Cloud computing can seem overwhelming. Recently, I had a conversation with a gentleman while waiting for takeout at a local Chinese restaurant. Our conversation started with the weather, then our kids, before it progressed to our line of work. He revealed that he owned a small, abstract, architectural firm. It\u2019s here, where I found myself talking about how great the cloud was. It was pretty apparent he didn\u2019t understand why I wanted to tell him about the cloud and all its advantages.\n\n\n\u201cI only have thirteen employees, and the cloud just seems like overkill to me,\u201d he said. Now I must tell you, I like to think I can sell anything to anyone. If you gave me enough time, I\u2019d probably be able to convince you that your hair is purple. For me, reaching an audience is the easy part. It\u2019s convincing them that\u2019s the challenge. What people need to realize is that the cloud is beneficial to businesses of all sizes. Find out why it\u2019s not just for super giant companies with thousands of employees.\n\n\nSo, the facts are there, folks. By the time this man\u2019s food was ready, he had his phone out and was looking-up PC Connection to learn more about the cloud, notably Office 365. Whether it was a just courtesy, I\u2019m not sure. But I do know his curiosity was genuine. So, without further ado, here are the top five reasons I told him how cloud computing would benefit his business.\n\n\nIncreased Collaboration\n\nIn any business, collaboration is key. As I like to say, \u201cteamwork makes the dream work.\u201d Obviously, collaboration can prove difficult at times. Say you had an employee who was trying to put a project in motion, but the big boss was traveling across country. To move this project forward, it first needs the boss\u2019 approval. Rather than emailing a document, receiving it, downloading the file, opening it, and so on and so forth, the boss-man can simply sync-up to the cloud. There he can work on documents, shared files, and whatever else is needed. That way, any edits are shared in real time, rather than creating multiple documents with countless edits. For example, when Frost & Sullivan recently performed a global study, they concluded that companies achieved a 400% return on their collaboration investments. This study also determined that, \u201ccompanies that deploy more advanced tools and foster a stronger collaborative culture enjoy greater benefits than those that concentrate on the basics.\u201d\n\n2.\u00a0More Flexibility and Productivity\n\nWhen you work in the cloud, you can work from anywhere, on pretty much any device (as long as you have internet access, of course!) This is especially valuable for small- and medium-sized businesses, because it provides the ultimate flexibility while simultaneously increasing productivity. With a small number of employees, the workload distribution can at times be overwhelming. The cloud allows easier access to shared documents, files, and communications. This can have a positive influence on work-life balance. All files situated in one central location will cut down the amount of time needed to travel back and forth, and increase efficiency and reduce costs.\n\n3.\u00a0Security and Data Backup\n\nAccidentally leave your laptop somewhere with all your important documents? Smash your cell phone with all the pictures of a project you were working on? Oh no, your desktop decided to crash? Good thing you don\u2019t have to worry, because you\u2019re taking advantage of the cloud! Regardless of a lost or damaged device, you can still access this data in the cloud. No need to re-run those reports, retake those pictures, or completely begin the presentation again. Talk about relief, right?\n\n4.\u00a0Affordability\n\nPay-as-you-go. Need I say more? (If you knew me, I\u2019m literally incapable of saying so little. So yes, I\u2019m going to say more.) Here, we loop back to the idea of flexibility. Is your business expanding? Then you\u2019ll pay more. Need to scale down? Then you\u2019ll pay less. You\u2019re also looking at inexpensive start-up costs, easily accessible and customizable apps, and, since the cloud is web-based, everything is updated regularly. It doesn\u2019t get much simpler than that!\n\n5.\u00a0Overall Benefits\n\nLarger companies have multiple resources and teams dedicated to the technical aspects of running a business (i.e., creating and maintaining apps, websites, and customer relationship management programs). With the cloud, this duty is passed to the service provider. Smaller businesses don\u2019t need to exhaust themselves financially to deploy this piece, themselves. Think of it as renting an apartment. If the dishwasher goes, you don\u2019t need to replace it\u2014your landlord does. Not to mention, you can also decrease your carbon footprint. Going green is an extremely popular trend among businesses, big and small. According to a study, conducted by WSP on salesforce.com, their force.com IT platform emits 95% less carbon than traditional on-site systems. Additionally, it\u2019s nearly 64% more efficient than private clouds.\n\n\nSo as you can see, there are multiple benefits to moving your business to the cloud. Whether you simply want to store shared files in a central location, easily create and maintain websites, or improve your bottom line\u2014the list of advantages is almost endless. Next time someone says a move to the cloud isn\u2019t necessary, send them my way. I\u2019ll convince them it\u2019s worth it; their hair is purple, and the best Chinese takeout.\n\n\nIf you\u2019re interested in moving your business to the cloud, check out some of our other Microsoft Office 365 articles for additional thoughts and insights. We even created our own tool, Office 365 Readiness Assessment\u2014suitable for businesses of all sizes\u2014to help you migrate to the cloud. If you decide to complete the assessment, we\u2019ll schedule a consultation with one of our experts. And as a bonus, you\u2019ll also receive a new copy of our book, Office 365 - Notes from the Trenches. Enjoy!