How Cloud Technology Makes Growing Your Home Business Easier
Last year, 23 percent of employed U.S. workers did some or all of their work from home, representing nearly one quarter of the American population, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. About one in four remote workers are female, a Flex+Strategy Group survey found, and approximately the same percentage of women say they get most of their work done from home.
Meanwhile, more women than ever are starting their own businesses, with the number of female-owned firms increasing 68 percent since 2007, according to an American Express OPEN report. Taken together, these two trends help explain the growing number of moms who work at home.
A third factor fueling this trend is the cloud, which makes it easier than ever for moms to earn money from the comfort and privacy of their homes. If you’re working from home or running a home-based business, adopting cloud-based technologies can increase your efficiency and reduce your stress while saving you money.
Mobility and Flexibility
One way the cloud empowers your business is letting you move your office anywhere, says Luke Connoley of workplace innovation provider Unwork. In the days of desktops, a business computer had to reside at a single location in the workplace or in a home office, physically connected to the local network. With the cloud, you can work from anywhere you can bring a mobile device. You now have the flexibility of working from your home office, your living room, your dining room table, the local coffee shop or even the park where your kids play. You can work from anywhere and on any schedule that fits your needs.
The cloud’s mobile flexibility also makes it easier for you to collaborate remotely with other members of your team, no matter where they are. Instead of you having to share software on an office computer network in a single physical location, now any of your team members with a mobile device can access your company’s network and software services from anywhere in the world. For instance, Google Docs provides you with a full range of cloud-based business communication and collaboration tools, including email, video conferencing, calendar scheduling, document creation, file sharing and online storage.
The cloud provides small home-based businesses with superior backup services. Cloud backup services such as Mozy let you schedule periodic automatic backups, so you don’t have to worry about losing important files. You can also sync your backup to cover all of your devices and ensure that the latest versions of your files are always available throughout your network.
Global Customer Reach
The cloud lets you expand your company’s outreach beyond local prospects and customers to reach and interact with people anywhere in the world. For instance, in 2014, the country with the most Facebook users after the United States was India, followed by Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico and the United Kingdom. By using Facebook as a cloud marketing platform, you can efficiently promote your product or service to customers in any of these countries. The same applies to other popular social media sites that reside in the cloud, such as YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest.
Cloud tools, such as the Amazon Web Services platform, also let you deliver digital products, such as infoproducts, e-books, webinars and apps, to customers in any location. And when you need to field customer service inquiries, you can interact with your customers using cloud contact centers, live chat and Skype.
The bottom-line advantage of the cloud for home-based businesses is that it makes enterprise-quality hosting, software and data services affordable. Instead of paying premium prices for hardware equipment and software licenses, the cloud provides you with computer services scaled to your budget. For instance, for $5 a month, a small business can have its own virtual cloud server. For $5 per user per month, small businesses can use Office 365. For less than $120 a year, users can store 1 TB of data on Google Drive, or they can use Amazon Cloud Drive Unlimited for about $60 a year.