Cloud computing is rapidly becoming an integral information technology solution for large and small businesses alike. According to CNBC, eight in ten companies and more than half of small businesses (10 to 99 employees) use cloud-based applications. The question is: does using the cloud significantly cut costs for small businesses?The answer is yes. Small businesses can reduce their operating expenses by about 40 percent a year by taking advantage of cloud computing. Based on their specific industry practices, businesses can look to the cloud to increase functionality, reduce the risk of disaster and expand their capabilities without hurting their bottom line. According to a recent Entrepreneur article, Post.Bid.Ship, a small transportation service that matches shippers with carriers looking for freight, chose the cloud-based client relationship management system, SalesForce, and marketing automation system, Spark, to help generate leads and manage the relationships with and between clients. Without the cloud-based services, Post.Bid.Ship would have needed nearly twice as much capital and staff to operate, says CEO Micky Thompson.For store owners, keeping track of profits and inventory is imperative, but accounting software can be expensive to buy and host on a server. With a cloud accounting application, such as Kashoo, data is stored and backed up in the cloud, limiting the threat that a computer crash or virus could seriously harm a retailer’s business.A small college could also benefit financially from using the cloud. eCampus News reports that cloud computing and storage not only reduces hardware, software licensing and utility costs, but also provides new capabilities, such as allowing multiple admissions officers to view the same student application simultaneously, without additional spending on equipment and support.Microsoft Office 365, available as part of Verizon Wireless’ Small Business Essentials portfolio, is a cloud solution that can benefit small business owners in just about any industry. With Microsoft Office 365, small businesses have access to email, instant messages with presence, video and voice conferencing and document sharing. Small businesses need to operate as productively as possible in today’s competitive landscape, with that in mind cloud computing is essential to their long-term financial stability and success.