Time, Money, The Cloud & You: How to Make It All Work for Your Business

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The Cloud

Resolutions may have come and gone by now, but all signs indicate that 2013 will still be a big year for small businesses and startups – especially when it comes to the use of cloud apps. A recent Microsoft survey claimed that 27% of small businesses expect to invest in new technology in the coming year and other tech experts are claiming that 2 out of 3 small businesses will further embrace mobility and cloud computing in 2013.

Are you already embracing new technology…or are you sitting on the fence…

But what does this mean for you? Are you already embracing new technology, waiting for the next best thing, or are you sitting on the fence, unsure of whether or not the new technology will be as great as all the talking heads seem to think?

To answer these questions, pinpoint the area(s) that you want your company to improve upon and then identify the apps that will help you achieve your goals.

Many small businesses are looking to improve their time management, general office productivity, finance and accounting, as well as sales and marketing.  Below is a quick cheat sheet that may help you put the cloud to work for you.

Time Management

Many people are busy, but small business owners take the cake. Being able to account for every moment spent and every appointment scheduled is something every SMB owner needs. The following meeting, appointment, and scheduling apps have been designed to help keep you in the know while you’re on the go.

Appointy is an online appointment-scheduling app that allows users to schedule appointments anytime, from anywhere, with any device with an Internet connection. In addition, Appointy lets your customers check availability or leave messages — no phone needed! If you’re running a business based off of an appointment system, you may want to consider making Appointy your best friend.

If you run a shift-based business, consider an app that will simplify employee shift scheduling. With ShiftPlanning, you can create, edit, and manage timesheets, payroll, and schedules. ShiftPlanning also sends notifications to employees when a change has been made or a shift missed.

General Office Productivity

This year, the cloud is your office. To keep up and stay agile in this world, small businesses need access to tools that allow them to collaborate on projects no matter where they are. These file sharing, collaboration, and task management apps all help create a collaborative work environment that you’ll want to implement.

Google Drive
Cut the leash to your desktop and start sharing your files and documents between devices, co-workers, and your team. Google Drive is a file storage and synchronization app that lets you create and edit your files online, while your teammates add their own information to the files in real-time.

Mijura is an online task management software tool for your business, projects, and teams. Mijura makes teamwork stress-free and increases productivity. See what everyone is working on, collaborate, track time and progress, manage meetings, generate reports, and more. Mijura works anywhere with an Internet connection, has email integration, and offers enterprise-level security.

Accounting and Finances

Each year we all want to start off with a blank slate for our finances, while hoping that this year we’ll do better than previous years. This year, try these handy invoicing, accounting, and inventory management cloud apps to improve and organize your finances for 2013.

Have you ever misplaced an invoice that you meant to mail to a client, only to later find it buried in a pile of paperwork? Toast is an online invoicing app designed to manage and organize your invoices. Toast includes a built-in scanner, online client database, and detailed analytic reports all designed to help you invoice faster, organize better, and get paid quickly in 2013.

This year, look at how you can improve your accounting practices. Cut out the expensive accounting package and try something new. Kashoo is an easy-to-use cloud accounting app, designed so that anyone can use it. You don’t have to be an accountant to keep or decipher your books; you simply need the right tools.

Sales and Marketing

Surprisingly, the heart of your business is not your crisp operations or even in your wonderful product. It’s in your sales and marketing. Whether you want to drive more conversions or get the word out about your product, you need to have strong marketing tools at your disposal. In order to strengthen these areas, try out these cloud apps which are designed to improve your sales and customer interaction.

Are you tied to your office’s conference room anytime you want to host a meeting? Do you need a new way to reach clients and customers? Break free from your binds and increase your mobility with MeetingBurner’s app. You can host meetings with your team anytime, anywhere, and with any Internet-connected device you have. Not to mention you’ll also have access to detailed reports and tools to improve every meeting you hold.

Another excellent tool to make use of this upcoming year, Zopim gives you the power to monitor visitors on your website and engage them in conversation. It’s a live-chat program you can easily place on your landing page to help steer customers in the right direction, and you’ll also be able to receive feedback as well as implementing a valuable medium with which to gain feedback from your customers.

This is going to be the year of the small business, as the cloud will help companies increase in efficiency, collaboration, mobility, and more. These new apps and tools will help SMBs take advantage of technology in the coming year to create new opportunities to increase revenue and profits.

Jennifer Hutchison is a tech blogger currently based in Los Angeles.  She has covered a wide range of topics including beauty products, travel, books, technology, and small businesses.  Jennifer is a graduate of CSUN, where she majored in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing.  She is the Online Marketing Specialist for InfoStreet, makers of SkyDesktop, a free Cloud-based desktop.