All across the United States, businesses are closing their doors permanently. In Rural America, this has never been more true. With the rising cost of, well… everything… being able to reduce costs of daily operations while simultaneously increasing visibility may be the break that many small businesses desperately need. This article aims to describe how you can accomplish this by migrating certain services to the cloud.
Saying “the Cloud” is actually quite vague. The cloud refers to software and services that run on the Internet, instead of computers in your business or home. Cloud providers, such as Linode, manage these servers. Managed Service Providers or Cloud Integrators, such as Shorey IT, manage the integration to these servers as well as managing the services they provide. This allows you, the business owner, to focus on your business.
There’s a catch though, as there usually is. These services can be expensive. Not an “$8 coffee” expensive… more like an “$80,000 SUV” expensive.
So then if these services are so expensive, how could a small business, let alone a failing small business, possibly benefit from it?
The first thing you need to understand is that the way that most Managed Service Providers (MSPs) or Cloud Integrators make their money is by charging high markups and locking people into contracts. It’s easy to sell someone a “complete package” when they don’t understand what cloud computing really is! This also gives the MSP/Cloud Integrator a lot of control over pricing.
The next important thing to keep in mind is that cloud technology doesn’t need to be expensive. Cloud technology is highly scalable, allowing businesses to only pay for the resources they actually need, instead of paying high costs upfront to reserve all the resources they could need.
One of the biggest appeals to cloud computing is the ability to quickly scale resources, horizontally and vertically, and without investing in expensive hardware that would otherwise need to be maintained on-site. At the click of a button, you can have 100 servers deployed in minutes.
Scalability also allows the business to reduce the amount of resources they are paying for during times of low traffic, drastically reducing their hosting costs. And with newer technologies such as Kubernetes, the scaling process can be automated.
Managing servers can be, and usually is, a full-time job. In larger companies, entire departments are dedicated to managing servers. There are many things that a datacenter needs to do to maintain their equipment, including the building itself. Triple-redundant air conditioning, Uninterrupted Power Supplies, Electronics-friendly fire suppression systems, and humidity monitoring systems are some of the essentials any datacenter needs to apply. This is in addition to running backups, replacing failing equipment, running updates, and programming new changes. Cloud providers like Linode handle all of this for their clients.
By offloading services to the cloud, you no longer have to worry about power outages or other unexpected emergencies interrupting your customer’s ability to find you online. And by introducing functions such as load balancing, you can add additional redundancy while increasing performance.
Load balancing is a service that distributes traffic evenly across two or more servers. This reduces the overall load on each server, increasing performance. Load balancing also allows you to redirect traffic to a different server in case one goes down, or needs to be brought offline for updates, all with the click of a button.
Having an online presence increases any business’s visibility to potential customers. With a well developed website and effective Search Engine Optimization, the potential customer is more likely to see your business before hearing about your competitors. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to the process of optimizing your website to the rules of search engines, in turn increasing your chances of showing up higher on search results. Implementing SEO is essential for increasing visibility on search engines, but having a website alone often improves visibility across the board. With a central point of contact and a single place to obtain up-to-date information, there is more effective communication between the business and the customer. Additionally, word of mouth referrals are more quickly converted with a mobile friendly website since the customer can access information from anywhere there is internet.
Social media is often used in place of websites in order to reduce costs, but it is also an effective marketing tool. Having a website does not mean you need to stop using social media. A well designed website includes integrations with social media, giving you larger control over your online appearance. Consider syncing your business’s social media posts to your website’s blog posts and vice versa. Use social media to reach your target market and use the cloud to expand your target market and generate leads.
Using cloud technology can help you automate workflows within your business. For example, instead of manually writing a customer’s order down over the phone, you can direct the customer to a website with the latest menu and prices. Once they place the order, you receive it on your end as well as automatically adjusting inventory levels, updating transactional records, and charging the payment method. All this happens with zero intervention, meaning the time you would spend explaining tap-to-pay could now be used for writing a social media post for your business.
Create an Identity
Over time, as you gain more traffic to your cloud infrastructure and thereby your business, you will be able to build not only your brand, but an entire Identity. You can control everything from the colors of your navigation bar on your website to the success message that gets displayed after a successful order. Custom forms, responsive content, and overall uniqueness will make you stand out from the crowd and gain the attention of potential customers.
Shorey IT wants to help you do this. We’ve changed the way that cloud integration can happen, giving the same tools as enterprises to small businesses and startups. With granular control over what you pay for, as well as a dedicated expert to talk through all the details with, we can give you an unparalleled experience at an unparalleled price. Cloud computing doesn’t need to be expensive, and it can even save a failing business. Let us show you how and contact an expert below!