Going toe-to-toe against the big guy was incomprehensible for most small-to-medium business (SMB) owners as recently as 10 years ago. Back then, SMB owners were solving problems with thumb tacks and elbow grease.
Cloud computing has changed the way that SMBs take on the Goliaths.
Cloud computing and cloud-hosting companies have leveled the playing field, giving SMBs the chance to stand on equal footing with companies 100 times their size and net worth. Getting in the cloud can give SMBs opportunities and leverage that could have taken years in a brick-and-mortar environment. Here’s a closer look at 6 top benefits of cloud computing for small businesses.
If you’re at least 30 years old, think back to your first job that involved the Internet and computer networks. When those servers would go down, or the network developed some mysterious ailment, it was time for your 2-hour lunch. Those days are in the distant past once your small business moves into the cloud.
Cloud hosting companies are measured by just a few variables, and one of those is uptime – keeping your business online as close to 24/7/365 as possible.
Cloud Harmony took a survey of the top cloud hosting sites’ uptimes in 2016 and found that Google had just 74 minutes of “total time lost” in 2016, Amazon Web Services (AWS) had 108, and Microsoft Azure had 270.
Azure, the “worst” of the big four providers, was up for 99.949% of the year. That equals 44.9 seconds of downtime per day. Not bad. Having all your infrastructure always available means employees aren’t sitting at their desks or taking extra coffee or smoke breaks while the system reboots. Cloud computing environments also save whatever you were working on in the rare instances that they do go offline, meaning no more files lost because they users did not save them before the glitch. Even better, a cloud hosting company has its own IT team that responds the second your cloud service is interrupted and began working immediately to restore it. Compare that to the time it takes for someone in a brick-and-mortar office to notice a problem, attempt to fix it, then notify IT to take a stab at it, and you can see your firm’s productivity going through the roof.
It’s the Holy Grail when you own a small business: one of your most significant capital costs reduced to pennies on the dollar. The power of cloud computing means no more purchasing of memory to hold your infrastructure or license after license to provide more copies of specific software as your brand expands.
With cloud computing, you’ll purchase and pay for only the services and space that you’ll need, and not a byte or a penny more. The cloud company can provide you software as a service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), or even your entire platform as a service (PaaS) for costs that are fixed until you need to grow, and can shrink if your business needs to take a step back.
That sort of freedom is a godsend for small business owners. The costs of computers, processing power, memory, and software are some of the most significant capital expenses one can face when getting a business off the ground in the traditional set-up.
Between freelancers, contractors, remote workers, and business travelers, it’s a miracle to get an entire company staff together in your conference room at the same time. However, hosting your server or infrastructure in the cloud allows everyone to be on the same page all the time no matter what time zone they’re in or what continent they’re on.
If you’re starting a new business, odds are you’ll do a good bit of traveling either by car, train, or plane. Cloud computing gives you the opportunity to feel like you’re at your desk back at the office the entire time because you can log straight into that environment from anywhere and on any device.
Employees can work from home when their kids are home sick from school without missing a beat. Salespeople can harness the power of the whole company in a handheld device while closing deals with new customers.
You can hire freelancers across the city, the state, or the country without ever needing them to come by the office for on-boarding.
Long-Term Software Security
Before cloud computing, business owners would dread the coming of new editions of necessary software tools. The latest version of Adobe Photoshop, Oracle, Salesforce, or Microsoft Office meant one of two things:
- Forking over the money now to upgrade every to the best version or;
- Seeing how long you could push it with the older version until it became obsolete.
You’ll still pay for upgrades to software in the cloud, but the price drops dramatically. When you purchase your initial batch of Adobe products, you’ll get an email notifying you when they have updates available. Instead of buying new software off the shelves of a computer store or waiting for it to arrive in the mail, the update is done over the cloud, usually while you’re asleep, and is ready to go by the next time you log in.
Software manufacturers grasped the power of the cloud when it first came into widespread use. They can offer such cheap prices because they no longer have to produce the actual physical product or its packaging, not to mention dealing with retail stores or the cost of delivery.
Simplicity of Scaling
Getting bigger is something every small business wants and every small business fears. When all signs point to the ability to expand, it’s still a massive leap of faith to do so.
Even if it’s for a one-time event like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, we realize that while those extra costs might be tax-deductible, it’s still very possible that the expansion is a colossal failure that costs us tons of money.
Scaling your business up in the cloud is the complete opposite of those sensations. Increasing your processing power, your scope of software use, or adding a database or two are all done with costs pre-fixed and at the touch of a button. If you realize after a day, a week, or a month that that expansion was premature, all of those increases can vanish back down to your original size, with the cost dropping along with them.
Big Data Analysis
The Golden Grail of the digital age is the ability to collect data coming into your business, analyze it, and turn it into actionable plans to increase revenue, cut costs, and maximize productivity.
For small business owners, this might sound like their White Whale of goals – desirable but impossible to capture. However, cloud computing makes it into a reality by offering space and processing power for your company to integrate automated systems to collect, analyze, and store your data.
Analytics can provide your company the edge it needs to battle past the competition and capture customers for the long haul. The cloud is the perfect environment to bring your business into the digital era to stay.