The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic rendered many business practices obsolete. These practices include:
- Face-to-face brainstorming sessions…
- Team building activities…
- and even the entire concept of the office…
But the global crisis has also accelerated the adoption of certain technologies that might be worth holding on to as the world comes out of the forced COVID lockdowns.
The cloud used to be such an obscure concept. After all, it was difficult to imagine an intangible, centralised location on the internet that stores data and hosts business processes.
But recent years have proved the numerous benefits of ‘moving your business to the cloud’. From remote collaboration to virtual classes, cloud-powered applications are creating some semblance of normalcy through these tough times.
Nowadays, almost all big corporations and multinational companies transact their business processes over the cloud.
Well, moving to the cloud does make perfect sense for large firms with seemingly unlimited budgets.
But what about small businesses?
Is the cost of moving worth it?
Is it time for you to do it?
This article, will give you seven ways you can use cloud solutions in your small business. After which, you will get a clearer picture of why you should at least consider moving some of your business processes to the cloud.
#1: Cloud Based Email
Are you still hosting your company’s email client on your own servers or using POP / IMAP to access your email?
Or you haven’t gotten around to creating personalized or individualized email addresses for your staff based on your own domain?
This is another area where you can maximize cloud services.
By moving your email hosting to a cloud-powered solution, you won’t have to manage or invest in servers to run your business email. The cloud service provider will now be responsible for that.
On top of it all, cloud based email hosting, based on MS Exchange, has a host of other advantages and benefits – for a list of the benefits check out our other blog article – Exchange Mailboxes versus POP3 Mailboxes.
By its very nature, cloud connectivity allows you and your team to collaborate in real-time to clients, suppliers and other staff members from anywhere in the world with internet access.
Services like those offered by Microsoft OneDrive, DropBox, and Google Drive, among others, allow you and your staff greater flexibility to work from anywhere and not be tied down to your actual office site.
Have you ever had a laptop crash on you and that important file is not recoverable?
Moving your data to the cloud can help prevent such headaches.
One of the central features of most cloud-based apps is automatic backup and recovery options. So, even if you experiences a power outage or hardware malfunctions, all it takes to recover your work is to move to a different device and download the file from the cloud and you can keep on working.
One of the more widespread applications of the cloud is for file storage.
Every business has a need for file storage. In fact, it is no longer advisable, to keep your client & employee data, inventory and financial information on physical, on-site archives.
Storing everything on the cloud will also allow you and your staff to access these files anywhere they are. If security is a concern, know that as the owner and administrator of your small business’s cloud, you have full control over who gets to access these files.
If you want to run a more sustainable business, moving all your files to the cloud can also empower your operations to go fully paperless.
Data security is one of the biggest reasons that small business owners have been cautious about exploring the cloud.
While this was a major concern when the cloud was still in it infancy and even today with some of the smaller players, the main players in the industry and have made giant leaps since then.
While you would still need to play your part in securing sensitive data, most cloud service providers have now equipped their products with extra security measures.
A common misconception surrounding cloud services is that it requires a considerable upfront investment. In reality though, cloud solutions are very scalable and can grow and shrink in conjunction with your business aims.
This means you can always pay for the services and access level you need for now. For example, you can start with paying for the smallest storage capacity and just move some of your files to the cloud, then as your business grows you can increase capacity.
Perhaps your business is seasonal, with more staff around the holidays or at certain times of the year. For those busy periods you can increase your cloud services and then in the slower times you can decrease it.
Thus cloud computing allows you to increase or decrease as to your own business demands.
While the pandemic may not have rendered brick and mortar stores completely obsolete, it has definitely increased peoples reliance on online shopping.
If you are running an online store or are thinking of moving your physical store online, cloud-based e-commerce platforms are the right way to go.
Platforms like Shopify, are simple to use and low cost, that doing away with an in-house store management solution is now a no-brainer.
Cloud-based e-commerce platforms are also a breeze to scale without the costly investment in the necessary hardware.
Now that you know how helpful cloud solutions can be for your small business, we’ll leave it to you to decide when is the right time for you to take the leap.
In any case, we are always here if you need more information on cloud solutions or if you require assistance in moving your business operations to the cloud. Feel free to contact us for a free no-obligation conversation to help you get started.