As a small business owner, you probably already use Dropbox as part of your daily workflow.
However, in this post I am going to share five tips to use Dropbox for small business that you might not have already thought of.
Dropbox Options for Small Business
In case you don’t already use Dropbox, Dropbox works by automatically synchronizing a set of files (your Dropbox folder) across all of your computers (desktops and laptops). For tablets and mobile devices your files are not automatically synchronized to preserve the local storage space – but they are available on demand.
Your files are also synchronized with the cloud, so no matter where you are or what device you are using the most recent versions of your files are always available on Dropbox.com.
If you accidentally delete a file, you can retrieve an older cached version from Dropbox.com too.
It is important to note that Dropbox is not cloud storage.
In my opinion this makes Dropbox far superior because you always have your files available on your local hard drive – which is absolutely necessary when working with large files like photos and video (you might get away with working on a typical office document over the cloud – but nothing like RAW photos and video). With Dropbox, your files are always available offline too (you are not dependent on your cloud service provider).
There is also Dropbox Business which starts with 5TB of space for five users at $75 per month. Unless you absolutely need user access control, I personally don’t really see a point to Dropbox Business – it costs more per user, you still only have 1TB of space per user and in most small business environments, having multiple users share a single Dropbox Pro account isn’t a problem.
If there is one major complaint I have about Dropbox Pro, its that the 1TB of storage is far too small for creative professionals.
While I’m sure that 1TB is more than enough space for the average small business storing Word and Excel documents and the occasional site photo – for a photography studio, animation shop or video producer – 1TB doesn’t go very far – meaning that we still have to store the bulk of our files to a much larger local storage solution – like a NAS drive.
5 Tips to Use Dropbox for Small Business
Some of these tips might be obvious and some you might not have thought of before – so hopefully there are at least a few ideas here that will help you to leverage your Dropbox account.
1. Synchronize Accounting Files With Your Book Keeper & Accountant
Feeding information to your book keeper and accountant has always been a bit of a hassle.
In order to simplify this task, I have a Dropbox folder permanently shared with my book keeper so that she always has access to my most recent accounting information.
I file copies of my monthly bills, bank account statements, credit card statements, photos of cheques, sales records, government documents etc. – everything related to my business accounting.
This is also where I store my business QuickBooks file and all downloaded Quickbooks account statements (.QBO files). This way my book keeper and I always have access to the most up to date QuickBooks file.
One thing to beware of is that you have to make sure that only one person is accessing your files at a time – especially with active files like QuickBooks.
If both you and your book keeper are active in Quickbooks at the same time, you will end up with a bunch of conflicted files – so a little coordination is sometimes necessary.
2. Synchronize Your Lightroom Catalog Across Multiple Devices
One of the biggest limitations of Lightroom is that it was built to be used on one computer by a single user.
However, with Dropbox you can keep your Lightroom catalog automatically synced across multiple computer work stations.
In most cases you will probably have more than 1TB of photos and videos, so we are only talking about your Lightroom catalog and user presets – your actual files will still have to be stored to a local network attached storage (NAS). But it is still handy to be able to move between workstations without worrying about which Lightroom catalog is stored where.
For a complete explanation on how to synchronize your Lighrtoom catalog across multiple devices – click here.
3. Keep Your Deliverables Synchronized, Accessible and Downloadable
While 1TB of storage space is not nearly enough room to hold all of your RAW photo files, Photoshop files, Premiere Pro files and original video clips, it is usually enough space to store your deliverables.
By deliverables, I mean your finished JPEG photos and exported video – what you actually deliver to your clients.
Of course, it is necessary to keep your original files just in case you ever need to go back and change something – but in most cases, your finished work is whats actually important.
Storing your deliverables in Dropbox is far more useful than keeping them tucked away in a job folder on your local storage drive.
First of all, you can deliver your work to your clients via digital download. With Dropbox Pro you can set passwords for shared links, set download expiration dates and set view-only permissions for shared folders.
Transferring your finished work to your clients by digital download is a much more efficient workflow than having to deliver a physical storage device (like a USB drive – or if you still live in 1999 – a DVD).
Secondly, if you need to see something that you did on a past job, show someone an example of your work or distribute additional copies via digital download – they’re all there are ready to go.
4. Keep Your Job Files Synchronized and Accessible
In addition to just storing your deliverables, I keep all of my job files on Dropbox (except for the working files as previously discussed).
Keeping job files such as contracts, invoices, model and property releases, notes, lighting setup diagrams etc. accessible on Dropbox is essential to my business.
I reference these types of files all the time – and I never know if I will need something at my desk, on my laptop or on a mobile device.
5. Organize and Automate Your Social Media Activity
Finally, Dropbox is an invaluable way to organize and automate your social media activity.
I save all images and video that I share to my various social media accounts to Dropbox.
This way, I can keep track of what was shared where – and I know that I am only uploading the low resolution, watermarked copies that were exported to my Dropbox social media folder.
If you want to automate some of your social media activity, automation tools such as If This Then That (IFTTT) integrate seamlessly with Dropbox to supercharge your social media activity.
What Do You Think?
What do you think are some of the most effective ways to use Dropbox for small business?
What other solutions are available?
Leave a comment below and let us know!