James Kim, Choosewhat.com
Many small businesses are already going virtual. Physical set-ups of businesses are getting rare especially for those smaller companies. Home offices are getting popular as people can now work from their homes anywhere in the world for a company located on a completely different continent, or just around the corner. Financial management systems, labor marketplaces such as odesk, and communications such as services are moving to the Cloud. Small businesses are able to save money through elimination of rental costs, electricity costs, office appliances maintenance costs, etc. You can also try out online services first before engaging your business in such services to make sure that you will really benefit from those services. Many have free trial periods. Here are cloud solutions for you:
- Organization: There are many online calendar services being offered, these serve as personal assistants wherein you can input your schedule and you’ll be reminded on time. You can also share the calendar with other employees and invite them to meetings. An example is GoogleCalendar which is very, very easy to use. Other examples are hyperoffice.com and a new service by Microsoft 365.
- Collaboration: For real-time interaction, there are so many ways to share and comment on the same documents all at the same time. A service like this is offered by GoogleDocs, ConceptShare, or Sharepoint. They will allow many users to work simultaneously on the same document without overwriting data that each of them enters or edits.
- Communication: International calls are being offered at low rates by Skype or GoogleVoice. Additionally, there are online fax services that enable users to fax without a machine, either using a scanner or just using a telephone line. There are services such as Join.me and Gotomeeting.com that offer conference calling, screen sharing, and chatting. There’s also Campfire that offers private chat sessions for meetings. All the services mentioned lessen communication problems online.
- CRM-Customer relationship management: Online CRM isn’t only possible, it is actually far superior to server based solutions. Salesforce and others offer very powerful tools for online CRM. Check this link for more information about it: http://sales.about.com/od/leadgeneration/a/freecrmsoftware.htm
- Finance: The popular Quickbooks service is now available to use online. Most, if not every bank, now offer online banking, there are even some that integrate with online systems for accounting. There are also those that have programs for organizing receivables and payables like Netledger.com. You could also get loans from a service just like what Prosper does. There are also plenty of programs for recording purchases like Dimewise or Wesabe.
The Cloud surely helps a small business and makes growing your company easier than ever.
James Kim is a writer for Choosewhat.com, which provides product reviews and test data for business services and products. Choosewhat.com's goal is to help small companies make informed buying decisions on business solutions that help their business.