Small business owners are busy people. Running your own business takes a ton of effort, and you probably don't want any of that energy being diverted to worrying about the software you use to run your business. That's where the cloud comes in and why cloud solutions for small business make so much sense.
I was actually kind of amused by an article in the Wall Street Journal last week that called attention to small businesses moving to the cloud because it's just such an obvious advantage.
You are freed from installing, managing, and upgrading software. The vendor sometimes for free, sometimes for a surprisingly modest fee, takes care of all of that heavy lifting for you. Whatever you pay (or don't), upgrades happen automatically. You're always using the latest and the greatest version, and best of all, if a big client with 30,000 users demands some new features, every customer gets those new features. Even a one-person shop is on level footing with the service's largest customers.
But as the article makes clear, the real advantage for owners is having access to their information on mobile devices and being able to work from anywhere. Talk about stating the obvious again, but if your software is on a single computer in the back office, you can't access any information when you're out and about. That's a huge limitation.
Information at Your Fingertips
With the cloud, you can have access to company information—whether financial, inventory, sales, customer, or any other type of data—at your fingertips wherever you are. If you're working on new ideas, you can access the documents from any device, anywhere, any time. It's hard to beat that. For busy small business owners, that's a huge advantage.
Yet for some reason, they have resisted moving to the cloud. Perhaps because much like with larger businesses, change comes slowly, and they work with what they know—maybe even more so. My guess, though, is that newer businesses have never installed Excel and Quickbooks on their laptops. They haven't kept a local CRM database or worked on business plans in Word. Instead, they are going to access all of their software needs in the cloud.
It only makes sense, and it puts those businesses who have stubbornly stuck to the computer in the back office at a distinct disadvantage. The other folks can get at their information out in the field, talking to customers and suppliers. They have the advantage of instant access to their information, and that's very powerful. Folks who have to run back to the office to get their information are going to be a day late and a dollar short on a lot of deals that require faster access to information.
Consider a restaurant owner who has to call in for information from the market as opposed to pulling out a smartphone and finding out instantly how much fish they have in the freezer or how much the fishmonger charged last time.
Slowly but surely, businesses are beginning to get this, and within a few years, a vast majority of them—78 percent according to numbers cited in that WSJ article—will be on board.
Change always takes longer than you expect, even when the advantages of changing are glaringly obvious as they are with Software as a Service.