I am getting dangerously close to starting my own part-time management consulting business, so long as abject fear, terror , and procrastination don’t get in the way. I started making a list of services that I would require so that I could begin research vendors and cost.
Enter the Cloud.
My business (as envisioned) would partly rely on implementations of social business tools for small and medium sized businesses and non-profits. This would require servers and hosting. I thought I would simply resell services from one of the established vendors, adding in my own overhead. The one-click installation of popular software packages like WordPress, MediaWiki, Joomla, or Drupal via Amazon Web Services now becomes easy and painless, no longer requiring a dedicated IT person for maintenance. In one regard, a significant barrier to using these technologies is lifted; the downside is another opportunity for revenue (in the form of referral fees and hosting markups) has been obliterated. It’s also difficult to see how Amazon’s pricing strategy of metering time would play out for low-volume users comparative to traditional hosting. I wouldn’t use it initially, but I can see the advantage deploying AWS eventually.
My second challenge would be the tools I would use to run my business. I need a way to prospect, contact, follow-up, pitch, account for time, manage projects, and bill my customers, as well as handling back-office operations like payment processing. Seeing as I plan on running a part-time, one person shop, I have neither the volume nor revenue to support a business development person, office manager, accounts receivable and payable person, marketing person, or controller. Once again, enter the cloud.
I’m not sure what Google Apps Marketplace vendors I would eventually use, but with proper vendor choice, process automation, and workflow design, I should be able to run my entire business in the clouds.