Cloud computing has levelled the playing field for small businesses, start-ups and self-employed people. Whereas only larger organisations with significant resources at their disposal could access the latest software tools in the past, the scalability of the cloud makes cutting edge solutions available across the board.
Cloud adoption has increased steadily, but there are still plenty of firms that have yet to embrace it. If you are on the brink of taking the plunge but need a nudge in the right direction, here is a look at the ways in which modern cloud-powered platforms are putting up and coming businesses in the driving seat.
Without consistent, reliable cash flow, a start-up can flounder and find itself in dire straits. This is true whether you are a sole trader or a small but growing firm with a handful of employees. And there are two key aspects involved in avoiding this; winning new clients and securing payments.
The solutions offered by Smarty Software let you get the best of both worlds, assisting with providing quotes and letting you follow up by issuing invoices.
A dedicated page lets you collate quotes you have given clients, track sales you have made and manage invoices that have been sent out after the job is complete. This puts you in complete control, whether you are a contractor or a copywriter.
Because this is all accessible in the cloud, you can manage your invoicing admin while you are on the move from a smartphone or tablet. Chasing clients for payment is also a doddle, as is automating thank-you notes when they cough up the cash on time.
Crucially, these are all features that can only be accessed from cloud-based solutions, not traditional spreadsheet programs and office software. A computer brimming with Excel and Word files can be like a millstone around the neck of your budding business. Cut yourself free with the cloud and you’ll be reaping the benefits for years to come.
Another important aspect of keeping on top of cash flow during the early stages of building your business is ensuring that you can predict the peaks and troughs in turnover, rather than being blindsided by a sudden lack of funds at the worst possible time.
The more clients you have, the more complicated this inevitably becomes. And yet with traditional spreadsheet software, being able to accurately forecast and manage cash flow is intrinsically troublesome.
This is another area in which the cloud-based bookkeeping tools offered by Smarty come into their own. You can get an instant overview of the current state of play, look ahead to see what outgoings you have to cover in the near future, and establish how prepared you are for the next month, quarter or year.
Rather than having to balance several different spreadsheets like so many spinning plates, you can get everything you need in one place and even liaise with an outside accountant. And because it is hosted in the cloud, not tied down to a single PC, this approach is more flexible and intuitive, even for relative newcomers to the world of business bookkeeping.
As your organisation builds up a head of steam, the scalability of the cloud will easily accommodate your ever-growing list of clients. This is just another area in which the outdated, archaic approaches to accounting are woefully inadequate.
Managing your relationships with customers and clients can shore up your brand image, generate repeat business and spread positive vibes about your organisation via word of mouth. With CRM software based in the cloud, this is not only far more straightforward to achieve, but also essential for complete regulatory compliance.
This May the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect, requiring all businesses to keep customer data safe and secure at all times. And if you are still storing private info on paper, or in spreadsheet files that can be easily lost or stolen, you risk attracting the wrath of the regulators.
The easiest way to steer clear of such calamities is by using a CRM solution that is already compliant with the GDPR’s more stringent rules. Keeping customer data in the cloud, encrypted and out of reach of malicious third parties, will give you peace of mind and let you build trust with clients.
The cloud has the added benefit of being resistant to unplanned outages and data loss. Mission-critical info will be backed up across several servers and housed in different locations to counteract common disasters.
Finally a modern CRM will let you engage directly with clients, whether via email or phone, while keeping their details up to date in real time. No more struggling to find a pen and paper in the middle of a call; you can be on the ball and make that big sale without missing out on important information.
Keeping customers happy is about more than doing the bare minimum. You need to predict their needs and keep the lines of communication open so that fresh prospects can be reeled in while existing clients remain on board with your business.
Working out the most compelling, relevant angle for an email marketing campaign to achieve this is tricky at the best of times. But if you don’t have a good way of analysing the data, finding a strategy that works will be even tougher.
Once again the cloud can come to the rescue. Software not only makes it possible to manage a multi-tiered, individually targeted campaign to help with lead generation and repeat business; it can also automate much of this process.
People appreciate feeling connected with a business, but only if the marketing material they receive is linked to their interests and needs. So just as the cloud can optimise your work and cash flow management, it can make email campaigns simple to master without all the blood, sweat and tears you might expect. These are just some of the reasons that cloud migration makes sense right now.