What’s all this hoo-ha about The Cloud?
Everybody is talking about this Cloud thing, and banging on about how amazing it is. Well if you don’t already know what the cloud is, you’ve probably been using it for the past decade already.
Have you got a hotmail account or gmail account?
Well, these are email accounts already hosted and stored in the Cloud.
More details about what the Cloud actually is can be found in a previous post here.
Small business has never before had such a compelling opportunity to punch above their weight. Cloud based technology is changing the business landscape – allowing small business to compete with larger business – the difference is that small business are nible and with a little strategic insight, you can achieve big goals.
Here are five reasons why you should move your small business to the Cloud:
- Increase Mobility
- Sky rocket productivity and efficiency
- Get paid faster
- Find more customers
- Punch above your weight
The time has never been so right for small business to succeed
Smart, cost effective Cloud based technologies are allowing small business to grow, whilst for the first time ever, also competing with larger firms.
Here’s how implementing the Cloud and your business can do the same:
1. Increase Mobility
Some businesses (eg trades people) rely upon being mobile, and doing work onsite. Often times, software stuck on one machine means that admin that is often times better done as and when a job is complete (eg invoicing) has to be done when you get back to the office (often at home) the last thing you want to do is sit at your computer.
But what if you lost your paper based job book? All of your billings and jobs would go out the door and that means lost revenue to you.
Cloud based technology is turning that model on its head.
Software such as Xero and Tradify are saved in the cloud and uses strong encryption models and security measures to ensure your financial data is safe. These softwares allow you to quote, invoice and prepare purchase orders for suppliers all from your smart phone or tablet. They even take before and after photos to send to your clients so they know the work was done properly (and reduce risk of clients disputing your invoice).
All you need is a smart phone or tablet hooked up to the internet and then there’s no more late nights billing for all the work you’ve completed…
2. Sky Rocket Productivity & Efficiency
There’s one thing common to most Small Business Owners: Being time poor.
We also find that admin (such as doing your books) often times falls on the wayside and only really gets done when there’s a BAS or Tax Return due.
Now there’s some really great products out there that almost does it all for you based upon rules you setup.
Xero is brilliant if you have reoccurring invoices – you can set it up to go and invoices are sent automagically, and you can even ask Xero to automagically chase up outstanding debt! It also pulls in your bank statements on a daily basis – reducing errors in manual bank reconciliations.
Plug in ReceiptBank to your Xero account and you’ve got your supplier invoice data entry on STEROIDS.
Just take a photo of money you spend, setup some rules, and voila. Data entry done! Oh – did I say take a photo even if the supplier invoice is handwritten??
3. Get Paid Faster
They often say that “Cash is King” yet cashflow is another key problem faced by small business owners.
Often times, you spend a lot of valuable time chasing up outstanding debt or customers taking their time making payments.
Again, using Xero, you can plug in online payment providers allowing your invoices to paid online. These payment providers use Xero’s secure online payment feature – sending your invoices with automagic “Pay Now” buttons where customers can log their credit card details securely (and you don’t have the headache of encripting credit card details on your own website).
There’s plenty of payment providers to choose from, and we prefer the following three options:
- Online invoice payments where you want to on-charge the credit card service fee – eWAY
- Online invoice payments (where you’re happy to incur the credit card service fee – Stripe (it’s quicker than eWAY to setup and slightly cheaper)
- If you’re taking payments whilst on the road or need a Point of Sale system – Square. Square has the added benefit of a free Point of Sale (where you can track inventory / parts and materials) so that creating invoices on the go is a breeze.
4. Find more customers
Having an effective website, using Social Media and blogging are really easy and effective ways to increase your customer base.
Don’t have a website? There’s plenty of free resources (wordpress.org) to get a website up and running, but for cost effective solutions, try 99designs this is a marketplace of designers who ‘pitch’ for your work, and oftentimes will actually deliver the work.
Then, for your ongoing social media, use Canva a simple to use, design friendly APP (you can also use the computer login) to keep your brand alive!
5. Punch above your weight
Just because you’re a small business doesn’t mean you can’t think big.
Looking for new markets to sell your products can be daunting, however, using the internet lets you work across borders and with little effort.
Have products you sell in a shop? Why not sell them online too? With website plugins such as Shopify you can sell your products online – anywhere in the world. You just need access to a post office to send your products!
Don’t have much traffic to your website? Create a seller profile on a larger dedicated online marketplace like HardtoFind or eBay. These sites charge a fee for each sale, which basically allow you to access their really large database of customers.
Cloud based technology allows you to think outside the square and to look for new markets without too much effort. Its just a question of how much you want to grow.
The Cloud has given small business the edge it has always looked for
Now, as a Small Business owner you can use simple and effective cloud based tools that help you grow your business whilst also increasing your efficiencies.
More time for you to do the things you love, and hopefully, more money to do so!
For more information on how the Cloud can help your business grow, give us a call on 0408 601 228.
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