Any small business owner who is still in something of a transition phase between the old-school way of operating, and the new, more efficient, more communicated path to profits may still rely on off-line e-mail tools. We are so used to having tools like Microsoft Outlook on a local machine and while we may be able to network individual computers in our office environment to keep on top of e-mail communications, problems arise when we are travelling or on the road.

These days there is simply no need to be out of touch or be unable to compose messages, or react to important e-mails on the spot. We no longer need to rely on static resources when we can use online options such as Gmail.

Hundreds of millions of people around the world are now used to using the free e-mail service provided by Google for their personal mail. While it is all very well to have an e-mail address that ends in “@gmail.com” you will almost certainly lose some credibility if your business e-mail address is similarly configured. Google has the perfect answer with Gmail for Business, which is part of the Google Apps empire. It’s not that difficult to make the switch over from resources such as Outlook either and Gmail for Business is available free or for very little expenditure on an annual basis.

Once you have configured everything so that all your e-mail is funnelled through Gmail, there are a number of added benefits. For example, you can instantly place telephone calls to mobile and landline phones from within the programme should you wish or initiate instant messaging or even video chat with other Gmail users. Your e-mail will be automatically synced with relevant Apps placed on your mobile communication devices and you also have access to a large variety of different applications from within the Google Apps marketplace. You could use some of these Apps to set up CRM solutions, for example.

There’s no need to worry if you feel that your business life is currently “trapped” within your Outlook application. It’s relatively easy to import everything from Outlook into Gmail if you follow the instructions provided by the company.

How will your productivity be affected if you have instant access to e-mail wherever you are? There’s a lot to be said for delegating a particular period of time to e-mail matters and time management issues are a whole new subject in and of themselves. However in a world where time and communication can be all-important, it’s good to know that you can access your e-mail threads and conversations wherever you have access to a browser, rather than having to rely on an ability to somehow connect with your local machine “back in the office.”

It’s true to say that there is still a certain amount of hesitation in some quarters when it comes to “trusting” where you host all your important information, contacts and documents. However, as each month goes by we are able to see that cloud-based office productivity solutions are all the more reliable, and trustworthy.

It also provides the added bonus that your Virtual Assistant can easily access and help you manage your emails on a day to day business utilising cloud technologies.

If you need any help setting up your business email using Google Apps, please do not hesitate to contact us as we would love to help.

Have you made the jump from Outlook to webmail? If so, was it an easy transition for you? I’d love to read your comments.

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