We get it. For cash-strapped entrepreneurs just starting out, squeezing the most out of every penny is critical. We hear this sentiment usually in response to the fact that Kashoo, yes, costs money to use. (Is top-of-the-line accounting software that's accessible from anywhere at anytime worth a few cents more than a single venti caramel macchiato? We'd like to think so, but that's besides the point at the moment.) The point that we're going to make here in this post is that you can get the systems critical to your business' survival up and running with cloud-powered tools for a whole lot less than you think.
Let's break it down by category and determine the total annual cost...
We're going to be brief here because we've already trotted out the Starbucks analogy, but as a small business owner, you can get your accounting software in place for the year for $49.99. Boom. Done. On to the next...
Dropbox gives you 2GB of free storage space for all your files. That's actually a lot, but if you tap out, an entire terabyte is available for $9.99 a month. Annual cost: $119.88.
If you sign a lot of documents, stop it with the download-print-sign-scan-attach-send dance. The Adobe Document Cloud (formerly EchoSign) lets you sign documents—from contacts to estimates to statements of work—from wherever. Plus they're all managed there (though if you want to download and store locally, you can). Pricing starts as low as $14.99 per month. Annual cost: $179.88.
(For those keeping tabs, the annual bill so far for cloud services that can make your business hum is $349.75. Which, by the way, can all be written off as a tax deduction.)
Say you're in Chicago and have a customer prospect in Phoenix. Imagine the cost of traveling to meet with them. Sure, there are certain scenarios where it's going to be worth it, but for the most part, the internet's got you covered. A single license to GoToMeeting is going to run you $39.99 per month. Annual cost: $479.88 (or about as much as a Chicago to Phoenix roundtrip plane ticket).
These days, a business without a website is behind the times to say the least. And it all starts with buying a domain. Hover, GoDaddy and a plethora of others can get you set up for about $10 a month. Annual cost: $120.
What's a business without email. (Hint: it's not a business.) OK, that may not be entirely true, but most businesses need email. And we're not just talking about firstname.lastname@example.org. That looks hokey and unprofessional. However, Google Apps for Work hooks your email into your domain (think email@example.com instead of firstname.lastname@example.org. Sorry but not sorry for publishing your email, Kasey!). Plus, with Google Apps for Work, you get Calendaring, Contacts, Google Drive, a YouTube account (if that's interesting to your business) and more—all for just $5 per user per month. So if it's just you, that's $60 a year.
Need a website where you can peddle your wares? Services like SquareSpace can get you up and running for $16 per month. Without this sounding like a commercial for SquareSpace (and it's not), that includes fully integrated ecommerce and the ability to sell up to 20 items. Annual bill: $192.
Is email the way to your customers' hearts? Cloud-hosted email marketing systems not only make you look uber professional, but they also manage lists and report on super useful metrics like open rates, click rates, and more. That sort of recon is worth its weight in gold—or about $120 a year with MailChimp's Entrepreneur plan.
Social Media Management
If engaging with your community is key to success, social may be where it's at. (Be wise though. Don't just do social for the sake of doing social. Be thoughtful about it and have a goal.) That said, there are plenty of social media management platforms out there like HootSuite, Buffer, SproutSocial and more. You can get up and running with HootSuite for $9.99 a month, $119.88 if you buy for the year.
OK. This is a pretty solid list. Let's see what the total annual cost of getting outfitted with the best business software apps the web has to offer...
Now before you gasp, think about what this number means. First, it means you've got a lot of your business infrastructure ready to roll for under $1,500.00. Second, you can write every cent of it off. But perhaps the most important implication is this: with online business software, every element of your business is accessible from anywhere at anytime. All you need is an internet connection and a device. (And for those that are crying "Security!", it's more likely that you'd leave your laptop and all its data-rich desktop software on a train. Plus, security starts with you in the form of STRONG PASSWORDS.)
So there you go. $1,441.51 gets multiple facets of your business up in the cloud for a year. What are you waiting for?
(NOTE: All prices noted were done so today, June 2, 2015 and are subject to change.)