A 2013 analysis by cloud-computing provider Virtustream found that more than half of U.S. businesses use cloud computing in some form. Here’s how you can use the cloud whether you have to manage just one, or if you have to manage multiple businesses:
End-user spending on cloud computing products is expected to surpass $180 billion per year by 2015, according to IT research firm Gartner. When it comes to business owners using the cloud the question has changed from if, to how much they use it for regular operations.
The advantages cloud computing offers a business are so pronounced that motivated entrepreneurs can run more than one company and not feel as overwhelmed as they may have 10 years ago.
If you are just jumping on the cloud bandwagon or if you are looking for the perfect solution for your businesses, the variety of options can be overwhelming. Below are several examples of types of cloud services to help you run multiple businesses. If you are still undecided, Top 10 Cloud Storage has reviews and price comparisons for all of the top cloud solutions. (Please note that while Dropbox is included on this list, our IT consultant has advised us that the site isn’t as secure as others.)
In a Forbes article, Gene Marks, of business consulting firm Marks Group PC, said his company currently services 600 clients. Although 90 percent of them use some kind of on-premise accounting software like Quickbooks (which his firm also sells), he believes America’s most popular accounting software will be obsolete in the next few years. The reason: there are simply far better options offered in the cloud.
ZenPayroll introduced its cloud-based payroll service last year, specifically for business owners with multiple companies. It allows accountants to use one dashboard for all the individual businesses without having to learn all new processes and passwords. It also automates payroll tax calculations and payments, direct deposits, filing and government paperwork.
Intuit Payroll, which supports Quickbooks, offers users some options for adding more companies to their subscriptions. But the extra steps and tediousness thereof will soon make Quickbooks an impractical option, as business owners would rather use their time marketing the new enterprise.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Hamilton Chan was faced with a difficult task in 2002. He inherited his father’s three-decades-old fledgling printing business, but also had designs on starting his own business from scratch. Chan told Business Week that he killed two birds with one stone by starting Paperspring.com. He leveraged the already-established customer base and reputation of Charlie Chan Printing to give his new enterprise the stimulus it needed to get off the ground. At the same time, he modernized the family business to make it profitable again.
CRM software can make establishing a second, related business simple. You can keep a database of customer buying patterns and service histories, and forecast future sales and potential new services offered based on raw numbers. Salesforce even has upgraded its platform to allow end-users full access via smartphones and tablets.
Data derived from your CRM platform can pinpoint a market need, which can be parlayed into a second business. The customer base, and metadata about it, provides a streamlined system for marketing that both companies can benefit from.
Scalability And Efficiency
A second business means more employees to manage, more transactions to audit and perhaps a new office space that needs to be paid for monthly. But business owners who already utilize the cloud can simply add services or increase bandwidth as necessary to accommodate increased demands.
Some business owners may rely on cloud experts at managed data centers when making these types of large-scale changes. Technology advisory firm CSC found in its 2011 Cloud Usage Index that 14 percent of business owners downsized their IT departments after adopting cloud solutions. Those businesses likely passed IT duties on to less qualified individuals. Expedient, for instance, provides 24-hour support and maintenance, along with consolidation services for different systems and databases. Managed data personnel will come at a cost, but are still far less expensive than full-time IT workers.
Cloud service management services can also help align multiple cloud stacks under one dashboard for seamless integration. For instance, the ServiceMesh Agility Platform is compatible with VMWare, Eucalyptus, OpenStack and several other services and platforms. Thus, your first business can be completely set up on one platform, and the second can use a different one. Both can then be controlled by the same cloud manager. ElasticBox and OpDemand are two more options that are compatible with different platforms.
The cloud can both give you an idea for a new business and provide you a head start in getting it established. Those who fail to incorporate cloud solutions into their enterprises are planning to fail.
If you enjoyed this article, you may also want to check out these others:
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How to Use Social Media to Grow Your Business
Rookie Social Networking Failures and How to Avoid Making Them
How to Get Business Referrals at Face-To-Face Networking Events
4 Ways To Grow Your Business Using LinkedIn
How To Amp Up Your Visibility With Facebook
4 Ways Business Blogging Helps Build Trust In Your Business
Grow Your Business With Email Marketing
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