Renting office space in a good area can be expensive. But even if your company can afford to rent office space, could that money be better used elsewhere? In the digital age, many businesses can be run entirely on the cloud. With the right set of free and low-cost cloud-based tools, you can create and launch a business, organise your team, and start serving customers and clients directly from your laptop and smartphone or tablet. Here’s a list of some of the tools that can help you run your company on the cloud effectively.
In the past, business owners paid lots of money for physical space to store all the paper documents their companies generated. These days, all you need to reduce paper clutter to zero is a scanner and cloud storage space. Services like Dropbox, Mega, and Microsoft OneDrive provide users with secure storage space on the cloud, eliminating the need for filing cabinets and rooms to keep them in.
Typically, cloud storage services offer users a certain amount of storage for free and then may charge a small fee, depending on the amount of extra space you use. The nice thing is that you can store a wide range of file types on the cloud, including contents of a database, photographs, other types of graphics, and video footage.
Is it possible to have three, 30, or even 300 team members spread across India or worldwide working together to fulfil your company’s mission? With project management software, the answer is yes. Software like LiquidPlanner and Teamwork, among many others, give you the tools needed to:
- Organise and schedule projects
- Set and shift deadlines as priorities change
- Assign tasks to team members
- Track your projects from start to finish
- Communicate seamlessly with team members and clients within the software
Multiple team members and clients can access the software simultaneously. The only things they need to engage with your company through your project management software of choice are a laptop and a high-speed internet connection. So if your company based in Bangalore designs software and your best software developers live and work in Mumbai, for example, project management tools make it possible for your company to benefit from their contributions.
In the digital age, face-to-face meetings still matter. Even if you’ll eventually travel to meet an employee or client in person, video conferencing is a great way to initiate contact. Business tools like Skype and GoToMeeting use your laptop’s webcam and speakers to view, be viewed, and converse with one or multiple groups of people anywhere in the world. You can also show materials you’ve prepared on your computer to video conference participants.
Free and low-cost offers vary among video conferencing service providers. Tools like Skype are free when you communicate with users who also have Skype accounts. More robust tools like GoToMeeting may offer a free trial and then charge a nominal fee based on the number of people in your company using the service.
Bookkeeping and accounting are vitally important to business success. To stay on top of these tasks, consider cloud accounting software like QuickBooks. To use the service, you simply open an account and access the software’s powerful tools with your username and password. You can store all of your financial data securely in cloud accounting software and even give access to trusted team members like your accountant. Some of the many bookkeeping and accounting tasks you can do with cloud-based software include:
- Creating and sending invoices
- Paying bills
- Paying employees
- Tracking inventory
- Compiling the records needed for filing tax returns, including goods and services tax
A significant benefit of cloud accounting software is that you can access it 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You only need your smart device and an internet connection to log in and check on your company’s financial health.
You can also make connections and share information about your business and brand on the cloud. Social media scheduling tools like Buffer and Hootsuite ensure you’re a regular contributor to “the conversation” taking place among members of your target market on various social media platforms. Scheduling tools are vitally important because regular contributions boost your credibility in social media spaces.
Websites like Facebook, Google +, and LinkedIn provide a place on the cloud for you to network among your peers and share thought leadership on topics important for your industry. Getting to know professionals in your field on social media platforms like these can establish you as an expert, which helps you grow your business. Some of your networking and marketing activities may eventually lead to offline interactions, but these trustworthy websites provide a safe and secure space to build your reputation and establish yourself as a leader and an expert in your field.
Running your business exclusively on the cloud can improve work-life balance for you and your team significantly. At least half of India’s workforce prefers telecommuting, indicating that it may be easier than you think to convince your employees to pack up their laptops and work from home — or from their favourite neighbourhood café.