Stay Competitive: Tips for the Small Business Owner

The idea of your PC being your digital storage space is dying. The power of the internet is starting to be released in the form of new web-based software solutions that give businesses the power to have anywhere, anytime access to their office. Now all a professional needs is a smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC, to connect to the internet and they have access to their office at their fingertips.What does this mean for small businesses? Lower costs and a stronger competitive advantage.The world of technology has developed, opening doors for small businesses to eliminate their fixed costs in expensive infrastructure and IT management, and instead use pay as you go solutions that are significantly lower in cost and offer more versatility. In addition, they have the tools to collaborate with their teams in a way never seen before. Through lower costs and increased productivity, small businesses are now able to level the playing field and compete with the big guys.No Infrastructure. No Fixed Costs.Infrastructure is one of the most costly items for small businesses. The initial price to purchase and set up the infrastructure is enough to set a small business back months, if not years. Once it has been set up, the maintenance of the servers and infrastructure is laborious and budget draining. IT personnel have to maintain the system and protect against any downtime that could impair business productivity.Another expense for businesses is software that requires installation. Once a software solution is purchased, it must be installed and license keys have to be maintained on multiple pieces of hardware. The process to do this is laborious and the time intensive.To counteract these two ways of doing business, more companies are moving to the cloud. Once you have just a simple internet connection, you can do almost anything. Software-as-a-Service that runs in the cloud does not require installation which is why more companies are leveling the playing field and adopting this way of doing business. It is seamless to set up and requires no maintenance.When a small business invests their money in cloud software, they significantly limit their spending, allowing them to invest in other aspects of their business, giving them the opportunity to compete and grow faster.Dramatically Cut Overhead CostsInvesting in office space, travel and other resources are huge expenses for small businesses. The world is shrinking and the idea that business must be done from specified locations is becoming old fashioned. Smart businesses know that the way to be competitive is to lower costs in heavy equipment and have consistent access to your office, no matter where you are in the world. This can be done with cloud software.Software in the cloud allows businesses to conduct meetings and manage team collaboration online. Through the use of video and web conferencing, businesses are able to meet in cyberspace, instead of traveling thousands of miles, wasting time and money. Additionally, business files can be stored and shared online, giving professionals access to their important documents from anywhere in the world. Business collaboration tools have added value to the business place, allowing for improved communication. Small businesses with remote locations or people who work from home can now work together better online, staying ahead of the competition by increasing productivity and employee morale.With all of these benefits, it would seem that such a powerful piece of technology would take a while to implement. But the truth is, we already have the technology at our disposal, we just aren’t using it.Immediate ImplementationOne factor that has scared some small businesses into implementing new solutions, is the time it takes to transition to a new system. Transitioning to cloud software, however, is fast and easy and only requires access to the internet.In today’s society, it is difficult to find a business that does not use e-mail or have a website. The idea of web-based software is not totally foreign to us. Because of this, small businesses are able to immediately implement new cloud software solution into their business with little transition or training time required.The learning curve for employees is fast. Most employees use similar technology in their daily lives, making it seamless to integrate into their business life. Social networks, for example, are being turned into private business collaboration tools to enhance communications with geographically distant locations or work-from-home employees.Businesses can be instantly more hands on, making them more innovative and productive instantly. By leveraging current technology, businesses are seeing immediate positive results.Give your Team the Tools to SucceedEmployee morale is driven by the feeling of accomplishment. With the right tools, small businesses are giving their teams what they need to succeed in the workplace, and give public recognition to those who do well, thereby retaining quality employees.Even with a traveling sales force, work-from-home employees and remote locations, small businesses can make sure their employees stay motivated and connected, wherever they are. By having a way to connect in the cloud, these employees get the support they need to succeed, boast about their accomplishments and drive internal competition. Likewise, managers have a bird’s eye view of the business and employees have a forum to share their ideas and accomplishments. Small businesses are able to thrive and stay competitive with a motivated staff behind them.It is clear why cloud computing is taking the small business world by storm. With growing margins and improved employee morale, businesses can become more profitable. Lower IT and overhead costs give small businesses more ground to take off running with their business. Teams have the ability to adopt technology they are already familiar with and interact with their colleagues, partners and clients in a way never seen before, increasing employee productivity and morale. Cloud computing and business collaboration tools are crucial to the success of any small business.