As a young entrepreneur, you’re surely more tech savvy than a typical business CEO. But do you really know how much the “cloud” can help you get a business off the ground while significantly reducing the start-up costs? Here are 5 ways the cloud can help:
Being constantly on the move can make communicating with your employees, suppliers and customers pretty challenging. Cloud services like GoogleVoice can give you a phone number than follows you from the office to your cellphone to your home with one voicemail box. Others provide online fax service that eliminate the need for the traditional fax machine and a dedicated phone line.
Many startups cut cost by having their employees work from the home. Of course, the downside of this is that face time and getting everyone together in front of a white board for a brainstorming session. However, online services like Campfire, for example, offer private chat rooms, through which you can invite clients or employees. Skype is a great conference calling tool that offers the ability to video chat as well as share your screen to step folks through a process or a powerpoint presentation. There are also plenty of ways you can share or comment on documents through services like GoogleDocs or ConceptShare.
You may not be able to afford a personal assistant, but you can get pretty darn close with online organizational tools. Online programs like Google Calendar let you share your calendar with your team and invite people to meetings. More powerful tools including Microsoft 365 bring the whole office software suite to your virtual office.
4. Data Security
If you have doubts about relying upon online services, don’t hesitate to use an online backup service. No need for that archaic “server room” and the requisite IT guy. Carbonite and IDrive offer unlimited plans at affordable prices. These services also allow you to access your information from mobile devices. Other services like Dropbox are also free and let you access project information from any computer or tablet device, which is a great backup plan. And you can also use it to share large files and photos with family and friends – just make sure you share the right folders with the right people!
Banking, book-keeping and even inventory management services are now available online. Dimewise and Wesabe, quickbooks online, online payroll from Chase and a variety of ERP systems like NetSuites might enable you to push off hiring that accountant.
James Kim is a writer for Choosewhat.com, which provides product reviews and test data for business services and products. Choosewhat.com’s goal is to help small companies make informed buying decisions on business solutions that help their business.
Photo Credit: © Tom Wang
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