How Small Business Owners Can Work from Anywhere - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

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Work from home using cloud servers

Manage your IT woes with a savvy solution (Image: Thinkstock)

The new option of having your company’s servers “in the cloud” could prove a lifesaver to many small business owners. When the company that managed the web-based email servers at Syreeta Saunders-Keys’ eight-year-old real estate firm Keys2Day Real Estate kept breaking down, she realized that she needed a centralized system where she and her six employees could access email, store documents, and monitor the tasks from anywhere and at anytime. Saunders-Keys was using four different vendors to host file sharing, email archiving, calendars, web maintenance, and other IT necessities; all of which cost her $750 per month. Yet, her team could only access their email via web-mail and the vendor wasn’t syncing their email and calendars to all of their devices.

More and more the small business owner found herself bottled up in IT woes instead of focusing her attention on the real estate industry. The situation became drastic when she was unable to access her email archives despite having paid an additional $400 to ensure that the service was done. As a real estate agent this was problematic because she is required by law to keep certain contacts, conversations, and documents for 10 years after a deal closes.

“My job is to be out generating and bringing business in and not to be dealing with the minutia on the back end,” says Saunders-Keys.

In her search to rectify the situation and find a new provider, she realized that many companies didn’t cater to small businesses. “They want you to have a certain amount of employees and even if you don’t they want you to pay the same amount that big companies would pay,” says Saunders-Keys, who brought in $7.1 million in sales in 2010. Finally, she called Tarzana, California-based InfoStreet and found relief with their product Streetsmart, a cloud-based IT platform.

Keyon Thomas, a marketing director at InfoStreet and Saunders-Keys customer representative, assessed what each of her vendors was doing, migrated their file sharing services over to InfoStreet, and created them a complete cloud storage environment that would alleviate as much of the IT stress as possible.

“Being real estate agents–showing houses, working from home, and the office–it was important that all of their [systems were] exactly the same, without creating this huge IT infrastructure in their office to create VPNs and things like that,” says Thomas. “Lastly we coordinated with their website provider, who is still running their website to make sure we didn’t drop the ball with any of their domain name endings that connect the web site so that they didn’t have any down time.”

Click here for five tips on how to migrate your local server to the cloud-based server on page 2

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.