Have you ever had a business meeting in another state and forgot to bring a specific document? Do you provide quotes to clients written on a scratch piece of paper in pencil? Do you ever find yourself frustrated from falling behind on entering financials while you’re working remotely? Cloud-based computing may be able to help.
Cloud computing small-business software lets you host all your company’s important information, including analytics and sales data on the internet so you can retrieve it from anywhere you have a secure connection. Not only can this help you improve your workflow, it can also give you a competitive edge over your competition. There are many available cloud solutions to assist your company with everything from marketing to payroll.
Organization and Information Sharing
If you’d like to lighten the load of folders and documents you need to carry around, running your business in the cloud can help you meet that goal. It can also enhance the value of your online information sharing. When you keep all your contracts, manuals, and documents in the cloud, information is simple to retrieve. It also reduces the time spent sorting through files and papers, and you’ll look more professional when you retrieve information quickly for a client while in the middle of a meeting. If you lose a piece of paper from a contract, it’s not quite as easy to locate as it is to find a backed-up file online. Also, storing information online reduces costs because you won’t have to buy expensive copying equipment and other machines to handle the data.
Dropbox is one example of an organization and information-storage application. This personal cloud-storage software service is available across all operating systems, so you can save all your files in one location online and sync them across all devices: If you prefer a Mac and your co-workers use a PC, everyone can still access the same files. Dropbox offers a free basic service for individuals with two gigabytes of storage space. If you need more space, it’s easy to upgrade to a pro or business account.
Project-management software lets you plan projects, organize teams, manage resources and costs, and meet goals for all of your projects all in one place. The greatest benefit of choosing cloud-based software over an on-premise licenced software is teams and individuals in other locations can easily access information quickly.
A project-management software program like Asana lets you manage a set of tasks across groups and makes it easy to communicate with one another to improve productivity. Asana is free to use for up to 15 members, which is perfect if you have a small business. Everything each member does online is easy to view by others, which creates accountability, and the timeline feature makes it easy to track goals and meet deadlines. Asana also integrates with Dropbox, so you can store and share files related to the project online.
Bookkeeping and Payroll
When you went into business for yourself, your goal was probably to focus on your passion and not spend hours sorting through financial statements. Like most small-business owners, you probably don’t have a lot of time to spend on bookkeeping and accounting. A cloud-based bookkeeping and payroll program provides a variety of tools to make money matters increasingly easy.
With QuickBooks Online, you can use your phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer to invoice customers, pay bills, manage your time, run reports, and even generate payroll cheques from anywhere you have a secure internet connection. QuickBooks also lets you track the money you spend and generate reports, so you can get a visual on your cash flow. When you offer services in the field, you can create estimates and give them to customers without calling into your home office. The cloud payroll software program grows with your business as you become more successful, so you can add features as you need them.
QuickBooks Online is accountant-approved and integrates with a variety of third-party applications like email. When you sign up your business, the program provides phone and chat support, plus a database of searchable articles, guides, and videos to give you a fast start.
Taking advantage of the various social-media platforms to generate leads and keep track of industry news could help you increase your business. Social media is where many of your customers are, so it’s important to create accounts and stay in touch. According to Sherpa Marketing, approximately 22.7 million Canadians had a social media account in 2017. To reach these individuals, a cloud-based social-media management program can help.
Hootsuite lets you schedule and prepare messages across many popular social-media networks in an instant. Through Hootsuite, you can look out for requests from consumers and prospects, watch for key trends, and keep up with the constant flow of information online without spending hours on each platform. The free version lets you add up to three social profiles; the paid version lets you add up to 10.
Like social media, inbound marketing changes the way you reach and engage your audience, particularly in regard to how you distribute materials to existing and potential customers.
HubSpot is one popular inbound marketing program that helps you attract customers who are interested in your products and services to you. With traditional marketing tactics, you probably made cold calls, spent money on advertising, signed up to give presentations at trade shows, and sent out thousands of emails that ended up in readers’ spam folders. With inbound marketing, you can use blogs, video tutorials, self-published books, and social media to draw customers to you. HubSpot offers marketing automation so you can transform your marketing from outbound to inbound.
It used to be that you had to gather everyone around the same table in the same location to hold a meeting: You had to work around schedules and often pay for team members in other locations to travel in for the meeting. Cloud-based video-conferencing programs make it easy for people across the globe to join you in live discussions using internet-connected devices.
Zoom is a free application for your small business that can host conference calls with up to 100 participants. Your participants don’t even have to register or create an account in order to use the application: You send out the URL of the meeting and they join by clicking the link.
Skype is another effective video-conferencing tool. The biggest difference is users must sign up, but chats and video calls to other members are free. You can also screen-share, record calls, and make phone calls to landlines and mobile devices anywhere at a low rate. Another benefit of Skype is you have the option to pay for a local number.
Whether you’re a small business without a physical location or a small start-up company that operates on a budget, there are a variety of cloud solutions that can help you grow your business, save time, and help you manage your workflow easier.