Six Common IT Mistakes Made by Small Businesses – And How to Avoid Them
In a tech-first world, even small businesses are highly reliant upon technology to get through the typical business day. Make the wrong decisions around technology, or skimp on IT support services, and it could cost your growing business dearly.
However, with so many things to focus on, growing businesses often leave IT on the backburner – and that leads to mistakes. Here, we list the ten most common IT mistakes growing businesses make – and what they can do about it.
Skipping on data backups
It’s true that businesses are increasingly storing data in the cloud, but backups still matter. Firstly, many small companies still use local storage extensively and sometimes unknowingly – laptop hard drives, or maybe network attached storage. These sources must be backed up.
Even if your company uses cloud storage exclusively, there remains a risk that a cloud vendor could go bust, that your company gets locked out – or that ransomware corrupts data. So, your business must regularly, and preferably continuously, back data up to a separate destination that is external to your physical location.
Taking a light touch to IT security
Think your business data is of no value to anyone? Think no hacker would ever try to steal it or lock you out of it? Think again. Today’s hackers do not look for high-value data. Instead, ransomware takes an indiscriminate approach – locking up any data that it sees.
Your data may have no value to the person who takes it ransom, but it has value to you. So, your security should be as watertight as possible. Use multi-factor authentication, strong passwords and a fitting security solution for anti-virus – and use it consistently. Also educate your users about the risks of a phishing attack that can lead to the installation of ransomware.
Making poor software choices
Time-pressured small businesses often jump in and choose the first software tools that come to mind. Or, use a single inappropriate tool across tasks when there are better, dedicated tools that will drive productivity.
It’s a false economy: it is far better for companies to spend a little bit of time evaluating which software tools drive productivity for their specific business needs. It may take a day or two of research, but in the long run, your business will save more time by using a great software toolset.
Skimping on good hardware
Yes, you can buy a laptop for a few hundred pounds. But what is the likelihood of your cheap laptop breaking down when you need it most – and what will that cost you in lost productivity. Though not every small business needs the latest and shiniest machine from Apple, it is worth considering how long your hardware will last.
Too often, what looks like a great deal can be poor value in the long run. Printers are a typical example: manufacturers may hook you up with a cheap printer, but it is not uncommon for the running costs of cheaper units to be far higher than a more expensive unit.
Ignoring the technology life cycle
Whether business owners like it or not, technology just isn’t one of those things you can set and forget. Hardware needs replacement every 3 to 5 years, and we’d suggest that companies also review their software solutions on a regular basis.
In fact, for some small businesses, we’d suggest an annual software review – simply because the latest and greatest in software as a service (SaaS) solutions are evolving so rapidly. If your business misses out on these developments, it may lose its competitive edge – or find out too late that its market is disrupted.
Going it alone
Finally, small companies should think twice about going it alone in the technology world. Not that long ago, almost every small company’s technology requirements were relatively simple. A fax machine, a PC and perhaps an email account. Security concerns were equally simple: a lock on the door and anti-virus on your PC.
The world of technology is no longer like that. Most companies use several cloud-based apps that all interconnect. At the same time, security threats have become more complicated – and more insidious. Effective IT now requires expert-level assistance. Small companies should seriously consider signing up with IT support services to help them make the right decisions – and to maintain a productive, safe IT environment.