small-business-cloud-computing-benefits|Photo Courtesy ofDepositphotos.com calendar, email and task manager all return the same verdict: work is piling up. What’s your solution? At first, it might seem easy to snap your fingers and say, “I’ll just hire an assistant!” However, that’s not always the best answer. For today’s small businesses, cloud-based services may offer advantages over hiring more help, including greater convenience, labor and infrastructure savings, plus access to innovations in automation, collaboration, productivity and cost reduction.

Here’s how the benefits break down:

  1. Labor, time and infrastructure savings: Small businesses often realize significant savings by using the cloud to back up and archive data, automate routine tasks, or outsource aspects of their infrastructure, such as managing their servers. Consider replacing or implementing a standard virtual private network (VPN) for file sharing and collaboration with a cloud-based equivalent network to help reduce overhead.
  2. Convenient access: Compared to just using a server at your office, storing your company’s data in the cloud offers better access, whether you’re at home or on a mobile device. Automatic, offsite data backup like Carbonite can help make your data more secure and more convenient.Keep in mind that archiving data is a little different from backup. Small businesses are essentially looking to remove data from their location and have it stored elsewhere with some limited access to it. Again, a cloud-based archive provides greater convenience than a hard drive or paper file storage.
  3. Innovation-rich space: Becoming comfortable using cloud services also positions your business to harness the latest tools for automation, collaboration, productivity and cost reduction.

For example, if your business uses point-of-sale equipment, you may be able to switch to mobile payment systems such as Google Wallet and LevelUp. With LevelUp, your phone essentially replaces your cash register and hardware for swiping credit cards. It’s more than just being able to swipe a credit card on your iPhone; it’s kind of a new form of payment, almost like using electronic tickets at the airport.

Over the next five years, the cloud will probably become the most important aspect of many small businesses, after their products and their customers. So instead of lightening your workload by hiring an assistant, start looking for cloud services to handle those tasks. You’ll likely find solutions that are less expensive, more convenient and that support further innovation within your business.

What cloud services are you using? What benefits have you seen from moving to the cloud? Any advice for those just starting out?