Imagine sitting at a table with your laptop perched in front of you and a steaming cup of your favorite coffee just within reach. Now, imagine running your business like that. Thousands of people do it all around the world every day, why not you? Many even do it from scenic perches. All you need to get started is a computer with Internet access and you’re ready to go!
Imagine not being tied down to an actual location, which you would generally be paying a monthly lease, utilities, security, advertising, and employees. It used to be that you had to have an actual physical business location to be a viable and profitable business. Now, with a few accounts online, you can have your cake and eat it, too!
You see, cloud computing makes it all possible. To the newbies reading this post, cloud computing is utilizing web-based programs. From storing information for retrieval at a later date, like with QuickBooks or Drive HQ, to sharing photos with your friends in Picasa, its all cloud computing.
There are thousands and thousands of programs you can use to run your business without leaving your chair. For most to all of online programs you end up creating an account which usually takes less than 3 minutes or so. Let’s take a look at a few now.
Online document editors are generally free. I have not found one I’ve had to pay for. They remind me of a giant whiteboard in a classroom where others, you invite, are able to view the document and/or suggest changes. This is helpful as not everyone is down with the latest version of the hottest word processing software out there and it, in a sense, evens the playing field. Of course, if you are looking for something with the capabilities and options of MS Word, you won’t find it, but, all the basics, plus a few extras are available. This is great, especially if your computer crashes the night before your big meeting with a client or boss. All you have to do is access the Internet and instant access!
This is an excellent tool for conferencing with your clients, boss or assistant. You do, however, need to ensure that you do, in fact, have a web-cam, else the person on the other side sees a black square in place of your head. An awesome thing about this is that with certain online programs…they’re free!
Cloud [File] Storage
Online file storage, also known as ‘cloud storage’ is a service in which you can either back up your computer or just specific files and the storage space is hosted by the service provider (IE: Dropbox, Mozy, Elephant Drive). Basically, you are paying for them to act as an off-site external harddrive for extra storage. A neat thing about this is if you have specific files you regularly share with others, you can give them access to your whole folder or just a file at a time.
A shockingly realistic fact: each year an average US company will go through roughly 50,000 sheets of paper for their fax machine alone. That’s four trees. You could keep it simple by subscribing to online fax services, which deliver faxes straight to your inbox. This gives you the option of whether or not the fax is even worth printing. Many fax services charge a monthly fee for X amount of faxes sent and/or received. It’s cheaper than shelling out the big bucks for fax machine AND dedicated fax line.
Are there are times when you need to access your company books to know what you have on to work with, yet are away from the office? With online accounting programs you can not only access your books, but have your assistant do the invoice. These also have the option of payroll services, too. Remember, you get what you pay for and that includes security. Make sure your data is backed up, safe and secure.
Getting ready for an event where you need handouts, fliers or even posters? PLANNING AHEAD and using on-demand printers can really save you money, time and headaches. While producing your flier, handout, poster or even postcard ahead of time works for many people, for others it doesn’t work so well. In this instance you can go online and, using one of the service’s templates, input your info, create the file, order it to your exact specifications and have it delivered to your office or other destination. You can even send it to a third party.
Some on-demand printers offer mailing services while others showcase their mailing services. Say you have a newsletter or brochure you need printed, labeled and mailed out to everyone on your mailing list. For some companies it would equal a lot of ‘assistant power’ to pull it off and that means…overtime. The REALLY GOOD mailing services offer bulk mailing at bulk mailing prices. This means they went through the hassle of getting a specific mailing permit through the post office and follow specific guidelines. They make it look easy and save you the headaches of presorting the mail.
I’m sure I’m leaving many out, but at least you are beginning to get the gist of how easy it can be to run your business without leaving your chair.