December 28, 2017
I talked to Canadian Business about cloud technology for small business. In this post, I talk some more about it.
By Maureen McCabe
The small business owners I work with all point to “time” as the major issue affecting their long-term growth. When I delve deeper, I often find that it’s not about having too much work to do, but it’s about what gets in the way of doing that work: the little tasks that eat into the day.
Here’s the thing, though: most, if not all, of those tasks, if moved to the cloud, could be automated. So not only would these small business owners not have to do them, but they would be done better with the human element removed.
Big businesses have known this for some time, and many of them have moved most (if not all) their operations up to the cloud. So as a small business just getting your feet wet with cloud computing, here are four places to start saving time:
Customer Relationship Management, CRM
I was interviewed by Rebecca Harris from CanadianBusiness.com about the CRM benefits of the cloud, and what I said last year remains true. Imagine a prospect reaching out to you looking for information about your business, or maybe looking for a copy of your eBook. Today, you would have to stop what you are doing, find the materials in question, compose an email, attach the file and send it off.
It does not take a ton of time to do that (maybe three minutes), but consider that it takes 25 minutes to get back into the swing of things after being distracted by something else. So now, that three-minute task actually cost you 28 minutes.
By migrating CRM to the cloud, and with the right responses lined up, you will not have to respond at all because the system will pull the appropriate materials, pair it with the right message and fire it off. Twenty-eight minutes saved right there — and maybe a lot more depending on how many requests you get.
A 2pm internal meeting actually starts at 1:55 because you have to walk from your office to the boardroom. Now imagine you have four meetings in a day. There’s 20 minutes right there. Sure, the exercise may be worthwhile, but wouldn’t it be better to save that time by joining the meeting via a cloud-based video conference platform from your desk (or anywhere else for that matter)?
Setting up company-wide cloud-based communication lets you save those 20 minutes for your employees. And with work-life balance (read: leaving the office at 5pm) being given greater importance, those 20 minutes make a big difference.
You have an idea you want to share with your team. You email it out to get the ball rolling, and the chain starts to grow. By the time you get back to it, you have 15 emails to go through. And you have to keep jumping back and forth between emails to reference a point someone made about a point someone else made. Madness. And such a time waster — not just for you but for the person who then has to consolidate everything into a report.
Now consider a simple Google doc (yes, that counts as cloud computing). Put your initial idea in there and everyone has access to it. They can mark it up with comments, add their own ideas and make it better in real time.
To be fair, many people have issues with Google docs, especially as a file grows in size. The cursor will often lag behind the text you write, which is frustrating (like watching a TV show where the actors’ voices don’t line up with the movement of their mouths).
In that case, a simple move to a cloud platform like Dropbox can help. Write your idea in a Word file and put it in Dropbox for anyone to access.
Small business owners wear many hats, and HR manager is one of the more difficult ones. It takes time to sift through resumes and a lot of time to find the right ones. Then, when you find the right person, there’s the issue of contracts, insurance forms and other administrivia. And then, once they’re part of the team, you have to continuously train them. All this takes time.
But with a cloud-based HR platform, all of it’s automated for you. Resumes can be collected and filed according to role, contracts and forms can be automatically sent out when needed, and training programs can be uploaded and accessed on demand by employees. That’s a TON of time saved for you to handle your other CEO/CFO/VP of Sales and Marketing duties.
Cloud computing was MADE for small business
Until recently, big enterprise led the charge simply because of costs. But like any technology, prices are dropping. As a small business, now’s the time to start experimenting with cloud solutions because, quite honestly, in three years you won’t have a choice.
If you’re having trouble knowing where to start or simply want to learn more about cloud computing, contact McCabe Marketing for a complimentary marketing consultation.
For more small business technology tips, check out these posts:
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