Last year, I wrote a piece on top gadgets and apps for entrepreneurs, but between now and then, a lot has changed. Perhaps the biggest is the emergence of ‘cloud’ computing. Make no mistake, cloud has been here for a while, but 2011/12 really made cloud technology more than just a buzz-word.
The social layer is another thing that has sprung up over time. Yes, Facebook and other social networks have been around, but the way we share and spread information on the web has changed and is still changing. So, instead of listing gadgets and apps that Entrepreneurs should have, I’ve decided to start a series – The Entrepreneur’s Toolkit, to share some tools – be it gadget, apps, systems, etc. that’d allow for getting the most of what’s out there today.
This may be the most important for any entrepreneur, and instead of me listing hard drive manufacturers and specification, I’d recommend cloud-based storage. While it’s not only about the size of storage out there but also about accessibility, i.e. being able to access your data or information anytime and anywhere, these two come highly recommended – Google Docs and Dropbox.
I am still surprised when people respond in the negative when I ask them if they know or use the Google Docs service – especially when they are loyal Gmail users. If you don’t do Google, then this may be a good reason to start. Google docs is an incredible way to create, store, manage and work on common files – documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and other file types. The service also allows for sharing and collaborative editing on web and mobile.
You can have all of those documents on your PC uploaded to Google Docs too, so you can access them from anywhere, and share with anyone; conversely you can download online documents from Google Docs, as long as you got internet connection. Wait a second. Even some work can be done without an Internet connection. Before you click here to read more about Google Docs, I’d just add the cherry on top by saying the service is free.
Dropbox is a service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. Let’s just say it is like a ‘box’ in the clouds, into which you can ‘drop’ anything. Get it? Today, more than 45 million people across every continent use Dropbox to always have their stuff at hand, share with family and friends, and work on team projects.
While, you may not be able to have files in video and photo format in Google Docs, Dropbox comes to the rescue. Signing up for the service gets users free 2GB that can be used as long as possible. A single-user can however get up to 100GB on a monthly paid plan. If you run a business where a team is on ground, Dropbox now has a product offering up to 1TB to meet your needs. Get to work on the go, share and collaborate, with easy setup and control.
How much storage you have for data and information, as well as ease of access to this storage is critical and will continue to experience innovation. Sharing and collaboration cannot be overemphasized and should not be overlooked by entrepreneurs, hence, the need to add tools like Google Docs and Dropbox to the toolkit.
Perhaps, most entrepreneurs are reluctant about using such tools, out of fear of losing critical documents that is kept ‘in-the-cloud’. I would suggest back-up for such documents, but then again – aren’t you meant to be a risk taker? Yes, I hear you. It’s got to be calculated risk. How about the 45 million people are currently using Dropbox, and ‘gazillion’ people using Google Docs?
Next time on, I’d be looking at the gadget corner – perhaps the tablet. Why not? ‘The new iPad’ is here, and the tablet is kind of the best way for entrepreneurs to access cloud storage. Till then – adi bye bye.