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"'Ask the Small Business Professor' is a must read for small business owners looking for free expert business advice. Using a Q&A format, Bruce Freeman covers important small business topics weekly by bringing in recognized experts on subjects including accounting, legal issues, trademarks marketing and sales. Don't miss it!"
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Cloud Computing for Small Business
Dear Professor Bruce:
I am an independent real estate broker in danger of being shut out by my larger and better-funded competition. My budget is tight, but I'm considering investing in new technology to "keep me in the game." New hardware and software are very expensive, but what choice do I have?
Many small businesses (as many as 40%, according to a recent Microsoft survey) are considering cloud computing. Instead of purchasing multiple software packages, you, in effect, rent the business specific software and access it through the internet for a monthly operational charge based on usage. Instead of investing in software that quickly becomes obsolete, small businesses can save money with "pay as you go" plans for sales, contact, accounting, payroll, inventory, productivity, scheduling and other business software that resides "in the clouds," which is techno-speak for being able to access the technology via the Internet. Utilizing cloud computing, you can look like your larger competitors for a fraction of the investment and operational cost!
"With cloud computing, you may be able to reduce overhead costs if your employees work from home or on the road while showing properties. Ability to work remotely is a big benefit if your business is in an area that experiences weather related stoppages, like much of the Northeast did this winter, for example," notes Cindy Bates, Vice President of US Small, Medium Business and Distribution at Microsoft Corporation. "Communication and collaboration efficiencies are also common benefits to remote working. The ability to add branch locations at no additional support costs may be another benefit to small business owners."
Keep in mind that cloud computing should work together with much of your existing technology investment. One of the biggest benefits is your business's independence from hardware and software crashes - no more lost data or down-time! Imagine the cost and hassle if your computers were lost, stolen or damaged by a fire or flood. In addition, Cyber crime, malware and other threats are on the rise and they can shut down a small business within minutes. With cloud computing, these concerns are not an issue because the data is kept "in the cloud" so when working with a secure cloud technology provider, small businesses are less vulnerable to security breaches and can experience the kind of security previously enjoyed only by much larger companies. Cloud computing is the wave of the future and is worth considering for many small businesses.
For further information, please visit www.microsoft.com/business.
Utilizing cloud computing, you can look like your larger competitors for a fraction of the investment and operational cost!