arrows hitting the center of Green Thumb Down targetSmall businesses have to do a lot more work function with a lot less money. So it’s always a good bet to go with a software or office management option that will give you the most for your money. Google currently offers business solutions that are free (or close to it) to over 5 million organizations. And while having an email account connected to an online server, calendar, social media outlet, and more is wonderful at little cost to you, what are the downsides to solely using Google Apps for your business tools? Although Google Apps are less expensive, small business owners end up paying the price for not purchasing office software.

Have confidential business information?

Well, unfortunately if you’re using Google it’s not so private. When you “sign” the contract with Google (click the little box that says you understand all of the terms and conditions), you actually acknowledge that Google can go through your documents, emails, pictures, etc., and use it for advertising purposes. Systems like Microsoft Office, on the other hand, state that their company will not scan your information nor will they provide it to third-party companies. Because Google has close to 50 percent of the professional email market and competes with Microsoft and IBM, it is best to look at the options and the privacy policies they entail.

So you sent the email to the wrong person…

The email you sent one of your four employees just went to your mother because you were logged into your personal Gmail account instead of your work one. It’s sometimes easy to mistake which email account you are in, and not so easy for some employees to change. The benefits of using a program like Microsoft Exchange, or even Lotus Notes, are that they are much more widely professionally used than Gmail. Currently, 22 million of the 30 million servers worldwide use Windows-based programs and applications. Microsoft Exchange, their email platform, accounts for 78 percent of the internal emails in business.

When did we schedule that meeting?

Even more challenging than identifying which email account employees are in is the calendar. Although different people manage calendars in different ways, this can often be the troublesome part of using the Google Calendar App. And sharing a calendar? That’s even worse. It is unnecessarily complex, and again, can get complicated deciphering if you are in a personal account or a professional application. You simply can’t share a calendar or event with someone who doesn’t use Google Calendar. It is extremely incompatible with other calendar files. And let’s be honest, as a small business, your meetings are not only important, they are vital.

You need bigger files? Sorry, our cloud can’t handle that…

Google Docs is the lifeblood for many college students. It’s free to use with your email account and operates completely within the cloud. However, for professional purposes, it’s less than ideal. It doesn’t have much of the professional functionality of the Microsoft Office programs. For example, many of us would have no use for a spreadsheet that is 400,000 cells in total size, but that’s all Google Sheets offers. For those who are CPAs, or have an endless list of contacts, it just doesn’t quite work as well as Microsoft Excel, which offer 17 billion cells. With word files, it loses any and all watermarks within the document, and can’t produce them if you’re creating it in the cloud itself.

Google Apps are perfect for personal use with applications like Picassa and Google+ (which despite the social network’s capabilities is severely underused by most of the working population), but it is not ideal for the workplace. It does provide some of the functions of Microsoft Office, but it doesn’t include the same size or formatting capabilities. The Google Docs app is great for educational purposes, but the more sophisticated the document, the less capabilities you have to make it look professional, much less ensuring the document stays true to the original formatting despite the use of the cloud. The biggest issue with Google Apps in a professional capacity for small businesses is the incompatibility with other career-building platforms.

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