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Recently, I submitted an article to Upstart Business Journal about how cloud services enable smaller businesses to access enterprise-level features previously available only to larger corporations. As a result, SMBs can project a more professional image. Below is the article in its entirety. Many thanks to Upstart Business Journal for publishing.

One of the largest reasons that small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) are turning to cloud-based solutions is because it’s one way to make themselves look big.

Enterprise-level features that as recently as a decade ago were only available to the largest companies can make it easier for SMBs to engage with customers, communicate with vendors, and track sales and inventory. And, by granting access to features that were once exclusive to corporations, they help give even the tiniest firm’s project a more professional image (and give both partners and customers the impression of scale).

Don’t take my word for it, though, just look at the numbers. A recent Microsoft study demonstrates just how pervasive cloud services adoption is among SMBs. By 2015, Microsoft learned, the number of 10-person-or-smaller firms using the cloud is expected to triple, while the number of businesses with 11 to 25 staffers relying on the cloud will likely double.

In some cases, SMBs are even pulling ahead of larger enterprises with the help of cloud-based applications. The scalability and flexibility of cloud services mean that they pair well with small, agile businesses. Amazon chief technology officer Werner Vogels observed recently that cloud technology is helping SMBs gain an edge in the fast-growing analytics market.

Younger businesses, Vogels said at a recent conference, “are using big data much more rapidly at the core of their businesses to continuously improve their services, and enterprises are the ones who are having to catch up.”

Vogels’ quotation hints at the real value of the cloud to small companies: the fact that it can enable fast reaction times and quick pivots. If your business were to double in size in the next few months, could the platforms you currently have in place support that growth? With old-school technology, like the on-premise phone systems that my company is helping to replace, the answer is probably no. But with cloud-based solutions, you can scale up at little more than a moment’s notice.

Technology that grows with your firm: Sounds pretty good, right? That’s what the cloud promises. But, again, don’t take my word for it. Take a look at the growing popularity of cloud-based applications like Salesforce (for customer relations management), Dropbox or Box (for file sharing), and Amazon Web Services (for hosting and computing services). Hundreds of other cloud companies are helping SMBs become more agile, responsive, and cost-conscious too.

In business, impressions matter, and more and more business owners are turning to cloud-based services to both meet their clients’ needs and project seriousness of purpose to anyone they do business with.