Having spent a lot of time working in the technology industry I have witnessed my fair share of IT mistakes that small to medium businesses often make. These common faux pas can be easily corrected and will save any business time (ie. money!) and help you grow further in the long run.
For non-technical businesses, the challenge is in finding the trustworthy partner which will address these with, and for you. Not for the money they’ll invoice you for. In the end, the goal of any organisation is to grow and focus on their industry and what they do best.
Have you thought of backups
It has now become a fairly common notion that backups are not a matter of whether you need them, but more like when you will need them. Knock on wood. In today’s smart economy (think smart phones and tablets) any device can prove a significant pain were they to get lost, stolen, crash or wrongfully synched and wiped clean! See for yourself!
Are you well supported?
A vast majority of businesses today rely on computers heavily (software and hardware). Most processes grind to a halt when a computers won’t start, or when a network is hit by a virus or malware spreads. Unless you are prepared to lose weeks of work, and not be online for hours or days, then it is crucial to have the proper support agreements in place as well as have your computer environment setup to leverage a proven infrastructure (we are not in 2000 anymore, think of the cloud!).
A well organised business can completely lose any computer and be back within hours if not minutes, with their work where it w
Seriously, your emails go in the cloud!
Often unknowingly, a significant number of small and medium businesses run their email off an over-utilised shared hosting environment or their own, more costly server. With the availability of cloud-based services, every business small or large has got access to fully backed up, redundant services, integrated with Outlook and Mail, or any phone or tablet. Startups are up and running in minutes, and even large corporate only take a little longer to migrate – see Fairfax kicked off the move.
Also think of the cloud as services which are also supported and will keep working even if the company website (God-forbid!) became unavailable – all this for less that $1 per week!
Oh, and you also get contacts synched across all devices, too!
Still using your ISP email addresses?
Many tiny (1-3 staff) businesses still use their ISP email, @optusnet.com.au, @bigpond.com.au, @iinet, @tpg, etc. Perfect 10years ago, but not so much today! Domain names start around $10 per year, and cloud-based email hosting is not much more expensive. However having your own email addresses will give you the professionalism and also scalability (new users) needed by your business growth, on top of allowing you to keep the same email address when you move house or offices or change ISP!
There’s only one chance to make a first impression
More and more, clients will “check your site out” just like they used to look at shopfronts years ago. They may not read much of the site, but this will create their first impression of your business, based on what they see. If it still features a promo from back in 2009, or if it doesn’t exist, or has been designed by your 15yo nephew years ago; well chances are their opinion might be damaging and the worst is that you will never know about the missed opportunities! A website doesn’t have to cost thousands. You can easily get a few pages running for much less than that. If you have the skills, time and patience also, a number of offerings will give you a DIY website for a few dollars, if you have the time and can be bothered.
Time to take out the trash?
Everyone keeps their living environment tidy and will address maintenance as needed; think of a fresh coat of paint every few years and wheelie bins on the street once a week. The same applies to computers. A well maintained computer will run fast, virus, spyware and clutter-free for years. Likely faster than the shiny new machine your cousin bought 6 months ago! With the right software, very few steps are required, and many can be automated.
This allows you to focus on running your business well and efficiently, not wait for that endless progress bar when you are about to close a new deal and need that last piece of information, now! Speed and reliability are crucial to your business. Prove me wrong.
Do you DIY with your technologies?
We now live in the world of information, where anything you will ever need to know on your computer or software, and also a detailed “how-to” is available from your favourite search engine. Much like the owner manual for your car which details where the oil filter is located in your car so that you can change it yourself and save a few bucks – great! Unfortunately, your business must focus on what it’s good at, on where it specialises and where it makes a difference and sorry, but most people holding a smartphone with only one hand are not necessarily experts.
Technologies are changing fast, and increasingly complex and most agree – why change your car oil filter when you can get it done for $50 and within 30 minutes? Computers are the same and your most recent problem can be sorted for a fraction of the time you would take! This is true for your accounting, payroll, marketing, design services.. all can be outsourced for better value and efficiency. Latest news, newsletters or EDMs, blogging, website updates, etc.
That feeling of protection, is fake!
You run some anti-virus on your computer so therefore feel secure, right? Unfortunately, threats are everywhere and most anti-virus software will only address about half the vulnerabilities your computer is exposed to. All computer systems and devices have inherent security risks which can be exploited. Websites will want to install software without (or sometimes with!) your consent or your internet access might let traffic into your business.
Any problem with any computer in your environment can take you down in no time and all one-man businesses running off a laptop face the same challenges. The reality is, if you use a computer, you are at risk. Get an overall assessment conducted to make sure your systems are secured and properly configured. This will help conduct better business, longer!