The adoption of cloud solutions by small businesses is continuing to soar in popularity, and it’s easy to understand why.
With low, upfront costs and benefits that can include increased efficiency, anywhere access, improved cash flow, and reduced risk during a crisis, it’s hard to imagine why any business would not make a move to the cloud.
In this article, we’ll look at the five essential benefits of cloud solutions for small businesses and what you can do to begin seeing those benefits today.
1) Increases Flexibility for Your Business and Easier Collaboration
One of the biggest benefits of pivoting to cloud solutions is the increased flexibility it affords your business. No matter what you’re doing, there’s probably a cloud-based app that can help you get things done more efficiently.
Shopify, for example, brings inventory management, point-of-sale, order tracking, and e-commerce into a single application. Other free and low-cost examples include cloud-based team communication and collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams. With these, your team has the flexibility to log in and work together from just about anywhere, on desktop or mobile.
If you suddenly find that you need help managing your payroll, you can easily add something like Quickbooks into your workflow. If you’re already using Freshbooks for your accounting, you can take advantage of its integrations with Gusto. This kind of flexibility through the cloud allows you to solve business process problems quickly by adding new tools to your toolkit as needs arise.
2) Provides Scalability to Grow with Your Business
Most small businesses aren’t trying to stay small forever. On the contrary, many are trying to find a way to grow.
But there’s a danger in growing too fast too quickly and outpacing your infrastructure. This leads to problems with everything from making the right hires to delivering products to new customers.
These problems only become more difficult if you’re using some sort of cobbled together, in-house solution. While making your own customized solution for tracking calls can work very well when you’re dealing with a limited number of customers, you’re going to run into problems if you suddenly need to scale your customer service rapidly.
The good news is that there are several cloud-based solutions in place that can not only solve your needs today but also keep pace with your growth and help you get things done tomorrow. With customer service, switching to Salesforce might mean more training and cost for you today, but there’s security in the knowledge that several large companies are already running their platform. That’s the power of the cloud—you have the flexibility to add capacity as you need it, without having to reinvent the wheel.
3) Increases Resilience and Reduces Risk for Worst-Case Scenarios
Most small businesses are thinking about how to grow, not about what they’re going to do when disaster strikes. There’s so much to worry about when you’re running a small business that planning for anything else beyond keeping the lights on and the doors open feels like an unnecessary distraction.
You still, however, need to take the time to plan for a crisis. If you aren’t ready, you aren’t alone. Sixty-0ne percent of small business owners don’t have a plan in place for what they’ll do if a disaster strikes.
Fifty-two percent of small business owners say that it would take at least three months to recover from a disaster. Overshadowing all of this is the simple fact that 40 percent of small businesses never reopen after a disaster shuts them down.
Moving your key data and business processes to the cloud provides you with the redundancies you need to make sure that you don’t lose key data or functionality when disaster strikes.
VoIP cloud-based business telephine service allows you to pick up the phone even if your office experiences a service interruption. Cloud storage offsite means you can still get at the data and information you need even if you can’t physically access your own equipment.
Business cloud services enable your team to perform key services, no matter where they’re working from. Make sure you have a plan, no matter what happens.
4) Frees Up Your IT Resources
Beyond the worst-case scenario, moving to the cloud can lighten the load for your IT department, particularly if you take advantage of a managed service provider to help with day-to-day tasks like network monitoring and support. In a small business, it’s often a struggle to put out every fire—you’re in a reactive mode, responding to problems as they arise.
The problem with a reactive approach to managing your infrastructure is that it doesn’t leave room for innovation. You’re not thinking ahead because you’re spending so much time figuring out how to deal with what has already happened.
Shifting into a proactive mindset is imperative if you hope to deliver innovation to your business. Taking advantage of cloud-based monitoring and IT solutions can make that possible by offloading the reactive work and freeing up your tech team to focus on what’s coming next.
5) Reduces Business Costs
For many businesses, the cost-saving benefits of various cloud solutions is critical. Regardless of the size of your business, you can find significant savings through the reduction of spending on computer equipment, IT resources, software, and more.
Cloud solutions can often provide a small business with access to tools, programs, and applications they need, but that might otherwise not be affordable.
The low upfront costs of moving to the cloud, combined with these other benefits, make it a worthwhile consideration for almost any small business.
Choosing the Right Cloud Solutions
With the wide variety of cloud solutions available today, it can be daunting for small businesses to determine what applications are the best fit. Here are some tips on choosing cloud solutions tailored for your needs:
- Assess Current Workflows – Map out how data and workflows move through your systems. This helps match to appropriate replacements.
- Involve Key Stakeholders – Get input from managers and end-users on where legacy systems fall short and desired features.
- Compare Core Functionality – Do demos and trials to test if applications have must-have features to support your processes.
- Evaluate Data Security – Don’t compromise on data security. Vet providers thoroughly and ensure compliant protections.
- Consider Scalability Needs – Factor in expected business growth. The new solutions should scale smoothly along with you.
- Taking the time upfront to methodically evaluate options will help you land on sustainable cloud solutions that support your goals now and in the future.
Tips for Transitioning to the Cloud
Jumping into the cloud too quickly without a solid strategy will undermine many of the hoped-for benefits. Here are some tips for making a smooth transition:
- Prioritize and Transition Incrementally – Not everything has to move to the cloud right away. Focus first on easier wins that will show value.
- Train Employees on New Systems – User adoption suffers if staff are not properly trained on new cloud systems and processes. Plan comprehensive training.
- Stay Flexible as Needs Change – The cloud allows pivoting quickly when conditions change. But you still need to monitor systems closely and adjust.
Key Metrics to Track Success
How will you know whether your move to cloud-based solutions is working? These metrics can help you continuously evaluate success:
- IT costs over time
- System uptime
- End-user adoption rates
- Time-to-market for new capabilities
- Employee productivity
- Closely monitoring key performance metrics allows you to optimize systems and processes to realize the full benefits.
What You Can Do Right Now
loud gives you the flexibility to add tools as you need them—scalable tools that keep up with the growth of your business. Bringing more of your business infrastructure into the cloud makes it easier to keep functioning in a crisis or, more practically, to shift your tech team from thinking reactively to thinking proactively. No matter what, looking for ways to make cloud solutions a more integral part of your business is an easy win.
- Give yourself more flexibility by adding cloud-based apps as you need them.
- Use scalable solutions that grow with you.
- Have a plan for what you’ll do in the worst-case scenario.
- Free up IT to think about leveraging technology, not how to fix it.
- Reduce costs that can be reinvested in other areas of your small business.
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