Keeping up with changes to technology can be a nightmare, especially for the smallest of small businesses. IT has made doing business much easier and there has been an explosion in the number of small or solo businesses throughout the recession. For the economy this is great, and for individuals it can offer a far more rewarding lifestyle than the traditional nine-five wage slave model. However, when you first start up finding the time and resources to run your business can be hard work. Cloud computing solutions can take some of the pressure of you and make running your own company, if not a breeze, considerably simpler than in the past.
Time and Money Savers
The big advantage to any cloud computing tool is that it frees up time and resources. Most small business men, women, grannies and teenagers (the term businessman no longer applies) aren’t experts in IT issues. Cloud based software provides you with essential (often unseen) support for your software. There’s no complex installation process, you simply log on via the web to access your applications, and that’s all there is to it. Storage space is not based on your PC, Laptop or phone; again everything is stored (far more securely) remotely on your provider’s servers. Put simply it’s a bit like renting a hard drive where your data is stored securely and backed up without the need for troublesome (and easily lost) memory sticks.
I’ve been using cloud storage and back up for about eighteen months now, and this has been a bit of a business life saver on more than one occasion. I have a grand total of two desktops and one laptop, all of which have attitudes that make a sulky teenager look like a paragon of virtue. Being able to access all my data and documents remotely means it doesn’t matter if I can’t get the main PCs out of bed in the morning, and the PCs are free to hate me as much as they like. If I myself am not feeling particularly like getting up, I can simply transfer the office function to said bed, thanks to the laptop. In fact it doesn’t really matter where I am, but I can work largely when it suits and am not tied to one location. If you haven’t yet discovered the joys of cloud data and document storage, Google Docs is worth a look – you get five GB free and prices for larger amounts are competitive.
Ignorance is no defence
Apart from general lack of IT experience, most small firms also have a distinct lack of knowledge when it comes to accounting procedures. Unfortunately not “being aware” is no defence as far as HMRC are concerned and if you’re not keeping excellent records (and they realise) they’ll not let you off because you didn’t know you needed to. Online accounting packages are excellent ways to keep on top of the cash flow; there are a lot of them on the market at the moment and one that is worth a look is QuickBooks, from Intuit. Intuit caters specifically to the small business sector, and this makes them a perfect provider for the self-employed. Apart from the obvious advantages of being able to store your financial records safely online, out of the way of rebellious computers, you can access records and produce invoices wherever you are. For those running mobile businesses this is a brilliant solution, allowing you to invoice clients on site without the need to “pop” back to the office, or to build up a stack of paperwork over a period of one or more weeks. Weekends become a real possibility again!
Data storage online and cloud accounting are just two, basic functions that cloud computing offers. Whatever your industry there are a number of online solutions that give you access to massive computer power, from as many or as few devices as suits your needs. One small laptop and a PAYG smart phone are all you’ll need to manage your small business and cloud computing will give you all the tools you’ll need to make it grow.
Simon Wilson blogs about small business tips and marketing, covering everything from QuickBooks Accounting Software to how small businesses can take advantage of social media. When he’s not online Simon enjoys wake boarding, swimming and travelling the world.