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Happy reading!  How is your summer going?  Do you shut down your business for a few days so everyone can take a little vacation?  Or perhaps your business is at its height during the summer so your doors are opened 7 days a week?

 

No matter the business you are in; are your products and/or services priced right?  I referenced an article not too long ago on pricing and here’s a new one

 

I know in this blog we’ve talked about cloud computing or cloud services – how it can help your business.  Check out this article by InformationWeek SMB that focuses on how one company is leveraging cloud computing to run its business better.

 

If you are looking for a money, check out this video which gives you some tips to better position yourself and your company for a loan.

 

Click here for a shortlist of online resources that can help your business… also check out this site from Alltop -- it has quite an extensive list of online magazines and blogs that focus on topics relevant to SMBs.

 

Do you want more business?  Check out our next free webinar with Anita Campbell, she’ll give tips on how you can market on a shoestring.  Click here (or go to http://bit.ly/pUmHUT) to register.

 

This month, our featured author is Jennifer Prosek, who will share tips on how to motivate your employees – turn them into entrepreneurs.  We’ll be giving away copies of her book all this month so read our blog, follow us on Twitter or fan us on Facebook for more information.

 

Have a great weekend!

The following is a guest blog from Anita Campbell, founder and CEO of Small Business Trends, an online resource for small businesses. 

 

 

As mentioned in an earlier post here at the Verizon Small Biz Blog, I am seeing more and more small businesses and entrepreneurs jumping on the “cloud bandwagon.”  They are moving to online software, instead of software installed on local servers or desktop computers, because of certain advantages.  Those advantages include: speed of implementation; ability to scale the business despite lacking internal tech expertise; lower costs; relief from tech headaches enabling you to concentrate on strategy and core competencies; and, arguably, fewer security issues you have to worry about.

 

We explored those advantages in my last webinar on March 9th, In the Cloud:  5 Reasons to Move to Online Software (watch the webinar here).  In that webinar I polled those participating and learned that roughly 80% are already using cloud apps in the form of online banking. 

 

One person asked me about popular online software services that I recommend – here are some online services that I know other small businesses are getting good value from today:

 

Accounting/bookkeeping software:  Outright.com or Quickbooks Online

 

Invoicing/payment services:  PayPal.com;  Freshbooks.com; or  Blinksale.com

 

Email marketing services:  VerticalResponse.comMailChimp.com; or  ConstantContact.com.

 

This list is just a small smattering.  Edith Yeung, Founder of BizTech Day, where they profile new software, was kind enough to choose some of the best in class for us, in: 101 Small Business Web Applications You Must Check Out.  I also recommend you check out The Small Business Web for a directory of several hundred small business online software apps.

 

Now, despite being a proponent of online software services, I don’t want to give the impression that there are no risks or issues to consider.  The advantages of online software applications only apply if you make wise choices. If you make the wrong choices, those advantages may go out the window. Remember, you will have to place your trust in vendors to make sure the software is operational and does what it claims to do.  Your data will be online in a third party’s hands.  And, if something goes wrong with the software, you need confidence that the vendor will jump on the problem quickly and get it fixed to your satisfaction. 

 

So it becomes crucial to do a thorough due diligence when choosing online software.  This due diligence process for choosing online software is what we will cover in my next upcoming webinar presented by the Verizon Small Business Center.

 

In How to Choose the RIGHT online software webinar, I’ll offer a checklist of points to consider when evaluating online software, including how to assess vendors for reliability, and how to determine which software will actually make your organization more efficient and effective.  I’ll also answer your questions about the practical aspects of integrating online software with existing internal systems and software.

 

Online software services aren’t a cure-all for everything that may ail your business.  But they are a valuable technology strategy for growing your business while running “lean.” 

 

Choose the wrong technology and you’ll find your business working on your technology.  Choose the right technology, and it will work FOR your business.

 

Join me this Wednesday March 23 at 2pm Eastern for: How to Choose the RIGHT Online Software.

 

PS, if you can’t make the live webinar, watch the replay it will be taped and archived – just view it later.

 

 

 

The following is a guest blog from Anita Campbell, founder and CEO of Small Business Trends, an online resource for small businesses. 

 

 

Some of the smartest small business owners and managers I know are jumping on the “cloud bandwagon.”  What I mean is, they are improving their business operations by using online software services. 

 

Online software services are exactly what they sound like.  They are software programs that you use online, by connecting to the Internet and logging in to the software using your Web browser.  They’re called services because the company providing the software provides them as a service.  This means they not only give you the use of the software, but they store and safeguard any data you use in the software program. The software company handles everything, soup to nuts:  keeping the software running; fixing bugs; managing databases; preventing intrusions and data breaches; enhancing and updating the software.

 

In exchange for this service, your company typically pays a monthly fee. Sometimes you pay an annual fee.  Some software services may even be free. 

 

Think about the obvious impact: your firm needs fewer computing resources.  All you need to use an online software service is a computer with an Internet connection.  Even an inexpensive netbook computer is sufficient (I know – I’ve used online software programs with just my $399, 2-lb netbook!).  You don’t have to invest in hefty up-front licenses, powerful servers to run the software and handle the data, support personnel to keep the servers running, and all the other expenses associated with in-house computing.  A laptop or desktop computer for any staff who use the software, is enough.

 

You often hear lingo to describe these services in one form or another.  Software as a service or its acronym, SaaS.  Cloud computing.  Software in the cloud.  Application service provider or its acronym ASP.  The list goes on.

 

I say, ignore the lingo.  Focus instead on the benefits of these online software services.  And there are quite a few.  I’d go so far as to say that the advantages of using online software are greater for small businesses than for large corporations.  That’s because online software lets your company be “lean.”  When you allow someone else to worry about keeping the software running, you can focus on your business’s core competencies and strategic goals – and not be sidetracked by tech headaches. 

 

You can also scale your business better. You can grow faster without adding as much expense burden and internal systems complexity. When new opportunities arise, you can seize them quickly.  For instance, you can go online and sign up for a software service in minutes or hours – instead of waiting weeks or months to scope out requirements for and install a new software program you may need for servicing more customers.  Using online software, the cost may be spread out monthly, instead of an all-at-once budget hit.

 

But what about security?  You’re probably thinking, “Our customer data and business information now will be on a 3rd party’s computers.”  If you are uncomfortable with that idea, I urge you to consider this:  many small businesses I know just can’t afford the same level of security that a large software company can provide.  As much as we business owners want to keep our data secure, a determined cyber intruder may get in anyway.  A  carefully-chosen software provider’s services may actually be MORE secure than the networks and systems of a small business.  It’s not because small businesses are negligent or don’t care.  It’s just that we smaller firms may not be able to afford the same level of security infrastructure, not to mention the same level of in-house expertise, to make strong security a reality.  

 

In my webinar that I am presenting hosted by the Verizon Small Business Center, we’ll explore the advantages of online software.  I’ll share tips and resources.  You won’t get lingo. You won’t get theory. You’ll get practical advice to make sure you leave the hour equipped to make informed choices for your business.  Make 2011 the year you improve your business operations and seize opportunities -- online software can help make it happen.

 

Join me later today at 2 p.m. Eastern for: In the Cloud:  5 Reasons to Move to Online Software.   So, get your questions ready.

 

PS, if you can’t make the live webinar, it will be archived – just view it later.

 

About Verizon Business Markets
Get news from Verizon about Business Markets services and market trends that affect your bottom line. Here, you'll find tips and commentary from the Verizon Business Markets group and other experts to help keep your business growing.

       




Contact the editor: sandra.j.lee@verizon.com

About the Authors

Sandy Lee

Social Media Lead: Verizon Business Markets

Photo of Sandy Lee

Sandy is a member of Verizon Business Markets marketing team where she leads social media marketing.


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