Get on The Cloud

You should get on the cloud, like right now.

As a small business, you have access to industry-standard tools and technologies that were available only to large companies with bankrolls that could reach the moon.

Technology impacts your business, no matter how you choose to take that.

You could be as small as you’d like and look as big as any Fortune 500 company. You might want to skip the traditional office space – full-time hiring – and infrastructure build-up routine. You could even operate completely on the cloud, if you wanted to. Jason Fried – co-founder of Basecamp and author of Rework – advocates moving to this kind of a business model no matter what kind of business you are in. Here are a few ways you could transform the way you run your business.

Get On the Cloud: Look bigger and more professional than ever

Assuming you want to look, feel, and operate like a large company, you’d normally have to scale and grow. Until you realize that you don’t have to. Consider this: what happens when a customer calls your company? Who picks up the call?

Even if you were the only person in the company, you’d do well to have an interactive voice system to lead customers to a particular department such as “sales”, “support”, or “billing”. With solutions such as Grasshopper, Continental Message, Mighty Call, and many others – you could actually set up redirects for calls, full-fledged customer-service processes (even multi-lingual, if you want to), employee attendance hotlines, take orders on call, and phone answering services.

Turn your small business into a customer-centric company.

Leads are good. How do you manage those leads?

For a small business owner, every single day is spent on obsessing about leads that ought to turn into customers.

So, do marketing. Get leads.

Unfortunately, it’s not that straightforward. Almost any landing page with healthy traffic can generate leads. But what happens after that?

Lead Nurturing, that’s what. If there are 16 different marketing channels (including ad words, social media (including contests and sweepstakes), guest blogging, etc., how do you track, qualify, and nurture relevant leads without missing the gaps?

You’d use a CRM solution to help you manage leads and almost automate the lead nurturing process. Use solutions like Base CRM, OnePage CRM, and Active Campaigns, and many more – all available for a low, monthly fee.

People. What about people?

The days of using full-time staff are numbered. You’d only spend more than necessary if you insist on working with people, the traditional way. Say, telecommuting, hiring experienced (but remote) freelancers, and using vendors to outsource your work is the way of the future. This isn’t just heresy or a random jab at predictions. Alex Altman of Time.com wrote on the new work order and how it’s set to change.

You should get on the cloud with hiring too. What with flexi work in and telecommuting turning out to be the de facto standard, places like Upwork, Guru, and PeoplePerhour are teeming with talent all over the world ready to plug in and do work. No extra expenses for equipment, training, or space.

Even if you had to hire traditionally, you have at least 15 Amazing tools to help fine tune your hiring process , or you could use social media to hire

When you get on the cloud, you obviate the need for anything expensive or on-premise. You could use tons of tools for A/B testing your marketing campaigns; you’d never need dedicated IT staff for anything from – designing or maintaining websites to customer-service. You’d do away with expensive accounting systems and use cloud-based tools robust – but still flexible enough – to suit your business.

Think of the cloud as a gift for small businesses. It’s exciting what you’d find where technology gets to meet business.

Go explore.

Do you use technology for your business? Did you get on the cloud yet?