One of the greatest advantages of small businesses is their agility.
The ability to make quick decisions is what makes us so competitive. We’re nimble. Whether it’s launching a new product, responding to customer requests or changing a business’s focus altogether.
And this advantage is even more evident with the rise of cloud technology.
Cloud services have been fantastic for small business and startups wanting to compete with the big players. KPMG estimates the increased adoption of cloud services in Australian firms could boost the economy by as much as $3.32 billion a year.
Here’s my take on where that value is greatest for small business players like us.
Benefits of cloud services
1. File storage and sharing
Gone are the days of boxes of paperwork, staff working from 9-5 in their cubicles and handwritten files for tax, invoices and receipts. Trust me, I remember. In my first job we used telex machines. Yep I’m that old.
Today with cloud services like Gmail and Dropbox staff can work simultaneously on the same documents. Even if they’re the other side of the world from each other.
This means it’s possible to work with freelancers I’ve never met. I can collaborate on the latest document from Adelaide with staff in Sydney. I jump in at any time without worrying about whether I’ve got the latest version.
Having everyone work on the same spreadsheet, doc or photo file has sped up processes in my business. It’s also freed up time for the team to focus on more important things.
2. Reduced costs
The only things you really need to run a business these days are a tablet or laptop and an internet connection. That makes for a pretty lean operation, especially with pay-as-you-use software and storage options.
It also means small businesses can compete with the big end of town in other ways. They now have flexible access to a bigger pool of talent, sourced globally.
Existing staff benefit from this new mobility as well. Having the freedom and flexibility to work remotely means they’re more engaged, satisfied and productive. A dream for any small business owner.
3. Getting paid faster
It’s hugely rewarding working on a business you love. Getting paid for your work is even better. But you don’t want to be bogged down in the books.
Cloud services also extend to accounting. Accounting apps like Xero automatically import data from your bank accounts. This saves a lot of reconciliation time. It also allows quotes to be turned into invoices quickly and easily. And the faster a client gets an invoice, the better chance they’ll pay on time.
This means less time spent chasing debtors. And no need to spend Sunday afternoons going through paperwork. That’s a task I’m sure no business owner enjoys.
Working in the cloud also means it’s easier to scale a small business at a lower cost. This is great news in the event your growth goes to plan.
My small business just added more storage to our systems to help meet growing demand. It was an easy and effective process with the cloud services we use. Big businesses have loads of red tape to go through. One decision maker was able implement our extra storage with the click of a button. Genius.
If you’re in small business, think about how you can become more agile by using the right technology. It might be the difference between middle-of-the-road and rapid growth.