Owning a small business means never being off the clock. It might be 3 p.m. on a Saturday, and you’re drifting peacefully in a boat
across a lake. One comment from a fellow weekender suddenly flips you from relaxed weekend mode into business mode. Of course, this is only one example. These little episodes can happen at a family dinner, a dental appointment, in a dark movie theater or any one of a billion scenarios. In all these scenarios, you are innately equipped with your personal business acumen. However, if the situation gets serious, you will probably find yourself without specific documents that may be required to seal a deal. This is where cloud computing is helpful.
If you aren’t backing up and securing your important documents online (i.e. “the cloud”), then you could be cutting your business off at the knees. Paper is still a vital part of contract work and long-term secure storage, but having remote access to contracts, legal documents, sales materials and everything else vital to the operation of your business is imperative.
Cloud computing can be confusing, but the general idea is that you can download, edit and upload your materials anywhere on any device. No matter what files you need to access, cloud storage affords the possibility to find and use them at a moment’s notice. For the most basic of examples, look no further than word processing. In a non-cloud operation, you would need a desktop computer with Microsoft Word or some equivalent. The cloud options for word processing are so open, it will make your head spin. Microsoft 365, Google Drive, SalesForce, DropBox, ZoHo — any and all of these allow you to open, create, edit, finalize and share word processing
documents on practically any web-enabled device. As if that’s not enough, many of these cloud tools allow for multiple users to have these documents open, simultaneously editing and saving them.
Price wars have been waging for so long in this industry that the cost is now virtually nothing. With Google Drive, it is nothing — unless you start backing up large media files like pictures, videos or infographics. In those cases, securing enterprise-wide
business storage and usage is $25 a month for limitless users. DropBox, Microsoft and SalesForce all price in very similar fashions, and the resources beyond storage and document editing make non-computing the real cash furnace.
Do you need to embrace cloud computing? Well, it depends on if you want to work untethered and secure new business even when your storefront says “Closed for Business.” With cloud computing as an asset, that sign is a thing of the past. ♦
Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. Follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb.