7 Cloud Tools You’ll Need When Starting Your Small Business

One of the best things you can do for yourself as a small business or start-up owner is to use cloud computing. Accessing most aspects of your business from the internet, wherever you go, is now a business necessity. Plus, cloud software can do almost anything your business needs, whether that’s accounting, storage, or inventory management. Let these cloud-based tools do some of the work for you, so you can focus on your products, services, and innovation. There are at least seven cloud tools you’ll need when starting your small business.

Data Storage

Data storage is the most popular way businesses use cloud computing. Companies generate a large number of electronic documents and files that take up space on servers. Investing in a private server isn’t cost-effective for a small business, which is why cloud-based storage is such a smart solution. One of the most popular free options is Google Drive, because multiple users can work in the same document at once, and because giving document or folder access to different parties is so simple.

Business Management

7 Cloud Tools You'll Need When Starting Your Small Business
7 Cloud Tools You’ll Need When Starting Your Small Business
Point-of-sale transactions, employee scheduling, vendor and employee payments, and production management are things your small business may have to do. Finding a cloud-based business management software that caters to your specific small business will help you keep track of your resources, pay your employees on time, and deal with e-commerce. Make sure to do your research; Booker, for example, is great for spas, but wouldn’t work in a law office.

Accounting

Managing your business’s money (and the minutia that goes along with it) can get complicated pretty quickly, especially if you don’t have any formal accounting experience. Instead of hiring an accountant, which can be expensive, invest your money in cloud accounting software from Sage One. When you subscribe to their cloud-based software, your available accounting tools include invoicing, tax assistance, and business insights.

Billable Time Recording

If your business needs to keep track of billable hours, find a cloud-based software solution, stat. Time sheets, spread sheets, and other solutions are messy when you compare them to the ease of a single cloud system. You and your employees will record your hours as you work, and the software creates invoices, costs, and reports. The best software allows you to customize the process, so you can look at the time you spend on each project, what costs are stacking up, and even what your daily expenses are.

Inventory Management

Any small retail business owner knows how much of a headache keeping track of inventory can be. But if you want your business to make money, you need your inventory process to be flawless. Use cloud inventory management software to track the inventory as it comes in and as it goes out. Not only will you get a digital report on your stock room, you’ll be able to see what’s selling and what isn’t. Some inventory management software will connect with your other programs, like ShipStation, to make the process even easier.

Document Signing

As a small business, you have a limited staff, which means every task and meeting needs to be purposeful. Save the time it takes to fax or mail a document needing a signature by investing in a cloud solution. Electronically sending and signing documents is more convenient for you and your clients. DocuSign is a cloud-based signature collection software with various subscription levels. At the business level, you can send unlimited documents for signatures, create and save templates, and customize your branding.

Communication

Depending on your small business, the communication technologies most useful to you will vary. Some small businesses need an easy way to communicate with employees who are working remotely or are on the road. Others need to video conference with clients, other businesses, or vendors. Choose a cloud-based communication technology that will easily allow you to connect in real time with the people you need to talk to.

Many of these programs streamline employee tasks, or remove the need for an employee in a certain arena, like accounting. Save time and money by installing those your business needs most, to free up your employees and yourself to do the things only humans can do.

( Photo by NEC Corporation of America )

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