When humans first began selling goods and services in a marketplace, transactions were mostly local. It took centuries for advances in transportation and communication to expand the realm of commerce beyond the village. But it has taken only a few years for the marketplace to expand from global to virtual. Today, virtual markets thrive, empowered by cloud computing, or simply, the cloud, where goods and services are distributed over the Internet.
It’s difficult to find any part of modern society and business that doesn’t use the cloud to some advantage, but arguably the sector that has benefited most is small business. Prior to cloud computing and virtual marketplaces, small businesses were limited in terms of access to markets. But with the advent of cloud computing and virtual markets, an expanded universe of products and services has become available to every small business.
In previous times as markets expanded through trade, products led the way. But technology has helped services catch up. Today, digital services also can be delivered efficiently through the cloud. And more than anything else, this last reality has helped small businesses compete in the former domain of larger companies.
Consider these five categories of cloud-based services that can help your small business be more efficient, competitive and profitable:
1. Processing power:
Powered by the cloud, robust software applications are leased by the month or year and accessed as needed without having to install the software on a computer. Advantages include higher levels of capability, more immediate updates and expensing instead of capitalizing.
2. Information power:
Cloud-based communication, connection, customer development, community building and financial applications are helping small businesses acquire and manage information quicker and more strategically.
3. Financial power:
Cloud-based e-commerce makes good on the “sell while you sleep” promise. It has never been easier or more cost-effective for small businesses to offer, sell and even deliver products and services every hour and every day of the year.
4. Talent power:
Many 21st century jobs don’t require employees to work under the nose of management. Cloud-based communication and collaboration tools help virtual working relationships succeed. And cloud-based employee searching helps employers find the best candidates.
5. Asset protection power:
Business assets used to be largely tangible, like inventory and equipment. Today more and more business assets come from intellectual property. But protecting intangible, digital assets on more vulnerable traditional networks has been problematic for small businesses. Cloud-based data backup services work automatically, securely, productively and cost-effectively.
It’s likely that most small-business owners use cloud resources more than they realize. But with all the cloud capability available, every small business should not only become more aware of how to use the cloud, but intentionally exploit it as a component of their growth and profitability strategy.
Write this on a rock: Increase my small-business marketplace power with cloud-based resources.
Jim Blasingame is one of the world’s leading experts on small business and entrepreneurship. He is the creator and host of the weekday radio program “The Small Business Advocate Show.” Jim is also a speaker, a syndicated newspaper columnist, and the author of “Small Business is Like a Bunch of Bananas” and “Three Minutes to Success.”
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of FedEx.
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