By Simon Burckhardt, Managing Director, Vonage UK

Small businesses are always looking to manage their costs but few realise that there are many valuable services that can be accessed for free and are available through the cloud.

Storage options in the cloud both offer a place to store important files and documents, as well as back-up for company data. Typically free allowance ranges between 2GB and 5GB. When backing up online, there are many software apps that will now do it automatically on a regular basis so that business owners do not need to worry about it. Finally, cloud solutions not only allow for storing of files, but enable the easy transferring of large files over the internet.

Communicating effectively with customers, suppliers and business partners is key when growing a business. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is an often overlooked cost effective solution that can provide one or more additional phone lines over an existing internet connection. And if businesses need to connect various people together, teleconferencing is no longer a paid for the service; there are many “free” services that don’t charge the conference host.

More surprisingly, is that while many small businesses want to draw new customers in many don’t even have a working website. No matter the size a business should register a domain name with a provider who offers free web site hosting and put up a site, even if it is only for basic contact information.

Finally and because security is always a concern, businesses can make sure they are protected by anti-virus software by using providers who offer products for free in the hope that the business or individual will eventually upgrade to the more advanced and costly product.

The cloud offers small business many tools key for competing in today’s economy, so before investing in costly technology, check for cloud-based alternatives that may just be more cost effective.