As someone who works out of a home office in India with clients and a virtual team spread across the US and Australia, I have never once felt out of touch or overwhelmed with the demands of running a virtual business. Not only that, I have been able to go on a holiday without my personal computer and still check documents, participate in team meetings and do LOTS more without getting stressed at all.
Two words – Cloud Computing.
Working in the Cloud – What is It?
Simply put, working in the cloud is the ability to save your files ‘in the cloud’ and access information from anywhere. With cloud computing, suitcase entrepreneurs like you and me, can actually run our businesses on the go. We can collaborate, create and compute with partners and team members from anywhere, anytime.
Plus, for the non-geeky souls, like yours truly, cloud computing does not involve any hi-tech software that you need to download or worse, decipher. And for the budget-conscious entrepreneur, most cloud-based services are free or highly affordable.
Yes, cloud computing is sweet.
Tools to Choose from for Working in the Cloud
Here are some great tools that can let you run your business from anywhere without you missing a beat:
1. Google Docs
If you just want one cloud application, then please check this out. You can create, share, edit, send documents of all types and sizes without eating up your computer’s hard drive. Google Docs is what makes it super-simple for me to share large files with clients without messing with their emails. No attachments, no copy-pasting. Just create and share.
Free upto 2GB
Again, a fantastic way to share and collaborate with team members on documents, do your reading on the go and basically, carry everything you need with you. You can sync your iPhone or Droid to it and make accessing anything and everything you need to run your business a breeze. However, if you have a large team or a LOT of document sharing, you may want to consider upgrading to a PRO or Team account.
Cost: From $12.95/month
This amazing, effective accounting service from Intuit makes organizing your finances and accounting really simple and stress-free. Plus, it is super-simple for someone who just doesn’t have a head for numbers. It is my recommended resource for clients who need help organizing their finances but don’t want to get bogged down with paperwork and want their financial information fast.
Want to set up meetings, communicate deadlines and track projects easily? Check out Google Calendar. You can sync it with your Droid and share your calendar with team members, send meeting invites right from the calendar straight into their inboxes and because you can access it from anywhere – laptop, PC, phone, you’ll never have to carry a paper planner ever again.
Need a group collaboration tool that is easy, intuitive and fun? Check out Astrid.com, a todo list that actually helps you to get things done. You can share things with team members, clients, colleagues and ask for help, delegate, or simply stay accountable. Also, recently Astrid’s launched the email integration feature which like Gmail, allows you to email tasks to email@example.com and have your task list updated automatically. Oh, and you know what I heart the most, the cute little red Astrid icon that pops up with cute reminders when a task is due or overdue.
So, do you use the cloud to run your business?
About the Author: Prerna Malik is a suitcase entrepreneur who spends a lot of time in the cloud. Author of How to be a Work-at-Home Mom: The Happily Ever After Guide to Leading the WAHM Life and owner of Social Media Direct, she enjoys writing great content and creating effective social media strategies for her clients from her office in the cloud. Set up a FREE one-on-one Social Media or Web Content session with her for your small business here https://on.fb.me/tjAI4U
Photo Credit: Karin Dalziel