We had one dial-up phone line and one computer. I know I’m dating myself here, but when I think about how I work online today, it still amazes me at how far we’ve come and how cool it is that small business owners can compete for attention on a more level playing field than in pre- and early Internet days.
I remember how excited I was when I bought a Zip Disk drive because I could store 100 MB of information! Now, if you manage your business in the Cloud, your storage capacity is unlimited.
During several conversations with clients last week, we discussed what tools to use for managing their business in the Cloud. It brought to mind a short ebook I read by COX Business on 5 Technologies Every Business Owner Needs.
The 16-page ebook covers:
- Accounting Software
- Marketing Automation
- How to Create a Technology Plan for your Small Business
- How to Choose the Best Cloud Service
- How to Create a Collaboration Culture
There are various recommendations in the ebook so you can research and find the best solutions for your business.
As a small business owner or solo entrepreneur, your needs differ from those of large businesses. It’s important to know what you need and that’s where the chapter on how to create a technology plan comes in. There’s a five step process for auditing your current systems, defining your needs and evaluating the available tools you may want to add to your business.
Some of the recommendations include:
I don’t recommend GoToMeeting for small businesses. It’s too expensive, clunky and out of date. Instead, I recommend using private Hangouts on Air so you can record your meetings. You can also use private Hangouts instead of Skype.
Dropbox is a wonderful cloud storage tool and you can easily share files and photos with your team or family and friends. I automatically save every photo from my phone to a folder on Dropbox via the Google+ app. I never worry about losing my precious images. I also share files with clients, colleagues and vendors.
I haven’t used Trello or Campfire so I can’t speak to how they function. I’d be curious to hear from you if you’ve used either of these online tools for your business.
These are just a few cloud-based tools recommended for running and managing your small or solo business. The Google suite of cloud apps, not discussed in the report, are my favorites because of the integration between Gmail, Drive, Calendar, Maps, Photos and Google+.
There are cloud-based tools for accounting, file back up, help desks, customer relationship management systems, office tools like word processing, spreadsheets, slide decks, and creating charts and graphs.If you have ever downloaded software to your computer, there's probably a cloud-based version now.
Once you do your technology audit, a simple search for “best cloud based business apps” will provide you with many options to explore and test. And, testing is important so you find the right tools for your specific business needs.
The primary benefit of all cloud apps is the ability to sync your content and business processes between your laptop, smartphone, and tablet.
You can manage your business on the fly, no matter where you are and are no longer stuck at a desk. For me, that is the biggest benefit of all. To be connected to my business when I’m out and about on an Adventure, is a freedom I couldn’t imagine 18 years ago.
Now, it’s time to take action.
If your business is not currently taking advantage of cloud-based apps, get the ebook, do the technology audit, figure out the best place for you to start and implement just one tool to test how you like it.
I’m curious, what cloud-based apps do you use in your business?
NOTE: This is a sponsored post. I am taking part in a campaign with Cox Business to help them get the word out about how they’re celebrating National Small Business Week throughout the month. Be assured that I never write about or promote anything I don’t believe in and everything I write reflects my own opinion and experience.