When you work in a business that’s already using cloud technology, it can be easy to think that every business is just as technologically-minded as yours.
But the numbers say otherwise: many small businesses in the UK aren’t making the most of the opportunities Internet technology has to offer, and it’s costing them. Studies show that businesses in Europe that use digital technology grow 2 – 3 times faster than those who don’t; and small businesses in the UK alone could create nearly £20 billion in incremental revenue if they improved their digital usage.
That being said, old habits do die hard. There are a lot of fears associated with starting to use cloud technology, and there are also a lot of misunderstandings about what the transition actually involves. But the with benefits being so clear — not to mention big changes like the government’s Making Tax Digital initiative, which is going to require businesses to go digital — it’s becoming more and more of a disadvantage not to be on the cloud.
So if you’re one of the many small business owners in the UK who’s still holding out on joining the cloud, here are five benefits that just might change your mind.
1. Using cloud technology greatly reduces your chances of errors, lost files, and “Oh hang on, that ended up in my spam folder” moments.
The reduction in risk that comes with using cloud technology is hard to overstate. Whether it’s the little things, like lost files, emails that slip through the cracks, or time lost when someone ends up working off of an older version of a project because they don’t realise there’s a new one available, or bigger things like system crashes, the cloud’s got it covered.
While technology is, of course, still just a tool, having all your files and ongoing work stored in once place and continually backed up can mean the difference between a project going smoothly and being a total nightmare.
2. Cloud technology allows for greater efficiency.
One of the biggest bottlenecks to work getting done is having to wait on data or files to move from one person to another, but when everything is stored in a centralised location, constantly updated to the latest version, this problem becomes largely a thing of the past. Similarly, cloud-based programmes make it easier for you as the manager or business owner to keep track of what everyone’s doing at any given time, and even assign work instantly and remotely as needs arise.
3. While it does require a transition, using cloud technology is typically cheaper.
Many small business owners who prefer the older ways of working cite the time and money it takes to transition to cloud-based programmes as one of the reasons they haven’t done it so far. The truth is, it does take a bit of a transition to go cloud-based — but it’s almost never as arduous as many assume. And most cloud-based systems are actually cheaper than others, particularly if you consider what they cost over time. While many do have an ongoing monthly or yearly cost, it’s typically much cheaper than having to buy a new system whenever the industry-standard software updates.
4. Cloud-based software allows for easy, safe collaboration with those outside the business.
Some larger businesses can get away with keeping nearly everything in-house, but that’s simply not realistic for a SME. You need to have people from outside the business collaborating on everything from accounting to marketing to sales, which means that you need to be able to quickly and easily share information with them. Using cloud-based programmes allows you to give user-specific access to data as and when it’s required. Plus, it makes it very easy to remove that access when the job’s done, dramatically increasing your business’s security.
5. And just in case you’re not convinced yet … using cloud-based software is going to make being compliant with MTD much, much easier.
While the timing of the MTD initiative is still very much up in the air, it is coming down the pipeline, and small businesses are going to have to go digital with their accounting to remain compliant. While it’s possible to do your accounting digitally without using cloud software, it’s much more convenient (not to mention safer and easier) to do it using a cloud-based programme. So why not make the switch now, while there’s still plenty of time to get used to doing things the new way?