As a virtual assistant I could not operate without the cloud.
However at a recent local networking function I was surprised to learn just how many business owners seem to be operating as it was five years ago.
Cloud computing is undoubtedly changing the way small businesses operate by increasing productivity, reducing operating costs and allowing any size business to compete on a much bigger scale than ever before and yet, it appears not all SMEs are leveraging the technology.
Here are 5 clear signs that you need a virtual makeover – and fast!
1. The only place you can check your emails or documents is in the office
The biggest change you can make today for your business is getting hosted or cloud based email and document storage.
From as little as $5 per month programs like Google Apps for Business will allow you to securely sync your email/calendar/documents across multiple devices such as your phone, office computer and iPad . So no matter where you or your staff might be, as long as you have an internet connection, you can access the information you need to run your business. Whitsundays anyone?
2. Keeping customer records anywhere other than a CRM
Having your customer records sitting in a filing cabinet is losing you money. Using a cloud based CRM program will open up a world of opportunities for communicating, marketing and selling to both new and existing customers. These types of systems are affordable and designed to increase the productivity of your staff and give a clear indication of your sales pipeline, or lack therefore. Popular programs include Zoho, Salesforce, and Capsule.
3. Keeping your accounts in Excel
Don’t get me wrong, Excel was a great program for record keeping in the 90’s. These days though, there are many cloud based accounting programs like Xero that for a small monthly fee will save you time, frustration and money. Programs like this will save thousands on accountant fees and help you to improve your cashflow through real time reporting. Imagine reconciling your monthly bank statement in minutes, not hours. Time to say goodbye to the shoebox full of receipts sitting under your desk and embrace cloud based accounting packages.
4. A paper diary still sits in your handbag/briefcase
I know, it is like a security blanket that is hard to let go off, but it’s time to cut the cord. Using electronic calendars and to do lists will ensure you stay on top of things anywhere, anytime and means that you will never forget another important business meeting, the kids bake sale at school or your sister’s birthday. It also means that your staff can also keep across your appointments and movements – oh the efficiency!
5. You still regularly buy ink cartridges and have a fax machine in your office
Working virtually can basically make your office truly paperless. Just about anything can be done online now including getting your faxes, diminishing the need for ‘hard copies’ saving you space and money on paper, inks, stationary and postage.
So whether you have one or all of these elements in your office – now is the time get on the cloud and start reaping the benefits!