“IF, LIKE ME, YOU can remember the days when companies had computer rooms the size of a netball court then it is easy to understand how ‘Cloud Computing’ became popular. The oﬀsite storing of computer infrastructure (IaaS) and platforms (PaaS) without huge cost outlay to companies was very appealing – outsourced, virtual and out-of-mind – just like a Cloud,” says Lindsey Carroll, owner and creator of Outbox Ltd.
“Imagine if you could outsource other tasks from your business such as website creation, email newsletters, e-signatures, documentation, social media and invoicing. Think what savings you could make on staﬃng, oﬃce space and software updates – a dream perhaps, but one that is now possible using Cloud Software as a Service (SaaS).
Today, outsourcing and working virtually brings enormous cost savings, particularly to those in the small to medium size enterprise market. They can use services that they need for however long they need them and only when they need to,” explains Lindsey.
Cloud software allows a business to share resources over the internet without holding ﬁles or software on a local computer. Anyone selling an item on Trademe, using Facebook or who keeps tunes on iCloud is already using software that takes advantage of cloud technology.
There are so many packages available from blog and website creation sites, MailChimp for email newsletters, Wufoo for online forms to Xero online accounting.
Lindsey says business owners are very aware that they need to keep up with changing technology, websites, social media and newsletters, but often it is just another job to do in the business rather than working on it. For most cloud software is an extra pair of hands, but for some Outbox can help be the buﬀer between the wonders of this software and the headache it can cause those who do not have the time or would rather not be using a computer.
The passion to help businesses succeed and become more productive led to the creation of Outbox, the Cloud Virtual Assistant (VA). The term VA has been well known abroad for many years. It is a modern way to delegate a virtual support person who is interested in your business and works like one of your team.
Since Outbox started in 2006 they have seen major changes in software, technology and working habits that inﬂuence how the business now operates. Initially oﬀering traditional documentation and administration services the expansion of online software was welcomed by Lindsey, who has a drive to learn new technologies and embrace change in the industry.
Lindsey explains that “Outbox can develop a website for your business, manage your email newsletters, create email signatures to match your branding, integrate social media with these and even export a PDF document to Word. We oﬀer Xero invoicing packages as well. Outbox is a one stop shop of services ideal for SME’s, but don’t take our word for it, visit the testimonials on our website to see how we have helped a range of businesses.”
“We aim to take the frustration out of keeping up with today’s online world and simply leave you more time to do the things you want to do,” comments Lindsey.
It became apparent while Lindsey was working in London in the early 80’s that she had a great interest in how IT could help the workplace. A period of 15 years with John Lewis Plc allowed her to develop her computer, design and business skills working in various areas of a large retail business before moving on to other companies and continuing to upgrade her skills.
Lindsey believes change keeps us challenged and active so when the opportunity of moving to New Zealand came up she and her family embraced it in 2005. She became a Certiﬁed Advisor of Xero when they launched, and qualiﬁed in New Zealand Real Estate just to have a better understanding of the industry.
“How we look for a service has changed; no longer is the phone book the norm. Customers turn to computers, mobile phone and tablets to search for services. They are active on social media and email newsletters are the new mail drop. Astonishingly, according to MYOB only 32% of New Zealand businesses have a website in 2012 so for those without one it is hard to compete in this online world.”
There is such a wide range of cloud software available now to help, but select those that complement your business and appeal to your customers, you don’t have to use them all. You may even stumble upon something to do with all the spare time you can create once you have cloud software helping your business – but most of all, have fun trying.
LINDSEY’S USEFUL TOP 10
Office365 – Microsoft Office software online
Google Apps – A range of online business applications www.google.com/enterprise/apps/business
Mailchimp – Email Newsletters & forms www.mailchimp.com
Xero – Accounting software www.xero.com
Flingah – SMS Messaging www.flingah.co.nz
Wufoo – Online form builder www.wufoo.com
Jing – Screen sharing and filming www.techsmith.com/jing.html
WordPress – Blog and websites www.wordpress.com
Weebly – Blog and websites www.weebly.com
Hootsuite – Control your social media www.hootsuite.com
TIPS ON HOW CLOUD SOFTWARE SERVICES CAN WORK FOR YOU
- Don’t tackle it – but embrace it. Think of Cloud Software Services as an extra pair of hands.
- Focus on the software packages that can add value to your business – don’t try and use them all.
- Appeal to your customers – what space do they work in? Are they using the web on an ipad or phone while waiting at the school for pick up, or are they at home on a desktop working late? How easy it is for them to contact you? Do you have a website? Do you have a form on your website? Would they like an e-newsletter from you?
- Listen to others – what software are they using and why. Nearly every week there is something new to try.
- Remember – if it all gets too much outsource the tasks you don’t have time for.
- Have fun –don’t be afraid to try new things, you can always unsubscribe!