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Moving to the Clouds – 5 Cloud Based Tools for Small Businesses

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Moving to the Clouds – 5 Cloud Based Tools for Small Businesses
Unless you’ve been conducting your business from under a rock, you’ll be aware that these days most businesses are looking to move their software and their storage to the cloud as a way of improving productivity, saving money and streamlining their operations. Using cloud-based services it is now possible to have all of your files, calendars, email, databases and applications in one place and easily accessible by anyone in your company from anywhere in the world. The advantages are obvious – you and your employees are no longer tied to the physical hardware in your office and do not have to worry quite so much about backing up the data in the office (although this should still be done as a precaution at least once a month.) Instead, by having your entire business based in the cloud, you will be able to manage your business from anyplace at anytime, and will be able to work smarter, faster and more efficiently. To get you started here are five cloud-based applications that all businesses should consider:

Basecamp – A project management suite that has been featured in everything from Wired to the Wall Street Journal and from the Financial Times to Time magazine, Basecamp is one of the best cloud based applications on the market, allowing you to manage multiple projects for multiple teams, with price packages dependent on the size of your organization. Used by large corporations such as Adidas, Kellogg’s, the World Bank, Continental Airlines and Warner Bros, as well as thousands of small businesses across the globe, once you have used basecamp for your business you will never look back. Post ideas and comments in your team section, share files and attach documents to comments, milestones and to do items, set due dates and assign responsibilities to team members, all from within one easy to use interface.

Evernote – If you’ve ever been bogged down in files, documents, ideas, plans and emails and are suffering from information overload then you need an information capture and collect system. If it is going to work at all that system needs to be cloud based, so it can sync with all your devices at any moment and so you can store your information in one place, accessible from anywhere. One application that is becoming massively popular in answer to such a demand is Evernote. Evernote allows you to capture absolutely any kind of file, from emails, texts, word documents, photographs and voice notes and then file them in one central place where they are processed, indexed, tagged and then synced via Evernote to all your devices. Indispensable.

Outright – An online business accounting package for people who hate accounting (and that includes most of us.) Outright claims to help you “Free yourself from accounting” and is the perfect application for helping small business owners keep up to date with their income and expenses, the taxes that they owe and whether they are on track for the month. At only $9.99 a moth it is an absolute bargain.

Schedulicity – If you have a small business that is heavily customer or client oriented then you will need to make sure you are up to date with all your appointments and your appointments system. Schedulicity does exactly that, combining three areas of your online business world – online scheduling, mobile internet and soclal media. Schedulicity gives you access to your scheduling calendar anytime and anyplace but more importantly, it gives your clients access to your calendar and allows them to reserve appointments with you seven days a week and 24 hours a day. They can even do this from their Facebook page, from their iphone, Blackberry or android phone – meaning you never lose business and they feel like they have a relationship with your company.

Chrometa – If you work freelance or employ freelance workers, or if you’re on the road a lot and need to know how to bill your clients then Chrometa is the perfect cloud app for you and your company. Chrometa will monitor the time you spend working without you having to set a timer and clock in / clock out. Instead, Chrometa will log all your computer activity and then it will break down your working time into time spent on particular applications, email, documents or web pages. Just don’t spend too much time tweeting!

Alex is a journalist and tech blogger. He’s a self-confessed mac fanboy and blogs about everything tech, from ipads to where to find the latest Virgin Media Discount Code.

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