A growing number of small business owners have their heads “in the cloud” whether they realize it or not. From mobile banking to music streaming, people’s lives are being run by cloud technology. However, when faced with the decision to move accounting to the cloud, not every business owner is enthusiastic.
Many are still reluctant to embrace the promise of instant software updates and anytime/anywhere online collaboration with financial partners, including accountants. Instead, they see their confidential data, hard work and livelihood floating around in some digital ether, vulnerable to anyone who happens to walk on by.
A Wakefield Research survey of more than 1,000 Americans a few years ago showed that not only were many consumers still foggy on the whole cloud concept, but 51 percent actually believed that stormy weather could interfere with cloud computing, and 97 percent perceived cloud services as a futuristic vision.
As we’ve talked about in prior articles, such misconceptions couldn’t be further from the truth. But unfortunately, they continue to discourage many small business owners from taking advantage of everything that cloud computing has to offer, including your valuable online accounting services.
Here are the most persistent cloud computing myths that are clients must overcome when shifting to cloud-based business as well as a few thoughts to bring them back to reality:
Myth: The cloud is just the latest tech fad.
Reality: Your clients probably don’t realize this (few of us do), but technologists have been expanding, enhancing and utilizing cloud computing platforms since the 1990s. That’s right. Cloud computing has been around now for more than 25 years. But it’s only been in the past decade or so that it’s caught a tailwind and has started affecting businesses in huge ways. Most noticeably, cloud computing has all but eliminated the availability of desktop business software. That means software vendors won’t be providing service and support for desktop spreadsheet or word processing apps in a few years. They’ll be obsolete. Eventually, everything will be in the cloud. Trust me, this is not a fad.
Myth: Small businesses don’t do cloud computing.
Reality: Don’t look now, but chances are your small business clients have been unwittingly in the cloud for longer than some large businesses. If they doubt this, you might want to point out that those helpful applications they’ve been using to run their businesses–Gmail, AdWords, AdSense, LinkedIn, Evernote, Skype and OneDrive–are all examples of cloud services. Then smile and ask if those services are helping or wreaking havoc on their business?
You might also want to share the fact that more small businesses are tapping into the cloud to improve their services and operations. Two years after the consumer study I mentioned earlier, Wakefield Research conducted another related study involving 500 small business owners and reported that 62 percent of them use some form of cloud computing services, with 95 of those respondents seeing benefits as a result. In fact, 34 percent of those users said the cloud resulted in cost savings–which leads us to our next myth.
Myth: Cloud computing is too expensive for my small business.
Reality: Most cloud computing service providers understand that there’s no one-size-fits all cloud solution for every business. So while addressing this myth, here’s your opportunity to inform your clients that some companies now offer a variety of pricing plans to fit the particular needs of small businesses.
That aside, any cloud-based service worth its salt includes all the operational extras for which you’d normally be forking over money to handle on the ground. System maintenance, upgrades, backup protocols, additional hardware and bug fixes, as well as IT professionals that support and orchestrate everything are typically part of a full-service package. That means no headaches, hassles, sweat or, more importantly, extra costs on your end.
Myth: My financial data isn’t secure in the cloud.
Reality: It’s understandable that your small business client would be nervous about sharing or maintaining private financial data in the cloud. Heck, many large businesses have the same concerns. But security is crucial to the success of any cloud service provider, and they invest heavily in strong security measures to keep your data safe.
Some cloud accounting software companies, for example, have their own “white hat hackers” on staff to constantly poke, prod and penetrate test applications for vulnerabilities. They even employ dedicated teams of security experts who specialize in cloud computing. They have processes to ensure that they comply with international and domestic regulatory and industry standards. And, of course, they provide regular security updates for their software.
Myth: If I transition to the cloud, I’ll lose control over my data.
Reality: The complete opposite is true. With cloud computing, small business actually have more control over who can access their financial data.
For example, if you and your small business client decide to collaborate on the books using cloud accounting software, your client sets permissions for who can access those records. They alone grant access to business partners, in-house accountants and administrators. If anything, cloud computing gives small businesses more power – by enabling them to collaborate with financial partners anytime, anywhere and from any connected device. Without being shackled to a desk, cubicle or office building. Completely mobile and free.
Ah yes, freedom. We all want more of it. You know those commercials with the relaxed professionals kicking back by the ocean working away on their laptops while the waves lap peacefully at their feet? That could be your client. Paint that picture for them!
About Amy Vetter
Amy Vetter is a CPA.CITP, CGMA and is an accomplished c-suite executive and board member with deep experience in cloud technology and transformation, creating go-to- market (GTM) strategies to scale businesses nationally and internationally. Amy has held multiple roles in Fortune 500, startup, small company rapid growth, and is a serial entrepreneur. She is well-versed in overseeing marketing, sales, customer programs, and education. Amy is also an active member of the AICPA IMTA Executive Committee where she leads the Technology Innovations Taskforce and is an AICPA CITP Champion.