(BPT) - 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.
For these reasons, 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 your 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. “I had no hesitations moving Naturally Me to the cloud because it’s from Microsoft, so it felt safe and secure.” The company also collaborates on documents by using Microsoft SharePoint Online, and sales consultants use it to support their sales efforts. “They don’t have to print out paper catalogs anymore. Instead, they bring a portable computer and use SharePoint Online to present our products to party guests.”
Kevin Lisota, CEO and co-founder of findwell, a real estate startup in Seattle, makes comprehensive use of Microsoft Exchange Online for its shared calendars, support for multiple email boxes and mobile messaging. “Our agents need to be able to send and receive email on all sorts of devices from anywhere they happen to be,” Lisota says. “The sync capabilities of Exchange Online mean that I can easily enable my employees to get email on all their phones and computers from any Web browser.”
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 tools available with a service like Office 365 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 with Office 365, which makes everything easy to set up and use at an affordable price.”
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. A cloud-powered small business is more nimble and prepares you to adapt to changing business needs - now and in the future. To help get your business on track for 2013, 90-day free trials of Office 365 are available through the end of February.