As you might be able to tell by the title, this article will talk about the cloud and small businesses. Those of you that are business veterans may know a bit about the cloud already. For newbies, your knowledge of it may be limited. You’ve probably only heard of the cloud when you’re backing up photos or documents.
What many people don’t know is that the cloud is much more than a storage space. Yes, cloud storage is very good and important for business. However, there are many other uses that a business can get from cloud-based services. The fact is, all of the big business are utilizing the cloud every single day. Whereas, small businesses aren’t making as much use out of it.
Why is this? It’s because small business owners don’t think they need to use cloud services. They don’t see the point and think it’s a waste of money. So, in this piece, I want to address this argument. I’ll take a look at the cloud and see if it’s worth small business investments. By the end of the article, we can see whether or not small businesses & the cloud are a match made in heaven.
What Is The Cloud?
To start things off, it makes sense to define the cloud. It’s a term you’ve heard a lot and will hear a lot more, during this article. When I use this term, I’m referring to a virtual network of servers. Virtual is the key word, the cloud isn’t a physical thing. You can’t take a trip to it, or open it up to see what’s inside. These servers all provide different functions for users. They could be used for storing data, running applications. I won’t dive into too much detail here, as that’s not the purpose of my article. If you want to learn about the ins and outs of the cloud, then there are many articles out there to read.
So, you now have a brief understanding of what the cloud is. But, you’re probably wondering how your small business can use this, right? Well, I have a list of ways that a small business can utilize cloud services. I’ve presented it down below:
How Can A Small Business Use The Cloud?
It may surprise you how many ways your small business can use the cloud. In fact, you can even use the cloud to start a small business! A popular trend is starting a business that sells existing cloud services. With the help of a cloud management platform, you can keep tabs on everything you do. So cloud computing can actually give you a business idea!
But, if you have an existing small business, there are lots of ways you can use the cloud for good:
Secure Data Storage
Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first. Yes, the most common use of the cloud is for data storage. It offers your small business a fantastic way to save memory on your devices. Instead of packing your PC with data and documents, you can store them in the cloud. As a result, your hard drive isn’t clogged up, and you can improve computer performance as a bonus! But, the best reason to use cloud storage is that it’s totally secure. Storing data in virtual servers is far better than storing it in physical ones. Someone can easily hack into a physical server, while a virtual one is better protected. If you run a business that generates loads of data, then cloud storage is an absolute must.
Plus, it’s a great way to backup data as well. Let’s say you don’t have much business data and can store it all on an external hard drive. What happens if that drive breaks? All your data is gone. But, back it up to the cloud, and it’s there no matter what breaks.
Cloud computing gives you the ability to run applications online. While this may sound like a boring thing, it has plenty of uses. With cloud applications, everyone is connected. A good example of this is Google Docs. It’s an app you can run online, and it works like any other word processing software.
This enables your employees to work on the move. Let’s say they’re in the office working on a computer. They’re using generic office software that they don’t have on their computer at home. So, they can only do their work on your office devices. But, with cloud apps, they can run them on any device. So, they can work from home, or work on the bus, etc. It encourages mobile working, which is great for business.
This third use combines elements of the first two uses. Cloud computing allows you to share information in a secure manner. Whether it’s with employees or clients, the cloud can make it happen. There are two ways in which you can do this. Firstly, you can create shared folders in your cloud storage. You get to choose who has access to these folders. It’s a great way of giving your clients important data and documents, no matter where they are. Simply send them the link to the shared folder, and they can access it. Even if someone else gets their hands on the link, they won’t get in, as you’ve chosen who has permission.
Secondly, information sharing is relevant in cloud-based apps. You can create documents and then share them with your employees. All you have to do is tweak the sharing settings within the app. You can decide what people with the link can do with the document. They can have permission to view it or edit it. This is fantastic for improving office collaboration.
What Are The Benefits Of The Cloud?
After reading how your business can use the cloud, it’s time to see the benefits it can bring you:
A Much More Secure Business
Cloud computing makes a business far more secure. By backing up data, you won’t lose any important things ever. You also make it harder for people to steal your documents when they’re in cloud storage. You may not think it, but a secure business is very important to small business success.
There’s no denying that productivity can improve thanks to cloud software. Mainly, it’s all down to the cloud applications. As I mentioned, they encourage mobile working. Your staff can work anywhere, and so can you. This means you have a chance to get so much more work done, every week. There’s also the possibility of getting rid of generic working hours. People can work from home and where they feel most productive. Some people work a lot better when they’re out of the office and not forced to work at certain times. It brings more flexibility to your business, and productivity will improve.
One of the unknown benefits of the cloud is that it saves your business money. How? Allow me to explain. Let’s imagine you’re using the cloud for your small business. Now, think about all the uses I mentioned earlier. With data storage and information sharing, you can do it all online. The cloud is a portal for you to store everything, and share it with others. Without the cloud, what would you need? You’d need a massive hard drive for your PC, and external storage. These things both cost a lot of money. Likewise, some cloud apps are free. This eliminates your need to pay for hardware that does the exact same thing as the apps. The main principle of small business is to save money wherever you can. Every penny you save is a penny earned. The cloud can cut costs, and this may be the difference between you making a profit or not.
I touched upon it earlier, and the cloud can improve collaboration. This all centers around information sharing. Again, let’s imagine you have the cloud in your small business. You need to share things with staff/clients. So, in just a few clicks, you’ve shared links to give them access to files/folders. Within minutes, you’ve shared what you needed to share. Now, your clients/staff can get back to you, and talk about what you shared. In some cases, they can make edits to documents and send them back. Collaboration has greatly improved, as it’s so easy.
On that note, we’ve come to the end of the article. At the start of this piece, you may have been wary about the cloud, particularly if you’re a newbie. As you can see, there are many ways a small business can use it. And, there are plenty of great benefits. For a lot of business experts, small businesses and the cloud are indeed a match made in heaven. There are simply too many good things to ignore. Plus, it’s essential if you have ambitions of growing your business. A great business tip is to look at what the rich and successful companies are doing. In this case, every big business is using the cloud. So, follow the trend, and you’ll soon be on your way to the top.