In honor of National Small Business Week, I thought I’d share some technology tools that are ideal for small businesses.
When I first started my business back in 2000, providing IT services to small businesses, we definitely didn’t have what we do today in the way of easy-to-setup and cost-effective technology tools. If your small business wanted file sharing and corporate email, we would have had to setup your own Small Business Server in your office. If you wanted the ability to have multiple phone extensions, voicemail, and direct dial, you had to buy your own phone system. If you wanted remote access to any of your IT systems, we would have had to install a terminal server for you. And, the most common tool back then for managing tasks and projects was Microsoft Project.
Over the last 10 years, it’s amazing how many of these IT functions have moved to the cloud, in a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) format, not only removing huge capital costs, but also making them more reliable and worry free. Here are some of my favorites:
For as little as $20 per month, you can have a fully functional phone system in the cloud, including auto attendant, voicemail, multiple extensions, and the ability for calls to reach you practically anywhere on the planet. I’ve yet to find a small business these days that needs a phone system and shouldn’t consider hosted VoIP. There are dozens of options to pick from, and when it comes to VoIP, having the right network and internet connection is key.
Systems such as Basecamp (Have you read my “Ode to Basecamp??”) and Asana give teams an easy way to track projects, tasks, progress, and deadlines. They can be used by employees, clients, and contractors alike, and are generally available in a freemium model.
This is practically a no brainer. Between Google Mail and Office 365 (along with dozens of hosted Exchange variants), anyone can have their own domain and email set up within a matter of minutes.
For any company, their data is crucial. Gone are the days of backup tapes (one for each day of the week) that rotate around in someone’s briefcase. While some systems may already live in the cloud (such as hosted email and applications), there’s almost always some local applications and data (such as accounting software, spreadsheets, and documents) which need to be backed up. Backblaze, Carbonite, and Mozy are excellent choices for backing up laptops and desktops, and there are other options for network servers and databases.
Workspace as a Service
Based on years of helping small businesses with their IT and seeing the headaches that still exist, especially with hardware (and honestly what small business wants to even have to worry about backups??), we’ve taken the “as-a-Service” model a step further into the cloud and now offer an all-in-one IT package in the cloud, including desktops, servers, applications, storage, backup, service and support, allowing companies to simply get their entire IT as a service without having to worry about hardware failures or upgrades, remote access, data loss, or anything else. Read more about why we developed Boxtop, and how it combines the best of cloud and our service expertise in one.
The access to these technology tools has changed the landscape for small business, and we’re proud of what we continue to do after 16 years, as a small business helping other small businesses.