start at the right place in order to build your empire, then we should chat.
Huge Connect, for all your voice and data requirements. Let’s connect.