Do we recommend MS Office 365 for small business in 2020?

Updated: Jul 20

Your small business needs smart, reliable, and cost-effective tools that allow you to focus on your core activities: roofing, painting, selling houses, renting condos, you name it. We get it. We at Kiwi need that too!

But do we at Kiwi recommend Microsoft’s suite Office 365 for small business in 2020?

Office 365: Main Characteristics (that small business care about)

We’ll start right off the bat that we at Kiwi do use Office 365 since we are a small business heavily focused on efficiency and effectiveness. Why? To spoil the surprise. No, just to be honest with you. We will answer the question stated in the title and you’ll decide whether that applies to you or not.

Office 365: What is it exactly?

Remember when you had to buy Microsoft Word? You bought that software. It came in diskettes and you installed it on your machine. Then you later on decided that you also needed Microsoft Excel. You’d then do the same thing.

One beautiful day Microsoft decided to create a bundle and call it Microsoft Office. Then you’d buy a CD with all those computer programs: MS Word, MS Excel, MS Powerpoint, and even other software. Then you’d install that software on your PC. Is that Office 365? No, that is not it yet. Bear with me. Believe me, this will make your - small business owner - day.

Office 365 (and a potential alternative to it?): Software-as-a-Service versus Product

Then the era of the “Let’s make everything be a service!” came. Back in the day, Richard Kiyosaki said something like: “Remember when your dad told you that ‘Cash is king’? That’s wrong! Cashflow is king!” Then companies moved from the business model of “selling big once” to “selling something affordable every month” (or every year).

“But hey, Vinnie, why would I pay many times for something instead of only once?” I hear you ask. I’m with you. It seems pointless, annoying, and expensive. Maybe even a rip-off!

But if that is the case, why so many companies - tiny start-ups, solid giants (like Microsoft), and everything in between – are using that model successfully? And more important to your decision-making as a small business owner: why are so many of my competitors are accepting to “pay many times for the same thing”?

Office 365: more details and cost-effectiveness

Let’s see the cost of Office 365 (Software-as-a-Service business model – or “SaaS” as we, nerd businesspeople, call it) and its benefits. Then let’s compare them to the cost and benefits of buying the non-service version of Microsoft Office - yes, it’s still available, and deciding which one to go for (if any) is up to you, the small business owner.

The Canadian Microsoft website shows 4 tiers (or levels) of service. Kiwi recommends the “Microsoft 365 Apps for business” level of service. I could go on and compare the 4 of them but it’d be boring for you - too much technical language. Just trust us, how about that? Those C$13.20 per user per month (plus taxes) subscription will get you where you want to be – and deserve to be! (after all, we, small business owners, work hard, right?)

Also, note that the price above is in a monthly commitment. Yes, no 2-year contract like with some telecommunication plans. You’re free! And it gets even better! You get to try if for free for a full month! If you dislike it for whatever reason, just cancel it before that month is gone, and you will have paid (and will pay) zero. Nada!

We at Kiwi are passionate about being efficient and effective through smart decisions. We know you are too! And if you are confident that Office 365 is the right choice for your small business, you can save money by choosing the annual commitment. The exactly same Microsoft 365 Apps for business plan will then cost you C$11.00 per user per month (about 17% off) before taxes. That’s pretty standard with SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) offers: if you pay the whole year in advance, they give you 2 months off (i.e. you get 12 months of service and only pay for 10 months). You can do the math if you like, but that’s pretty much it!

Now let’s do more simple, small business owner math: Microsoft has a recent history of releasing a new MS Office (not Software-as-a-Service, just like in the old CD times) every 2.5 to 5 years. If you follow that link you’ll realize that the average is indeed around 4 years. Hold that thought. If you go for the yearly subscription as suggested above for four years in a row, you’ll pay C$440.00 before taxes. Now you must be asking yourself: “And how much does a ‘non-service Microsoft Office’ cost anyway? I want to put them side-by-side, Vinnie!” Let’s once again ask the Microsoft Canada website: Microsoft “Office Home & Business 2019” costs C$319.00 before taxes (one-time purchase).

So is it a no-brainer to go for Office Home & Business 2019? Not just yet. We promised you to compare apples to apples. Actually, we promised to compare costs and benefits, but you get the idea!

So now for the comparison between the benefits (or software features, if you like) of both options, shall we?

The Microsoft Canada website states that Office Home & Business 2019 provides you with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote (for Windows or Mac). On the other hand, the Canadian Microsoft website tells us that the Microsoft 365 Apps for business plan provides you with the following:

And that makes all the difference! We’ll explain why:

1) You get all the programs that the other offer brings (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote).

2) You get Outlook (to work with the Corporate Email that Kiwi can provide you; for instance: or Outlook alone is enough to make for the price difference, but we will give you a few more reasons.

3) You get OneDrive. Please hear me now: in 2020, your business simply cannot afford to not have Cloud-based Storage. You heard of Cloud-based Storage: OneDrive (by Microsoft), Google Drive (by Google), and Dropbox (another leading provider in that field). Those large and experienced (and even more important: solid!), companies provide those safe, reliable services for you never have to worry about losing your data anymore. Also, OneDrive allows you to quickly, easily, and safely share files and entire folders with your customers, suppliers, and partners – and with us, when you are working with us! Lastly, OneDrive syncs your files and folders across all your devices. That means you can review that proposal and give that 10% discount to close the deal while on the road. That makes you so much more agile and flexible – and so much less frustrated! That agility and flexibility literally translate into more business for you!

4) Additionally, you get a feature that is priceless (well, in our opinion OneDrive is also priceless… but hear me out now: you’ll love this!): Automatic new feature updates. While the other option is “frozen in time” (the way it was when it was released), Microsoft 365 Apps for business evolves. That’s due to its nature: it’s a service, not a product anymore. To show you how powerful that is, let’s imagine you bought a Honda Civic 2020. Now imagine that for the Honda Civic 2021 (that hits the markets months after you bought your brand-new car), Honda introduces an enhanced safety system to help change lanes and improves the cyclist camera. It’s very easy to become frustrated: “If I had only waited for a few more months to buy my new car…” No more! Imagine Honda applying those very same features to your Honda Civic. Imagine “Civic as a Service”: wouldn’t that be something? Well, that is not yet possible in the car industry, but you are just a few mouse clicks away to get yourself as awesome as that through a Microsoft 365 Apps for business subscription.

5) There are more advantages when you chose Microsoft 365 Apps for business instead of the other choice. You can easily compare side-by-side, apples-to-apples, the features of both offers on the Microsoft Canada website.

Review and Conclusion - Office 365 for Small Business

First, we explained that there are two ways to buy Office for a Small Business: buying a product (which was the original business model of Microsoft’s) and subscribing to a service (the business model that most tech companies have been using in the last decade).

Secondly, we chose – specifically with a small business in mind - the right level of service for Office 365 (Software as a Service: Microsoft 365 Apps for business) and the right product for Office 2019 (product, not service: Office Home & Business 2019). As part of that, we explained the pros and cons of subscribing to the monthly and yearly commitments.

Lastly, we compared the costs and features of both (Microsoft 365 Apps for business and Office Home & Business 2019).

The conclusion is that the solution that will keep you more agile, flexible, connected, up-to-date – in a cost-effective manner – is Microsoft 365 Apps for business). You can subscribe to it on the Canadian Microsoft website. That link will also allow you to choose between the monthly and yearly commitments.

If you found this useful, you might want to use your brand-new Outlook (which will come with your Microsoft 365 Apps for business subscription) along with the Corporate Email we can provide you.

Do you have any thoughts on that? Drop us a comment! We’d love to hear from you!

Press on,


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