Remote Working In The Cloud

Whilst freelancing from home has hundreds of positive things going for it (including the ability to rustle up something both yummy and nutritious in your near-by kitchen every lunchtime!), one problematic area can be your IT systems. There's no friendly IT technician sitting a few offices down when you're at home!

Tina Boden gives us her take on testing technology: 'I know that all you remote workers out there who run a micro business from home will understand when I say that I often have an issue with home office technology!

In particular I'm talking about broadband speed, the fact that there's no one to turn to ask an IT support question, the lack of a server to share documents and information...the list can be long and somewhat frustrating.

I run not one but three businesses (well, two businesses and a community interest company if you want to split hairs) from an office based at home, and I have clients and suppliers in both the UK and Spain.

Cloud computing for freelancers, home workers and home based business owners

Away From Home 

The nature of my businesses means I probably spend an equal amount of time at my desk and away from it. When away from my office I can be working in very varied locations with different clients or suppliers including olive farmers in the Priorat region of Spain; even the broadband in the Priorat works on a mañana, mañana approach.

Sharing documents with clients has brought me endless frustration, especially large ones that you struggle to email whether your broadband connection is good or not. I needed to find a solution that was effective, inexpensive, made both my businesses and I more efficient and something that when presented to my clients did not appear to be a monster sent to bite them.

Little did I know the thing that would revolutionise my freelance world was a cloud!

Up In The Clouds

My initial cloud experience (apart from those I was made to study at school - which I have to say did not thrill me at all) started with Dropbox; a free-to-use service that allows you to sign up and gain additional storage space if you refer others to share your folders.

Once you outgrow the free offer you can upgrade to a paid service if you wish though I have never needed that as I continue to invite new people to share folders regularly. I love Dropbox and eventually, after some gentle persuasion, so do my clients (most of them anyway).

I soon came to realise the efficiencies that sharing documents, photographs and files this way could bring to my business and how I could access whatever I needed without dragging my laptop everywhere with me. With this discovery however came an understanding of how changing technology would also help; something both my bank balance and my accountant will vouch for.

I have to admit to loving all things ‘i’ and can often hear myself sounding like a real nerd when I am standing tall in the Apple corner of the boxing ring. However I make no excuses for this and have to say the introduction of iCloud has made speaking about cloud software a lot easier to those I do business with because many of them actually own an ‘i’ something as well.

Being able to download an app and send documents via email from a phone or tablet is great when you are on the train, driving about in the car, not to mention if you are overseas working or on holiday – in short, anywhere that is not your home office.

Your Business In The Sky

Everyday can be a work day or a holiday as long as you have internet access. I have a hotspot (see how iHubbub member Gillian Woodland uses a hot spot while working from home on her canal boat) on my phone which acts like a dongle helping to ensure this happens.

Many companies offer bigger cloud solutions where you can move all your home business transactions, such as invoicing, cashbook, CRM and file sharing.

I have to say that working in the cloud often makes you feel, and behave much bigger and more efficiently than a one-man or woman home business.

If you haven’t tried it yet then give it a go; there are lots of different cloud providers and you could ask your micro-business mates for advice and recommendations regarding the ones they use.  I am sure the difference that cloud software will bring to your home-based micro-business will have you floating on high!'

 

About The Author

Tina Boden runs several home-based businesses and is the co-founder of Enterprise Rockers, a movement created to help support micro-businesses, and encourage them to survive and thrive.   

 

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