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CLOUD COMPUTING

How to Work in the Cloud

Want to manage your business any time, any place? Making it happen shouldn't take too much effort.

Google’s recent update of its spreadsheets program is yet another sign that we’re moving towards a completely virtual work environment. The idea of saving things on your hard drive will become obsolete due to so many Cloud-based options. But storage is only a part of that shift. 

With a bit of savvy and a small investment, you can manage your entire business any where, any time. But first, how virtual are you? Do you meet with clients only to realize you're missing a key piece of data? Do you worry about saving space on your computer? Go into the office to finish work on the weekend?

If so, I'd suggest giving yourself a grade. If you’re a B or above, you’re probably doing OK. But if you’re at a C or D, it’s time to adapt. This isn't because you have try new technology but because there are several advantages. 

First, you’ll no longer be tethered to your office all the time. Second, you’ll won't need to upgrade systems on a regular basis. Going virtual can also mean significant cost savings. Here are five easy ways to get a great start. 

Manage Customers with Salesforce

This customer relationship management tool lets you keep track of your entire customer base in one place, online. You can easily share files and customer complaints across the company on one virtual platform.

Use Google Drive

Whether you're at the airport and need to write up a presentation or want to take spreadsheets of sales data with you to a meeting, the tools in Google Drive let you do most of the things on your desktop nearly anywhere. 

Store Files in Box or Dropbox

These Cloud-based data storage applications offer lots of space for free. And if you need more, it’s likely cheaper than physical storage. Plus, you’ll never lose your data in a fire or a flood.

Use an Online Payroll Service

This essential function, which once took hours, can now easily be accomplished by phone. Reports and paystubs are stored in the Cloud, so you'll never worry about not paying employees just because you're not in the office. 

Do Accounting Online

“Doing your books” should be a metaphorical term these days. With online accounting, no software is required and invoices, expenses, and income statements are always on hand (and easily accessible) for your accountant. Apps like these are plentiful and it’s remarkable how cheap they've become.

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Last updated: Dec 24, 2013

MICHAEL ALTER | Columnist | President of SurePayroll

Michael Alter is president of SurePayroll, America?s leading online payroll service. He received an MBA from the Harvard Business School and holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Northwestern University.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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