There was a time when running a business online meant maintaining your own server, writing your own software – or hiring staff to write it for you. In other words it was necessary to have expensive hardware with proprietary custom code written by expensive and highly skilled software engineers. No longer – all of it can happen in the cloud and be operated from a mobile device or a laptop. Some types of business can even run retail POS (point-of-sale) with a cheap phone adaptor and a PayPal or Square account with an app on the phone instead of expensive credit card terminals and use of a lock box for the odd cash payment. Cash intensive retail businesses will be less adaptable – but can still use phone apps to simplify the customer interaction with bar code scans and stored payment information.

Distributed Office

Full time office employees can now work remotely when office work means interaction with customers or clients is by phone, email or video conference. Most professionals who don’t require face-to-face interaction with the public are able to do their work from in front of a computer in their own home or from anywhere with a secure wifi connection (or VPN on public networks). This means less time is spent commuting, going out to lunch or looking for parking spaces and more time working on what matters to the business.  More businesses are purposely abandoning office buildings in favor of on-demand office space or co-working spaces.

Less Overhead Expense

Today you can run a business from an iPad using open source software on remotely hosted servers. It’s no longer necessary for every business to start from scratch with every element of online business. Businesses can shed the office building, computers, phones and staff in favor of WordPress, a few great plug-ins, and a couple of freelance consultants for those complexities unique to your specific company. You may have the office and computer equipment, but need far less expensive equipment and fewer in-house people to help run the business.

SaaS & API – Cloud Services

SaaS or Software as a Service is becoming the norm in many businesses and it means that there are new ways to interact with software tools in the cloud. You no longer need to have customized software on your own server on premises. It’s now routine to use what is known as an API or application program interface – to do many common computing tasks for businesses. Payroll processing, web site analytics, securely processing payments, hosted shopping carts, databases, content management systems – all can be handled externally – in the cloud. This would all be very resource intensive when done under your own roof, but when done by a specialty service externally it can become cheap, fast and painless.

Business Blogging Anywhere

You can also post to a business blog from anywhere with a cell phone signal. Post via email or access your WordPress admin dashboard from that same phone. For those who prefer a keyboard, a laptop can serve to compose your narrative anytime inspiration strikes and makes it possible to post while sitting at an outdoor cafe. Your business can be run remotely with access to distributed office employees, software applications, client conferencing, remotely stored data and every aspect of that business. Keep security foremost in mind during that remote connection and practice strong cyber defense at all times to protect those critical assets. Enjoy.