File sharing for small businesses

As a small business owner or worker, you don’t have time to waste. You are probably already using a handful of time-saving tools, but few tools are as simple and productive as file sharing.  

Read on to learn more about file sharing – and how it can streamline your team’s workflow and productivity. 

What is file sharing? 

File sharing refers to the general act of sending files to other people. When files are shared via email as an attachment, you often send them back and forth to download, review, edit and send back. This process led to the creation of many versions of one document, making it difficult to track the latest version. 

While sending files via email is adequate, it’s inefficient in most cases. The best way to share them is through a cloud storage service. Cloud storage for business empowers you to store files share and access them quickly, without email attachments.

Provided you grant permission, a team member or client can work on a shared file. You don’t even have to send files back and forth to collaborate. Two or more people can work on it online in real-time.  

You can use cloud-based file sharing for most files, including: 

  • Documents 
  • Slide decks 
  • PDFs 
  • Spreadsheets 
  • Videos 
  • Photos 

Cloud-based file sharing allows you to easily send files and collaborate with your team on a single document together. It offers a far more streamlined workflow than sharing via email attachments. 

How to share a file  

Sharing a file with cloud storage often follows these steps:  

  • Sign in to your cloud storage account on your computer, tablet or mobile device via a web browser or mobile app 
  • Select a file or folder 
  • Select “Share” from the menu  
  • Choose the level of access you want your recipient to have (e.g. “allow editing”) 
  • Choose who can view the file (e.g. specific individuals, people in your company or everyone) 
  • Choose the security you want on the sharing link (e.g. password-protected or time-expiring links) 
  • Enter your recipient’s email address and hit send or copy the sharing link and paste it into an email or chat 

Frequently, documents or spreadsheets are integrated with cloud storage so that you can share directly from the file itself. After you share the link, your recipient can access the document. 

Accessing a shared file 

Accessing a shared file is easy if you’re the recipient.  

An email invitation will contain a link to the file and information about who sent it. When you click on the link, a new browser window will open with the file. You can work on the file in your browser or download it from your browser to work on it offline. 

The person sharing the file can also send the link via a personal email, web chat or social media message. Then you click on that link to open the file.  

Most cloud storage services do not require you to create an account to access a shared file. 

Working together on a file 

On average, collaboration takes up 80% of the working day. Cloud-based file sharing solutions are useful collaboration tools. Working together on a shared cloud-based file is easy.   

After you share the file, people with access can perform these actions:   

  • View. Any person with your link can view your file. They don’t need to sign in to the cloud storage platform to do so.  
  • Download. People with your link can download your file. You can choose to block downloads if you want to restrict that action.  
  • Edit. With full editing permissions, your recipient can edit your document freely. It’s a best practice to turn on the track changes feature so you can view and approve of all adjustments.  
  • Review. This mode allows your recipient to suggest changes or additional content. Each new revision to your document is marked in a new colour.  
  • Comment. People with file access can insert comments and read and reply to other comments in your file.  
  • Collaborate. Multiple people can edit your file at the same time. Your document will indicate their names of all the people working it. All changes sync in real-time, meaning that they update automatically across everyone’s copy of the document. 
  • Share. Finally, everyone with editing permissions can share your file with others.  

Choosing a file-sharing solution 

As a small business, you should carefully consider the file-sharing features offered by cloud storage providers.  

Critical file sharing features include: 

  • Commenting. Collaborators need to be able to comment on specific passages and parts within a document. Projects will progress quickly if your team can edit and comment on a single document.  
  • Comment notifications. Comment notifications alert you via email when someone adds notes or comments to your file. These notifications can help you stay on track and focused on the project at hand. 
  • Track changes. This feature clearly marks all modifications made to your file. Then, you can either accept or reject the changes. This feature gives you more control during the editing process.  
  • Version history. This feature allows you to see each draft of the document since its creation. Version history protects your document in case team members make significant changes that don’t work.  
  • Password-protected sharing link. Many files don’t need password protection. However, some files are too sensitive to share freely. Your team must be able to protect links with passwords. 
  • Expiring sharing links. Your team should be able to share links that expire after a set amount of time. These links apply to timely projects that you don’t want team members or contractors working on after a specific date.  

File sharing for your team 

File sharing streamlines workflows, allows people to collaborate remotely and provides document protection and cloud back up. The right solution will help your small business save time and increase productivity. Try a free cloud storage for one month including 5 GB in OneDrive. 

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Business Insights and Ideas does not constitute professional tax or financial advice. You should contact your own tax or financial professional to discuss your situation..