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Forget Blue Sky Thinking – Small Businesses Head for the Clouds [INFOGRAPHIC]

This is a guest post by Carlo Pandian.

Cloud computing offers some significant benefits for small to medium enterprises (SMEs), or independent professionals in terms of flexibility and functionality. For many small firms resources to implement big business style IT solutions have previously been simply too costly. The advances in Cloud technology mean that scalable IT solutions to fit any budget, and any definition of ‘small’, can be sourced affordably online. Additionally, cloud computing allows a business to grow and adapt quickly should the need arise. In today’s harsh, highly competitive climate, the opportunity to compete on an equal footing with big business is giving the smaller variety a distinct edge.

Big Solutions without Big Prices

We seem to rely more on technology than ever these days and the potential investment required in IT structures or systems has been daunting for many small firms. For the self-employed, relying on perhaps only a single computer, with limited funding to purchase suitable software and systems, cloud computing can be the answer to a rather long list of prayers. In some senses cloud computing offers a ‘pay-as-you-go’ solution. Without the need for investing in large and expensive IT solutions, cloud systems allow you to invest in what you need – and add systems or solutions as required as your business grows.

Fast and Flexible Practices

The flexibility that cloud computing offers is possibly the fundamental benefit that the cloud offers to firms of any size. This flexibility comes in two varieties; with cloud computing you only need to pay for what you actually need and it also offers the ultimate in ‘mobility’. Using a cloud computing solution removes the need to be in one place to manage your business. This is particularly beneficial when it comes to all the administrative and accounting tasks that are part and parcel of being self-employed. Online accounting software is a good example of the advantages that computing in the cloud can create for small businesses. Accounting is one crucial area of business management that many small firms or individuals do not list in their areas of expertise, yet to manage payments to suppliers and receive payments from clients, it’s vital. Additionally, monitoring cash flow, compliance with tax and VAT regulations, not to mention the dreaded end of year accounting period, becomes far smoother with an online accounting software solution; it’s also less vulnerable to data loss as a result of computer disasters.

No Experience Needed

Cloud software means that you do not need to be an IT expert. Software is not installed on your computer, but hosted remotely. Updates are managed remotely and information and data is stored likewise. Accessed via the web, cloud computing gives you flexible access to the tools that you need, when you need them and, importantly, where you need them. Small firms are prone to sudden and very catastrophic technology issues; this translates simply as a fatal computer crash. A large firm will have back-ups and plenty of spare computing capacity to smoothly negotiate the loss of a PC. For a small firm, or individual, this loss could equal a 100 per cent reduction in capacity. With the cloud versions of your essential software, business continuity becomes a real possibility and staying in business is not out of the question!

Shared Resourcing

An additional feature with cloud systems that will appeal to many firms is the ability to share documents with workers in remote locations. In effect your business, particularly the office side of things, can become completely virtual. Again, online accounting software is a good example; access to your records via a secure website means no more detours to the accountants, or software conflicts with their systems. In terms of overheads the benefits are obvious; and can offer useful savings when it comes to competing with other small (and large businesses). If you’re business grows rapidly, employing additional staff does not need to mean finding room for them and often staff who have the option to work from home can prove to be far more productive than those who work in an office. Technology changes rapidly and some technologies come and go, however, given the benefits that cloud computing can offer to individuals and business, it seems that this particular variety is here to stay.

What is Cloud Computing?
Via: Wikibon

About the Author

Carlo Pandian is a freelance writer and blogs about business, entrepreneurs and technology covering everything from tutorials on QuickBooks Online accounting software to social media management tools. He loves reading great entrepreneurs biographies and speaking at conferences about how the internet can help small businesses.

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