It can be a challenge running a small business. As a small business owner, you’ll often find that no task is too big or too small for you to handle, from contending with macro problems such as rising fuel costs, to more at-hand issues such as discovering that a part-time employee mistakenly unplugged a tucked-away power strip and that’s why half the work stations in the office are offline.
With much to worry about and never enough staff to cover all the bases, cloud computing has the potential to ease the strain of running a small business while cutting costs in the process.
Small and midsize businesses in the United States will spend more than $49 billion on cloud services in 2015, nearly double the size of the market today, according to research from AMI Partners. Donald Best, an analyst at AMI, chalked up the growth to a combination of reliable broadband, thin applications and the financial incentive to smaller businesses – namely, that cloud services do not require significant costs to acquire.
“It’s a factor of IT spending increasing, and it’s also an increasing percentage of total spending that’s going to the cloud,” Best said in an interview with InformationWeek.
The AMI study revealed that SMBs are currently setting aside 10 percent of IT budgets for cloud services. This number is expected to grow to 15 percent by 2015.
The number of cloud services aimed at SMBs also continues to grow, which is a great benefit to business owners. The following services or products cover some of the essential components of running a small business in the cloud. While there are many choices out there, here are just a few that make running a business a little bit easier with a little help from above – the cloud.
This is an obvious choice, but it’s tough to beat the cost and simplicity of running Google Apps. If you plan to integrate Google Docs into a collaborative workspace, complete with email and calendaring, Google Apps is the way to go.
Skype continues to improve its VOIP quality. Its updated interface makes video calls a snap. Since Microsoft purchased Skype, Redmond is working to integrate Skype across its entire product portfolio, with more robust software being developed for both server and client environments.
Ultra-customizable, Intuit’s QuickBase is a business-class online database that comes from a long-established vendor that can be trusted. QuickBase can house any type of data, from invoices to inventory. It’s fast, reliable and has many native applications to get you up and running in a flash.
Finance and Accounting
Bill.com automates small-business accounting by reducing the time and paperwork required for accounts payable. With Bill.com, you get a complete Web-based “finance department” to organize day-to-day finances and optimize cash flow.
Storage and Backup
MozyPro lets you manage multi-user environments, schedule automatic backups and monitor the health of your backups from a single Web-based dashboard. Mozy maintains strict security policies, military-grade encryption and world-class data centers for optimal data protection. Mozy’s pay-as-you-go model saves time and money with no setup fees, no hardware to purchase and little management required – ideal incentives for a small business.