Small businesses need all the help they can get when it comes to controlling costs, data security and accounting. Cloud computing offers some powerful online tools located on remote servers — giving you a safer, more cost-effective way of managing your business.
Cloud-based software services deliver a range of exciting benefits, including automated disaster recovery, reduced hardware costs, increased collaboration, workplace flexibility and the ability to work anywhere in the world.
There are dozens of great business tools available in the cloud right now, but here are five of the most popular.
1. A CRM Platform
As your business grows, managing crucial customer relationship processes such as capturing leads and marketing becomes more complex and time-consuming. But a dedicated CRM platform based in the cloud gives you the opportunity to nurture these relationships cost-effectively.
Choose a platform that can grow with your business, and make sure all of the relevant members of your team can access it from anywhere with a password. It’s also important to choose a package that can be integrated with other services, such as accounting software and content management platforms.
2. Accounting Software
There are some exceptional, cost-effective cloud-based accounting packages out there right now. These increasingly popular services allow you to create and send invoices, process payments, manage tax liabilities and create balance sheets. The likes of Xero and QuickBooks can also be linked to a bank account for seamless payment and invoice processing. For a modest monthly fee, you can have access to your own virtual accountant wherever in the world you happen to be.
3. Collaborative Software
Working on documents, creative materials or business pitches often involves input from several people. Before the advent of cloud-based software, this process required the necessary personnel to be in the same room together. Now, however, small businesses can manage collaborative work via online platforms such as Google Docs.
With the necessary permissions, people can simply log on to the platform and make changes, offer suggestions and exchange ideas. Updates are made in real time, and every collaborator is given full visibility. The projects are stored safely on remote servers, and collaborators from all over the world can take part in the process.
4. A Content Management Platform
There was a time when making changes to a website involved either coding skills or the services of a web programmer. Now, however, there are cloud-based services that allow you to update your static pages and your blogs without the need for technical know-how. Platforms such as WordPress, Joomla and Squarespace make online publishing accessible to everyone.
There are also cloud-based services that make content delivery a secure and relatively straightforward process. Whether you’re printing menus, designing business cards or distributing promotional videos, you can do everything from your desk with the help of an online content specialist.
5. Marketing Automation Software
Digital marketing involves a number of menial, time-consuming tasks that can take people away from their duties. For example, creating mass email campaigns, nurturing leads and assessing analytics are all laborious tasks — all of which can be performed by marketing automation software in the cloud. The right software package can manage everything from A/B testing to lead management, freeing up you and your team to drive the business forward.
Cloud-based business tools are crucial for small businesses today. By switching more of your operations to the cloud, you can slash your cost base, make your operations more efficient, and improve the services and products you offer your customers.
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