published Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Small businesses use cloud to grow


Small businesses seem optimistic about increasing sales and hiring in 2013 and are looking to squeeze more productivity out of limited time, staffing and resources.

Finding the right business tools that can grow with you but also work well with the tools you already use are essential to helping your business focus on what you do best — serving customers.

Having the right tools — such as business-class email, online meetings, remote access to documents, shared calendars and shared contacts — to create, collaborate, connect and help manage day-to-day tasks can help cut costs and increase productivity.

Naturally Me, a small company in Durham, N.C., that makes natural beauty products, uses Microsoft Office 365 to hold regular-Web conferences. “I downloaded the trial version and fell in love,” says Chaundra Smith, founder of Naturally Me.

Kevin Lisota, CEO and co-founder of Findwell, a real estate startup in Seattle, makes comprehensive use of online shared calendars, support for multiple email boxes and mobile messaging.

Imagination Yoga, a small, family-owned business in Portland, Ore., teaches a “kindness-based” curriculum instructing children on yoga concepts and storytelling to spark their creativity and get them exercising. “Like most small businesses, we thought that the cloud tools available would be outrageously expensive and impossible for us to attain on our own,” says Jon Hopkins, co-founder of Imagination Yoga. “But that’s definitely not the case.”

Having the right tools to improve communication and collaboration can make even the most challenging things, such as increasing that bottom line, seem more manageable.

— ARAContent

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