By 2020, 80 percent of U.S. small businesses will be using cloud computing. If that statistic didn’t have you grabbing for the phone to call your IT person, you’re probably doing something right. Entrepreneurs agree.

If you’re a startup, begin in the cloud. If you’re already established on local hardware, there are significant advantages to transitioning to the cloud. Just learn the best way to leverage cloud efficiencies and cost savings. Training and cloud courses are available to guide small businesses through the process.  

One-size-fits-all

Whether startup or established, the cloud helps small businesses compete with bigger competitors. Using plug-and-play solutions for operational activities like payroll, accounting, performance management, HR, even marketing, can help get a small business get up and running flexibly at a percentage of the cost of those systems just a few years ago.

"With the cloud, a company doesn’t have to suffer from guessing wrong. They can scale up as needed to accommodate growth and scale down if that growth falls off or a planned program doesn’t succeed."

Small companies can look and perform like big ones by using web services that allow them to build capable, scalable websites with full transactional functionality and security. Using readily available cloud-based applications for e-mail, sales software, and other services gives small businesses functionality they might have had to wait to employ in the past.

Armed with these kinds of available tools, cloud computing supplies the capabilities that are the very heart of small business—the ability to set up effective, seamless, mobile offices and to allow collaboration across long distances, often with employees or consultants bringing their own devices. These reasons alone should inspire an immediate move to the cloud.

What you get

Whenever small businesses talk about moving to cloud computing, the biggest advantages cited are cost savings and flexibility. In fact, these two benefits are greatly intertwined. Obviously, moving to the cloud reduces a company’s initial investment in hardware. Not quite as obviously, it also reduces IT costs and energy costs.

But where the big savings come in is when you factor in flexibility. In the past, companies had to guess what hardware capabilities they would need in the immediate future without bankrupting themselves at the outset. They could seldom invest in state-of-the-art features due to costs. With the cloud, a company doesn’t have to suffer from guessing wrong. They can scale up as needed to accommodate growth and scale down if that growth falls off or a planned program doesn’t succeed.

Interestingly, the other big advantage to the cloud for small business is security—the very factor that some companies cite as the main barrier to adopting cloud. In fact, few companies can afford to invest in the level of security that cloud providers must employ. The many types of hacks directed at cloud services are often the very things that make them stronger. Still, evaluate cloud service providers carefully, based on their encryption and other security capabilities.

Cloud is here to stay and, as these few facts demonstrate, is even more the technology of small business than it is of large companies.