You’ve no doubt heard it before, your competition might be big, but as a startup or small business, you have the ability to pivot quickly and outmaneuver them. The challenge? How do you actually put that idea into practice? How can you make your small business more agile? How can you create an edge that will make an impact?
One of the key ways to take advantage of your position is to jump on cloud technologies that can help your business be better organized and ready to move quickly and decisively whenever you see an opportunity.
In this article, we’ll look at 5 ways your startup or small business can take advantage the cloud.
1. Secure Your Network with Managed IT Services
It used to be that unless your business was big enough to have a well-resourced and well-staffed IT department, you ran a serious risk of getting hacked. If you didn’t have that, you needed to hope that there was at least relative anonymity in being small. Unfortunately, attackers are targeting small businesses precisely because they know those targets are less able to defend themselves, but also have possession of valuable information that can be sold to the highest bidder.
No matter how small you are, the truth is you don’t stand a strong chance of flying under the radar. According to CNBC, nearly 6 in 10 businesses reported that they had experienced a cyber attack in 2017. More importantly, it takes the average business 146 days to realize they’ve been compromised. The general advice of business crisis professionals is to get out in front of a situation, but it’s impossible to be proactive if you don’t even realize that you’ve been compromised.
Luckily, Managed IT Services have emerged as a way for small businesses to be able to fend off new cyber threats at the same level as their larger peers and competitors. Cloud technologies have made it easier than ever to remotely manage your network, support your devices, and provide services like 24/7 monitoring and live threat response for a relatively affordable cost. These things used to be the domain of large organizations with major resources devoted to IT, but now you and your customers can get the protection you need.
Managed service providers (MSPs), or managed services via your Internet service provider (ISP) is a great way to decrease your overhead and simplify IT problems.
Managed IT services can offer high-powered solutions and the expertise that comes from being the best at what they do. It lets your tech staff be proactive rather than reactive, allowing them to focus on innovation and ways to push your company forward. There is also built-in scalability and flexibility that gives your business the room it needs for growth.
2. Take Advantage of Alexa Skills
When Alexa first rolled out, it seemed like nothing more than a way for Amazon to make it easier for people to buy things from, well, Amazon. While it’s certainly great to be able to play music and check the weather handsfree, the biggest thing going for the digital personal assistant is the Alexa Skills Kit and the added functionality it brings to the table.
On top of being able to access volumes of information the Internet can provide on any topic you can think of, Alexa has a lot of useful abilities for getting your small business organized. For example; Email Assistant by EasilyDo scans your inbox to pull travel details like flight info, car rentals, hotel bookings, and anything else you need. Intently.co pulls from a list of over one million service providers to connect you to a plumber or electrician as quickly as possible.
For other help, you can use the Remember the Milk skill to create reminders that help your team get things done when they need to happen. It’s pretty simple to say, “Alexa, remind me to get X a copy of Y by February 19th.” Even more simple, however, is that you can push that reminder instantly to your employees’ devices as well.
Running a small business means keeping track of a lot of moving parts, keeping on your toes, and staying in the know. Because it’s always ready, Alexa is a great tool to help you do things faster, which helps you stay focused on what matters. Alexa Skills feature many “Skills” (think apps) that can help, and there are more added every day.
3 – More from Alexa – Flash Briefings – Startup, Small Business, and Tech News
One of Alexa’s most powerful uses that it is among the best sources of real-time searchable information via Flash Briefings. Silicon Valley Beat for example uses that skill to provide you with real-time startup news updates.
- To hear the latest news out of Silicon Valley, including funding announcements, startup launches, rumors, and news, just say: “Alexa, enable Silicon Valley Beat” It’s a quick and easy way to stay on top of news, trends, and information, and ensure your startup or small business is aware of opportunities as they arise.
- To get essential tech news you need Monday – Friday day in 10 minutes or less, try Daily Tech Headlines
- And for small business news, check out Manta Small Business Flash Briefing. Just say the command, “Alexa, enable Manta Small Business Flash Briefing”
There are Flash Briefings for a variety of business needs and topics. See more here
4. 24/7 Access to Data
It’s never been more affordable to move critical data and services to the cloud, and making a move to the cloud as a service is affordable, even on a startup or small business budget. You get 24/7 access to your data from wherever your business takes you, plus the security of knowing that your data is backed up whenever disaster strikes. Furthermore, going with a pro means you get top-notch security, so you never have to worry about a data breach—which means a lot in a world where hackers are increasingly targeting startups and small businesses.
5. Take Your Customer Service to the Cloud
If you want the types of good reviews that drive repeat business and referrals, then you need to find a way to put the customer experience and customer service in a central position for your business. The challenge, however, is putting your customer service rep in a position to understand where the customer is coming from and be empowered to really make a difference.
Taking your customer service data to the cloud is a good way to make sure that everyone is on the same page as to what’s already happened with a customer when they’ve contacted you, and what you’re planning to do about it. Because it’s a cloud-based app it’s able to grow when you grow, making sure that your customer service is scalable in the long run.
What You Can Do Right Now
It’s easy to get caught up in the mindset that because you’re a small business or startup you can’t leverage the same technology as larger competitors, but that’s simply not the case. The cloud is just one-way technology has leveled the playing field. It has made a lot of things feasible for small businesses that were previously only the domain of huge corporations. From better network security to improved customer service, your small business or startup can use cloud technology to compete.
Use Managed IT Services to secure your data.
Consider Alexa as an auxiliary personal assistant.
Move critical data and services to the cloud
Take advantage of daily Flash Briefings.
More effectively tracks your customer service interactions from start to finish.
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