As a very small business owner and consultant to start-ups, I am constantly reminded that for certain small, simple, businesses it is becoming possible to have just three or four cloud IT vendors help you run an entire business in a pretty sophisticated way.
- You can have a cloud telecom provider (Ring Central, Cbeyond, and many others) or the dreaded B4B from Comcast Business for basic services
- Google docs is easy if you need “Office”-like apps or you can use Microsoft 365
- An accounting package from QuickBooks, Xero, or other cloud providers does the trick on the general ledger
- A vertical-specific application that spans from front-office (sales and marketing) to back office administration rounds out the platform
It’s these latter applications that are still being developed, but are coming together from folks such as:
- DealerTrack for auto dealers
- Clio for small legal offices
- Schedulicity and others for personal services providers
- Eved for destination management companies (Full disclosure, I am on the board at Eved.)
- MindBody for yoga studios, spas and salons
- Too many companies to mention for the gym space and independent hotel space
- Cloud POS systems for restaurants
- Fonteva for associations
At worst, you might need 2 or 3 of these vertical vendors, in some markets, to cover the front office and the back office. Voila small businesses in the cloud.
It takes a little work to make this “small business in the cloud platform” function seamlessly and to fully execute online marketing, but it is becoming easier and easier. There has been a lot of focus in the tech community these days on how much easier it is to start a software company, but this phenomenon is extending to all sorts of other businesses. (Add to this the greater ability for entrepreneurs to get healthcare and it seems the risks and costs of start-ups continue to drop.) It’s great for entrepreneurs, investors, America, the world, and perhaps the galaxy. Okay, I got a little carried away, but is exciting to see how far one can now take a business idea before needing a major investment in IT.