Moving business operations to the cloud can help your small business save money, work more efficiently, and glean more valuable consumer insights. It doesn’t have to take several months either! Here are 6 easy ways to improve small business operations by moving your business functions to the cloud today!
1. Documents & Storage
Documents are the foundation of small business operations – bills, invoices, contracts and so much more! You can free up office and computer space (makes ’em faster!) by moving all non-secure documentation to cloud storage (Google Drive, Amazon Cloud Storage, or Dropbox). Not only will this make the files or documentation easier to access by numerous team members, it will also make it easier to search for the document you need. You can create an organized filing system, or simply use the search function. It only takes a few minutes to create files, and then just a few seconds to upload the documents to the cloud.
Let there be document access for all!
Note: for important documentation, we suggestion saving a digital copy on a hard drive, just in case!
Without a doubt, one of the best things you could do for your small business operationa is to move your accounting data to the cloud. Not only is QuickBooks moving away from even supporting their old desktop software, but cloud accounting simply makes business operations easier and more efficient. Your accountant can easily access your files and make any needed changes in a few minutes (or quickly pull a report to answer any burning, late night questions in a snap!). Both you and your accountant will be better equipped to retrieve any historical records, and will have reporting tools to run analysis across those historical records to reveal key business insights. The most important reason to move to cloud accounting? QuickBooks and Xero offer hundreds, even thousands, of tools and apps to make your business better- all available via the cloud. Some apps, the number one small business AR management tool, the FG Receivables Manager, do still work with desktop accounting packages, but connect must faster to cloud accounting packages.
You could move all your accounting data to the cloud in just an afternoon, and your accountant will love you forever.
3. Customer Database
Your customers can help you grow your business- you just need to be able to study them and their buying habits. A “CRM” (customer relationship management) tool will not only help you easily recall contact information or other customer details, but it will also provide insights into how most of your customers found you, what they like to buy and when, and what promotions are most likely to lead to increased sales! There are many great companies to choose from, SalesForce, InfusionSoft, Zoho (free!), or Insightly are all excellent for small businesses.These programs incorporate emailing, and can provide you with insights into whether your newsletters or promotional communication is succeeding- or not.
If you’re ready to take your attracting new customer operations up a notch, these CRMs can also track “leads” before they even become customers! CRMs can provide easy-to-understand reports that summarize many useful customer learnings, which can help you determine how best to grow and expand your business. Time to get started? Less than a week to get fully up and running!
4. Customer Support
One of the most popular questions we get asked by small business owners, is how to improve their customer support using online tools. It’s a wonderful move to improve overall small buiness operations, and the cloud can really take your customer support to the next level. Services like ZenDesk (what we use), Freshdesk, and SmarterTrack are all affordable, and powerful tools for small businesses. You’ll be able to see the effectiveness of your customer support staff (how long do they take to resolve issues? How many issues do they handle in a week?), and you will be able to track which types of issues come up the most often. Since all the questions and answers are all available online, via the cloud, customer service staff can cover for one another or assistant in complicated matters with ease. Data/insight, efficiency, and collaboration- that’s a winning combo! It will likely take just a few days to move your operations over to one of these cloud customer support services.
5. Time Tracking
Want to accurately keep track of employee work times, over time, location, and even paid time off? One of our favorite, perfect-for-small-business companies TSheets can do it all! With their desktop and mobile tools (plus alerts!) your business can increase in employee time tracking compliance of up to 99%! As with all the other apps and softwares on this list, moving operations to the cloud can provide you with helpful data on performance and where your pain points might be. TSheets even takes time tracking one step further and provides features for job costing and payroll syncing. Time to get set up? Just a few hours!
6. Inventory Management
Want to instantly save money each month? It’s time to start managing your business’ inventory! The most effective way to do this is with a cloud-based inventory management tool. Just like with other services listed here, moving inventory management operations to the cloud saves time, improves accuracy, allows access to numerous employees and departments, and provides insights on your overall inventory levels to help you making smarter stocking and purchasing decisions.