Small Business Cloud|Digital Basics

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Moving Local to Remote

Thinking of moving from your small office to a cloud service provider?   You have to consider the risks and rewards.  It is important to understand the costs and benefits and you have to invest time into thinking about it.  Here are a few reasons to consider moving to the cloud:

  1. Scale – You can expand or limit services in real-time as demand requires.  If your company is growing quickly, you can gain the resources you need very quickly.
  2. IT Security –  Many providers today focus on a multitude of security solutions in order to lower your risk and save you time and money.
  3. Data and Content Agility / Availability –  Moving to a cloud model offers you an opportunity to have more access under more conditions to your content.  Think about the elimination of local networks and VPN solutions.
  4. Technology Agnostic- Many cloud solutions offer browser-based solutions or light applications that work on almost any operating system.  This creates an opportunity to get going faster and use hardware or software of my choice with less concern.
  5. Cost controls- Notice, I am careful to say “saving money” because saving money with cloud computing isn’t a fact.  You can have a better handle on what you are spending and where the money is going.  This can, in the long run, help you manage costs better, which in turn CAN save money.
  6. Operational resilience – If all of your work, files, data, records are in your office and if something happens without a live remote backup or are not working from a cloud platform, all can be easily lost or damaged.
  7. Left Behind – If you aren’t working in a newer operating model or the new ways of working, it can be a detriment to your business.  You may not be able to easily ship, receive, track or execute.  You may not keep customers that have expectations of digital engagement.   You may suffer from a lack of knowledge in being a “digital laggard.”

Getting Beyond Start

Most people today have some kind of digital footprint.  Most small companies have more of a digital presence than they know or realize.  They may not have taken ownership of their business in Google or Bing.

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This is just the start.   All of the analysis and understanding of what it means to be digital and managing your small business is complicated.  This will either cost you money now or cost you time and money as urgent situations become emergency situations.

The internet can bring your business to a stop.  Moving to remote resources from an operational perspective is part of a larger small company digital strategy.

A little learning goes a long way but many small and medium-size business owners don’t spend the time on this because they can’t see the value.  It is simply about where they believe their time and resources are best spent.  They also can’t afford or don’t want to spend a lot on consultants or advisors.  A lack of knowledge concerning digital strategy and cloud is today a lack of knowledge about your business.  I’ll leave you with one quick example.

I met a woman at one of my kid’s baseball games.  Her boyfriend owns a contracting company and she mentioned his website is all messed up.  I asked her what “messed up” meant and she said, “oh, I don’t know, he wants to post pictures and stuff.”  I told her that I’d be happy to meet him for a cup of coffee to understand what he wanted to do and learn about the website.   She agreed and we went on to meet.

Jeff is about 5’9 inches rusty hair, 55 years old, a talented contractor with many years of experience.  That said, the first thing he told me was that he “knows where the power button is but thats about it.”  I asked him three questions.

  1. What is your business about?
  2. What are you trying to accomplish and in what timeframe?
  3. What is your goal?

He asked me why I was asking questions about his business when he came to meet about his website.  I asked him if he wanted to understand how to solve a technical problem or if he wanted to accomplish his business goals.   About a cup and a half of coffee later, I had a better handle on what he was looking to do.   Basically, he wanted to attract people to his contracting business.  He wanted to highlight the things he could do and he wanted to grow but at a slow pace because he felt that he couldn’t get the manpower he would need to scale quickly.

We went through his website and started digging into the business itself.  He realized that this was more complicated than he initially thought.   I offered him to do some homework and just talk at baseball games if he could find the time to make the game or practice.

A few things we found immediately.

  1. He was spending money on a website that did nothing for him
  2. Operationally, he couldn’t handle the calls he was receiving as-is.
  3. He didn’t own his digital presence and he wasn’t managing himself in any platform.
  4. He didn’t know what people were saying about him or his work.
  5. He was trying to use a cloud platform to drum up business but he didn’t understand how it worked.

After a few meetups:

  1. He got rid of the website.
  2. He started using Thumbtack full-time to drive and manage his demand.
  3. He started to take control of his business identity on the web.

As a result, he was able to manage his intake and demand easier.

  1. He had lower costs because he wasn’t managing something he didn’t need.
  2. He could focus more on the business and less on trying to figure out all the places he needed to do things.
  3. He didn’t need to use his laptop.  He could do everything on his mobile device. He was much more comfortable using the phone.

I asked recently how things were going during the new sports season and his girlfriend mentioned that Jeff is very busy and that he is managing everything through the service.  His business is growing and he finds it much easier to manage and maintain.  He can even turn jobs down without regret or feeling like he is giving himself a bad name.

While we only touched on a fraction of where Jeff could take his business.   A little knowledge of cloud and digital goes a long way.

We also need to talk about risks and cloud pain..

What do you think?

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