"The Cloud" has a whole new meaning lately with dozens of new websites, apps, and companies developing a way to store files remotely, and it is key for small businesses. The ability to store remotely is priceless to Small and Large businesses, but especially small businesses because of the low cost. Large companies can afford to have their own server(s) to store files locally and remotely in an integrated system, but those systems are not cheap, and for a small business, are simply out of the question. So for those readers who are a little less tech savvy, I will explain what the cloud is, for those of you who get this concept, feel free to skip down to the next paragraph. So what is The Cloud? Nope, not those white fluffy things in the sky that are condensed water vapor, but the idea is the same. The cloud is a remote storage place for all of your files, pictures, videos, and documents that you and your business ever use or create. There are tons of different sites like Dropbox, Google's Drive, Skydrive, Rackspace, Justcloud, the list is endless, just like the possibilities. The great part about these are you can set it up so your whole computer is backed up, certain folders are synced daily, or you can simply add file by file to keep your personal and business files separated.
So how does this help a small business so much that I am writing a blog post about it? The answer to that is that these services allow businesses to collaborate better then ever before. Before cloud storage, in order to share contracts, marketing reports, and investor teasers, small business owners dreaded attaching these to emails and praying that the "file to large" error message would not show up. Even if they could attach it and send it, more times than not, somewhere along the line, these files got reformatted, lost a page, or some sort of other error that quite frankly made it more of a hassle than snail mail. So what do these storage sites do for you? it gives you a place to keep as few, or as many files and folders as you want. Create a marketing analysis at your home office and upload it to Dropbox, with a username and a password, you can access your files anywhere in the world, on devices from PC's, Macs, Iphones, Ipads, androids, you name it, you can probably retrieve your files. No more need to travel with that little USB drive that your constantly worrying you will lose or break, and there goes everything. No more need of transferring your files to your external hard drive, simply upload it and all your files are backed up. That business trip to Las Vegas just became a lot more fun didn't it? But what if I told you that you could skip the whole trip, instead of traveling to LA to meet with your investor and go over pages and pages of contracts, you can allow him to read the document by using Dropbox, make changes, and re upload it so you can review it. Once everything is good by both parties, a simple Skype call is all that stands between you and a signed contract (check back for a post on video conferencing). Saving thousands on plane tickets and hotel costs. Another great part about the cloud is the ability for small business owners to hire people across the country for their marketing or sales teams. This decreases cost because it basically eliminates the need for office space, or for company computers, and sense you pay for what you need, you no longer have to purchase triple the amount of storage because it was all they offered. Pay for what you use, its that simple. Productivity will also be at an all time high, no more need to train people how to use a Mac after being a PC owner of 10 years, or vice versa. These storage servers allow people to use what ever type of device and operating system they chose, without any formatting errors. All in all, the cloud literally can save, and make small businesses succeed in today's technological boom.
If your interested in reading some more about this topic, check out A Matter Of Scale