Backup for Android, iOS, Collaboration and CRM for small businesses
How are small businesses using Cloud based CRM, File Sharing and Backup services today?
Our blogs are usually about mobile devices, apps and how they make life better. However, today I want to talk about a personal example of how a small business owner is using Cloud based services to run their business like CRM, File Sharing and Backup. My wife has a small business – a high end fitness studio and after working out this morning, I was struck by how cloud based services have not only permeated the small business space, but have delivered on the promise of bringing large business services to small businesses and significantly improving our products to consumers. It is hard for me to express how important this is, especially since I believe that small and medium businesses will be the driving force to lift the economy from its current doldrums.
Our small business scenario
Take our example – MindBodyOnline.com; the CRM system we use is one packaged solution that enables our web commerce, point of sale systems, stored value cards, monthly rate plans, checks people in, tracks employee work time, tracks inventory, and generates a number of reports for internal operations and outreach. Quickbooksonline.com enables us to manage our finances, generate paychecks, pay vendors, pay taxes (whoopee!), analyze our margins, and view P&L statements and cash flow. Also, since it’s a cloud service, we enter information from the studio or home and our accountant contributes from her house, it’s accessible day or night, wherever we happen to be.
A small company is not an island and wee work closely with many partners to put together our services. To accomplish, we use DropBox and GoogleDocs which are easy and accessible anywhere and anytime. We use the same services for internal documentation and manuals and internal communications that our employees can review at home if they choose.
Marketing and outreach
For our website we use SquareSpace, a cloud based content management system that enables us as “non-skilled” labor to make simple changes to our website. For big jobs, we use our web designer who is fantastic. Also, the system generates reports on user visits, referral sites, in-bound links etc., so we understand our traffic. For our contact/newsletter system, ConstantContact stores our contact lists, enables easy and attractive newsletter creation and archiving and tracks newsletter opens and responses. It also embeds Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter links to leverage our other and most important outreach efforts: social networks. It may be a different perspective, but we see Facebook as a cloud based CRM and outreach system for the business. It enables us to continually reinvest in our customer relationships connecting with them in their homes or work and not at the studio. It’s a great way to communicate a new class, announce new team members and celebrate individual customers. Finally, even though we use a lot of cloud services, there is still a bunch of important documentation, graphic designs, images, and legal stuff on our computers. To be safe we use Mozy to back up our PC’s and laptops every night. And again, since its cloud based, even if we bring the laptop home, it wakes up and backs up using our home based Wi-Fi system. Pretty dang cool.
OK, so how do I loop this back to SaveIt? SaveIt! is also a cloud based service by Perlego, working in the background of your mobile devices, backing up important information and keeping it safe in case of breakages, theft, or loss. For a fitness studio, much of our business takes place outside our facility. We work in parks, go on hikes, and partner with other locations. To support this, we use smartphones, (iPhones, Androids) and iPads. Having SaveIt! on our devices guarantees us that our important information is always backed up in case of theft or loss. SaveIt! is also ideal for small businesses and families because it works with Blackberry’s, iPhones, Android phones, iPads, Google Tablets, and soon Windows Phones so users can choose whatever device they prefer. Also, because it is an account based system a user can have multiple devices on the same account. For example a user backs up their Android Samsung GS3 and iPad to the same account and SaveIt! keeps all the backup sets straight. Also pretty dang cool.
Here’s a great infographic that summarizes the challenges of managing time as a small business owner and how leveraging online cloud services and mobile apps help.
How about the other small businesses out there. What cloud services do you use to run your business?