Cloud computing provides access to business data and applications from anywhere, at any time, on any mobile device—all at a reasonable price when compared with the cost of hosting servers in-house.
The cloud provides small businesses with mobile access to data and helps them be more competitive within their market. According to research by Gartner, up to 60% of business owners will be relying on the cloud for hosting data by 2022, roughly doubling the numbers from 2018.
Cloud Applications for Small Business
Cloud applications are browser-based and accessible from desktop and mobile devices. For around $10/month vendors such as FreshBooks and Zoho offer cloud-based starter packages suitable for freelancers and sole proprietorships, including invoicing, expense tracking, and simple reporting.
Cloud-based accounting applications are compatible with Android or Apple smartphones and allow the user to access their accounting data, send invoices, and track expenses while on the go. Accounting software vendors, such as YNAB and Quicken, are able to offer better incentives and upgrades with their cloud products than traditional bookkeeping software, and can potentially save your business time and money.
Why Cloud Computing Can Save You Money
Staff savings: You no longer have to staff and manage a team of in-house specialists to install and update software, manage email and file servers, or run backups. The convenience of cloud computing is that you pay a small monthly fee, and the business of maintaining the service or application is the responsibility of the cloud vendor.
Hardware space savings: You no longer have to run software updates for your own network. Instead, you can host business data in the cloud and save your own hardware space for sensitive data. Plus, your computer will run faster and more efficiently.
Application consolidation: You may be able to consolidate your separate application needs into one multi-application, cloud computing service:
- Google Apps for Business includes email, calendar scheduling, Google Docs (for creating and sharing documents, presentations, and forms), and Google Sites for creating websites—all for just $5 per month per person on your account.
- Microsoft's traditional office suite, which used to be only available in downloadable desktop versions costing hundreds of dollars, is now available in a cloud-based version known as Office 365. It's sold by annual subscription and also includes online video conferencing and instant messaging connectivity. Not surprisingly, Office 365 is now outselling the desktop office suite.
- Other cloud computing vendors such as Infostreet provide a suite of cloud applications including CRM, calendar scheduling, email, conference calling, file sharing, and an employee directory for as little as $10 per month per person on your account.
System hardware cutbacks: File storage, data backup, and software programs all take up a lot of space on servers and computers. With cloud computing, you use the vendor's servers to store this data instead.
Time savings: Cloud computing applications are regularly updated, so you don't have to spend time and money doing it yourself. This gives you the advantage of always having access to an application's latest features and functions.
Other Cloud Computing Advantages
S&P Global found that 60% of surveyed organizations say a majority of their IT will be off-premise within two years. This is a huge benefit for startups and small businesses that depend on agility as their operations grow.
It's easier and faster to sign up for a cloud computing application than to buy a server, get it up and running, and install and maintain software yourself. Using the cloud means you won't need to buy hardware and software incrementally, and you can focus more of your energy on the productivity and human connections that make your small business successful.