National Small Business Week (May 16-20) kicks off today and we pause to celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit and the powerful impact made from small businesses across the country.
Running a successful small business has always been hard and it is even harder in this economy. Small businesses have a unique set of challenges. They need to find innovative ways to get more done with limited resources and shoe-string budgets. They also need technologies that are easy to use as, let’s face it, small business owners often don’t have a designated IT department or the time to figure out complicated technology set-ups.
Perhaps that is why we keep hearing great stories from small businesses which have incorporated Skype. The same technology we already use to communicate with family and friends is also enabling small businesses to connect and collaborate with customers and partners in few clicks of the mouse, whether they are a SOHO or a company of thousands. It offers so many ways to communicate, such as video calls, low-cost calls to landlines, Group Video Calling, IM, file share and more (many of these features are free). Plus, with Skype Manager, an easy-to-use Web-based online tool, small businesses can manage Skype, allocate credit, and assign features so that they can better control their communication costs.
Of the communication technologies used by businesses today, video conferencing, in particular, continues to grow in popularity. In fact, a recent survey showed that it is the communication technology whose usage is most expected to increase this year, while legacy technologies such as email and landline telephone calling continue to decline. It is no wonder, as 68% of those surveyed who use video calling said they experience richer and more productive communication with colleagues, clients and suppliers are using Skype.
Beyond day-to-day communication, many small businesses are also putting Skype’s video conferencing features to work in new and innovative ways, from virtual sales demos to even virtual events. San Francisco retailer Glaser Designs, for example, has created a virtual showroom to provide demonstrations of its travel bags and designer accessories all through Skype. ePromos, based in New York City, holds regular video meetings with employees and contractors who are based around the country, enabling the business to have meaningful collaborate while cutting down on time out of the office and travel expenses.
However, among Skype’s biggest benefits is its flexibility, which is crucial in a small business environment. Skype is available around the world and on a variety of devices – from the computer to the smart phone. It is helping businesses embrace the Living Workplace trend that we have talked so much about on this blog. Whether a small business operates from an office, a home, a coffee shop or a mobile device of single traveling entrepreneur, Skype can help make work happen anywhere.
So, a big tip of the hat to you, entrepreneurs and small businesses! We love hearing how Skype is helping your business, so please keep the stories coming and feel free to leave a comment or tell your story below.