When you hear about “the cloud,” you probably associate the phrase with attributes like “high tech,” “feature rich,” “mobile,” etc. What you might not realize is that “the cloud” can save you a lot of money. Businesses that provide cloud-based services manage all the software and hardware required to deliver those services in centralized locations, allowing them to operate much more efficiently and cost-effectively. Fortunately for us, they usually pass on much of these savings to their customers. These three services will not only save you time, but they’ll also save you money!
1) Cloud based fax services (save approx. $20+/ month compared to traditional fax)
Cloud fax services (more commonly known as online fax services) have been around since the 1980’s and have become increasingly popular in the last decade. When you sign up for an online fax service, you receive a dedicated fax number through which you can receive and send faxes using your email. Many of these services offer plans that cost less than $10/ month for 500+ pages of faxing per month. Purchasing a dedicated fax number from your local phone provider will cost about $30/ month, and you will also have to purchase a fax machine, ink, paper, etc. in order to receive faxes. This is an absolute no-brainer for the vast majority of businesses. Example: RingCentral Fax
2) Cloud based phone systems (save approx. $20/ line per month, $50/ phone, and $250+ for phone system hardware)
Cloud phone systems (also known as business VoIP phone systems) have all the capabilities of traditional, full-featured business phone systems, but they don’t require lines from the phone company or any special hardware at your office. When you sign up with a cloud phone system provider, you will typically pay around $30/ line per month and $150/ phone. Phone companies typically charge $50/ business line per month and $200/ phone (these are specialized phones designed to work with business phone systems), and you will also have to pay for, install and maintain a phone system at your office, which will cost you at least $250. In fact, at that price, you will only be getting a bare bones phone system with only a fraction of the features offered by every cloud phone system. The cloud services work with your existing, high-speed internet connection and don’t require any additional hardware. The phones arrive in the mail preconfigured, and you manage all your settings through an online interface. Example: RingCentral Office
If you really want to save money on your phone costs, and you don’t mind using your mobile phone instead of a desk phone, you might consider using a virtual PBX service. These services provide you with all the same features of a business phone system, like an auto-attendant, corporate voicemail, call transferring, etc., but they work on your existing phones and prices start at $10/ month. Example: RingCentral Professional
3) Cloud based file hosting services (pay approx. $15/ user per month for unlimited storage in the cloud versus $2,000 for a local server)
File hosting services provide you with all the benefits of having a physical server at your office without having to purchase any hardware. A traditional, small business office server costs around $2,000 and typically requires an IT specialist to help with configuration and maintenance. Over three years, a file hosting service will likely cost more than the price of the server hardware alone, but maintenance and backup costs for the server will likely make up the difference. Furthermore, file hosting services offer unlimited scalability, where a physical server will eventually have to be replaced. While the long term savings of file hosting services are debatable, the short term cash flow benefit and the simplicity of file hosting services make them very attractive to small businesses. Example: Dropbox
Guest author Leo Welder is the Founder and CEO of Zilker Ventures, LLC, which manages a group of business-to-business technology information sites including FindAFax.com. He is an expert in cloud based business services and entrepreneurship.