Finding the right software to make your business more efficient is not always easy. After countless hours of research, I’ve discovered the four essential apps I use to run my business. And I want to share them with you! From email, calendars, customer databases, and accounting, I list my favorites.
Note from Eric: Below, you will find a word-for-word transcript of this video. I provide this as an aid for the hearing-impaired and for those who might just want to read it rather than watch the video. This conversational style is not reflective of how I write. Be nice! Top 4 Cloud Apps to Run Your Business
by Eric Spellmann
Hey I’m Eric Spellmann with EricSpellmann.com. Today we’re going to talk a little bit more about the Cloud. Specifically, the top 4 Cloud Apps or software that you can use to run your business. Remember I’m all about the cloud, and in fact I’ve made other videos about the cloud.
But this one, I’m going to be listing my 4 favourite sites that I use, actual software that I have experience with and I just love them. And because they’re cloud, I don’t have to worry about it. It’s not really software installed on a computer, it just works because I can access it from anywhere. So, let’s jump right into it.
First thing, why cloud. Some of you may not have watched my earlier videos. Why the cloud? Keep in mind the goal always is that you have access to your data everywhere. Remember in this day where it’s so competitive, your most valuable asset is your data. And having access to it on your phone, on your iPad, on any computer you can sit down at, makes you more competitive.
Whenever you data is stuck on your PC, or stuck on a server in your office, that means you have to go there to see it or login remotely and hope that that system doesn’t go down.
Which brings up backups. When you put your data in the cloud, it’s backed up automatically. There are other people in charge of that, more high tech people than you, making sure that your data is available at all times. That way you don’t have to worry about whether you backed up your data today? No you can focus on what your business needs and let other people handle that.
Automatic updates. How many times in the old days did people send you updates on a disk and you had to install these updates. And whenever you called support they said “What version are you on? Oh you’re on 126.96.36.199. Whereas you need to be on 188.8.131.52.” All of that garbage is gone.
You don’t need to worry about that since your applications are stored on the server of the people who built the software. When they find a bug, they fix it once and it’s fixed immediately for you. And chances are you didn’t even know about it. So I love that part about it.
Rent vs Buy. This is probably the biggest one of all. You know in old days, we would had to spend a huge amount of money upfront to buy it, or even to buy the rights to use the software. Well now with cloud, you’re basically just renting it. So, especially for you just starting your business the cash flow issue is wonderful.
Because you’re just paying a monthly amount and they handle everything for you. Its very budgetable and you don’t have this big upfront expense. So, I like cloud apps because they’re cheaper. I like them because I don’t have to worry about if it’s updated, if it’s the latest version. I like it because it’s backed up automatically. But the biggest reason I like going cloud, is because I can access my data anywhere, on any device.
So let’s jump right into it. What’s my first app. Well, some of you may have guessed this. My first one is Google Apps.
Guys, I love Google Apps. Google Apps, for those of you who don’t know is mainly email (Gmail). But it uses your domain name (ericspellmann.com in my case). I check my ericspellmann.com email by going to Google, because it’s hosted by them. It looks like Gmail, but it’s amazing.
And it’s not just about email, it’s also calendar. I have shared calendars. Google Apps is wonderful, it comes with shared calendars. My employees can see my calendar because I gave them permission to see it, but some of them can actually put appointments on my calendar and when they do so, the second they do it, it’s also on my iPhone.
In other words, I don’t have to sync it to something to see that, the second they put an appointment on my calendar, I can pull it up and it’s already there. So shared calendars are wonderful. At any point, I can look at any of my employees and see what appointments they have made for me. It is wonderful.
I love shared calendars and I also love email. The email is wonderful too because Google gives you 25 Gigabytes (GB) of storage per user, which basically means you never have to delete email. And I have it; I’ve got 10 years of email and I’m only using up about 40% of my total storage with Google. So I love it. I can search through all of that email within seconds. For one keyword, from tens of thousands of email I can search for one keyword in half a second. It goes at Google speed.
But also there’s Docs and Drive which are thrown in for free. Docs are basically Google’s answer to Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel. So you can work online and work on these documents and not have to have that software that you usually buy from Microsoft, installed on your computer! You just login and it’s there, you can work on your documents. Google Drive is for those documents that are on your computer. Think of Google Drive as Google’s version of Dropbox. And for those who don’t know what Dropbox is, when you install this program on your computer it creates a special folder on your computer.
Any file you drop into this folder, let’s say a Microsoft Word file or an Excel file or a picture or anything, will automatically be copied up to the cloud and stored securely and safely. Think of it as a backup. That way if your laptop or your pc just dies a painful death, you’ve got automatic backups! And whenever you go into that folder and work on a Microsoft Word document and hit save, the second you hit save, it’s automatically sent back up there and that version is saved. And it will store multiple versions.
In addition, if you go to another computer like I have a computer here at the office and another at my home. And I have Google Drive installed on both of them. When I change a single file on my computer here at work, it will automatically synchronize this computer with the one at my home. So no matter where I go, the files are always up to date and I don’t have to carry around a little flash drive all the time. So I love it. That’s Google Apps.
You can find out more about Google Apps by going to “googleapps.com”. Or you can give me a call. Spellmann & Associates is an authorized Google Apps reseller. So if you have any questions let us know. I’ve been using it for years and I love it and I would never go back.
My number 2 cloud app that I just love to use is called Insightly. Now Insightly is what we call a CRM. A Customer Relationship Management Program. What that means is this is where I store all of my customers’ information. For instance it could be contact information, all the notes that we make every time we meet with the client.
Any files that we have to keep up with. Think of it as my big filing cabinet on my customers, except it’s online. And of course, they have an app that I have installed on my iPhone and I can pull up all that information wherever I happen to be, or my iPad. So it is wonderful. The reason I like it is because I can access it anywhere.
Whenever I go to a client’s place, I can immediately have all the notes, all the interactions I’ve ever had with them while I am sitting in their office! I don’t have to take a file folder with me and work with it that way, No! And also, my employees can have their own notes and I can see those notes too.
One of the things I really like about it is that this particular cloud app ties directly with Google Apps. So I might be in my email with Google Apps, and I get an email from a client. There is a button in my email that I click and it automatically attaches the email to the record in Insightly! So from now on I can see any customer’s emails right there and it’s all held together in one place. It’s wonderful. You can find out more about it by going to Insightly.com.
The third cloud app that I like, and I’ve been using this for over 5 years is QuickBooks Online. Now some of you must be wondering why am I using QuickBooks. Well I have been using the online version. A lot of you are using the version of QuickBooks that you’ve bought shrink wrapped at Sam’s or Best Buy and you installed it on your computer and now you have to install those updates and download new tax tables etc.
Not in my case. I love it, it’s basically online accounting. All my company’s books are in QuickBooks Online. And the neat thing about it is that I don’t have to worry about licenses. For some of you who have a multi-user version of QuickBooks, you realize that you install it and you buy licenses from people into it, the people who make QuickBooks. And so you install it on some computers and then you run out of licenses.
You don’t have to do that with QuickBooks Online. You just have to specify how many users you’re going to have working simultaneously and the cool part is, you don’t have to install this software on any computer. I can access my QuickBooks at home, at my office or even from a hotel computer! It doesn’t matter. All that is required is internet access, because it’s a webpage.
And they handle all the updates, they handle all the tax tables, they handle all of that. I just use it and I print out wonderful looking invoices, I can check my books from anywhere. And yes I can even check it from my iPhone. I love this thing. Basically you can find out more about it by going to “qboe.com” which is short for QuickBooks Online Edition.
The fourth one is CARBONITE. It is a wonderful package, basically its online backup. Now some of you must be saying that’s a program you install. I know, but basically your data is then backed up into the cloud. And that’s what carbonite does. And they’re very cheap.
For PCs it’s a very small amount of money. And then for a business server, it’s a little bit larger but it backs up everything including databases. You can find out more about it at carbonite.com. I like it because it just works and it’s easy. You buy it; install it and forget about it. Now this doesn’t mean that you don’t need to be doing local backups. I’ve always been a fan of dual backups. So do an off-site backup and an on-site backup.
And the on-site backup could be copying to a hard drive or a thumb drive or something like that. This way if your sever burns up, if our whole office god forbid burns up, your data is safe off-site. It is wonderful.
Well there’s obviously lots of different cloud apps out there but those are the four big ones that I use on a regular basis. And I could not run my company without them. So, give it a try. If you have any questions about it let me know.
Like I said, this isn’t something I just read a book about; I’ve been using these programs for a long time. And they allow me to run efficiently, to plan my budget, and to have access to my information wherever I need it. I’m Eric Spellmann with EricSpellmann.com. I’ll see you in cyberspace.