Whatever business you’re running, your IT solutions are likely to be crucial to your success. IT has transformed the way we work beyond all recognition in the last twenty years and, for anybody who can remember those dark days prior to the internet; the changes are nothing less than miraculous. The last few years have seen many more advances in technology that have made running a business easier and more accessible than at any time in the past. Cloud computing solutions, in particular, have created access to simple solutions for businesses and it’s no surprise that Google is at the forefront of supplying simple, often free, cloud solutions that make running a business child’s play.
Online email solutions have been with us for a long time, and they are a more familiar aspect of cloud computing which most people will be familiar with. Hotmail and Gmail (the latter from Google) are the best known versions. Back in the dark ages, we had to manage with (at best) a grumpy fax machine or (at worst) an actual letter. There was no telling if either form of pre-historic communication tool had actually got where it was supposed to and for those doing international business it could take weeks to find out. Gmail offers the advantages of a professional email address, with online storage and an offline functionality to allow you to continue working wherever you are. You can communicate across the globe with Gmail within an instant and know immediately that your email has got to the recipient within seconds.
In those positively archaic days, pre-internet managing your company diary needed at least a PA and often an admin assistant as well. That was just to manage one calendar and finding out who was where and when or what they were up to could take a sizable portion out of your day. With Google’s calendar function you can manage your own diary online, and different employees’ calendars can be shared to allow easy meeting set ups and check who is where, at any time. Easy to sync across all of your devices the days of the PA are definitely numbered. You can also share a version on the web to allow for clients and colleagues to make appointments when you’re actually available. All of this is barely a click away with Google’s calendar service and for the small business it makes time management a possibility and not an un-ending nightmare.
I trained to type in the dying era of the carbon copy. All I can say is “ugh”. If you’re lucky enough (and young enough) to have no idea what I’m talking about then this should give you a sleepless night. In those days, if you wanted more than one copy of a document you inserted sheets of carbon between each page and typed on to the top copy. Everything was duplicated, including all of your typos and errors. These inevitable mistakes meant removing each sheet, and the errors had to be erased by hand. That, however, was the easy bit; replacing each sheet, properly aligned, is why secretaries relied on Tipex, Valium and never actually had time for affairs with the boss. They were evil times, in which collaborative working meant having people standing around you and telling you what to type. If they changed their minds half way through, you could use this fact in defense at the murder trial. Google Docs is like a gift from the gods; you can work with any number of people on a document at any time and from multiple locations. The documents are backed up and stored safely online and any authorized user can add, change or amend the document at will, while changes are tracked for all to see.
Running a business used to be a risky affair that required a cast of thousands; today, thanks to Google tools for business it’s possible to manage a firm truly single-handedly.