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Structure Your Business For Growth

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By Townes Haas   |    October 2, 2013   |    12:35 PM

A common mistake that business owners make today is under or over-estimating the growth or slowing of their businesses. How big of an office should we lease? Do we need our own email and file-sharing server?

You might think that having to downsize your business is the worst that could happen, but what if you just hired ten new employees and realized that your new company server isn’t designed to handle that level of traffic?

Business success today is all about fluidity and scalability. And as technology plays a larger role in making it easier to run a business, owners need to know what is available to make sure they are poised for success and prepared for bumps in the road.

First, there are two key terms that businesses should get comfortable with, as they can offer the biggest benefit – a significant cost savings – to business owners.

Cloud Computing: You’ve no doubt heard the hype around cloud computing by now. It offers the benefits of powerful hardware and software (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) without ever physically seeing it. Large servers are housed in data centers and connected to you through an Internet connection.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): SaaS is a type of cloud computing. You can think of SaaS as a gym membership. You purchase the membership and are given access to all of the equipment and space, but never have to own any of it outright. When you stop paying, you aren’t allowed access anymore.

So what do cloud computing and SaaS mean to business owners? More than you might think. The services they enable make can make a small business feel like they have the infrastructure of a large corporation without making huge investments in support staff and equipment.

So what services make sense to adopt?

Email. Google Apps for Business is a prime example of an excellent use of the SaaS model. Using Google Apps for Business, and more specifically, the Gmail platform, gives businesses the flexibility for quick and easy growth. When you work with a service like Google Apps or the Microsoft Office 365 platform, you pay a yearly, per user, fee and have the flexibility to add and remove users quickly and seamlessly. Everything is bundled together including online storage, email, calendaring, etc.

File Sharing. Although email has been a critical business communication tool for many years, it has some weaknesses, such as workflow, security and file size convenience. Those concerns can now be addressed by turning to file-sharing servers that allow access to the same files while in the office and the use of a VPN to access those files outside of the office. The equipment needed to host your own files and access outside of the office can be expensive and not always reliable. But new services like Box and Dropbox alleviate these issues by storing your files in secure data centers. Business owners can have all the protection of the latest security, the ability to control access down to specific folders, and the ease of adding new users at the click of a button.

For businesses, the ability to prepare for and adapt to changes is often the difference between success and failure, and these tools offer them a simple solution that makes a big difference. In today’s business landscape, it’s increasingly crucial to stay informed about the tools and services available to help make any change or transition as seamless as possible.

So tell us… what services, products or tools would you add to this list?

Tweet us at @IntelligentOfc and weigh in.

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