Most business owners wear many hats as the expert in all things business: marketing, sales, client relations, financial management and IT to name just a few areas.
IT plays a vital role in the success of small businesses, providing benefits including increased efficiencies and productivity, and more recently connectivity and mobility. Yet many operators tend to put technology investment on the back burner until their computer, printer or other gadget breaks down.
While there are several barriers that deter IT investment in a business, there are several reasons to bring it to the forefront. Getting the right technology, both hardware and software, and learning to make the most of it to maximise your and your team’s effectiveness can do wonders for your small business.
‘I’m not technologically savvy’
The perceived lack of knowledge about, or time to spend researching, IT matters is likely to be one of the top mental hurdles for small business operators. The first step is always to understand your own needs – what are you trying to achieve? Then focus on the business benefits that can result from addressing your needs, and determine the technology required to gain those benefits.
It’s not as daunting when you do a bit of research (try business technology websites and forums), and seek advice from IT consultants, financial advisors and your peers to help make more informed business decisions. You can also have peace of mind by going with established, profitable and trusted technology providers, especially those that offer training services, helpful resources and 24/7 support.
In essence, selecting hardware and software should be based on:
- application and use
- size of business with consideration for growth plans
- customer and staff needs and preferences
- infrastructure already in place
- budget, and
- return on investment of time and dollars spent installing it in the business.
‘It’s too expensive’
This is a common reason for avoiding IT outlay especially if you don’t have a large amount of cash in reserve, but costs don’t have to be prohibitive. The $6,500 small business instant tax write-off for new assets can assist in the investment of equipment that improves business productivity, team satisfaction and cash flow.
More small businesses are streamlining day to day operations by moving aspects such as their accounting software, email, office applications and file storage to the cloud, as many cloud-based IT solutions avoid the need to spend money upfront but bring immediate benefit. They also reduce the number of IT issues you need to deal with in-house.
There’s plenty of free online applications and social networking tools to help your business operate and grow too, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, community forums, blogs and more.
'If it isn’t broken, then why fix it?’
It’s a typical notion that delaying the replacement of older IT equipment = a prudent cost-saving strategy. However, in the long run, the rising cost to support aging equipment will begin to surpass any savings made by delaying the purchase of a replacement—and could even cost your business more money. Upgrading to the latest hardware or software will provide an efficiency boost, either through better (faster) hardware or through enhanced software that provides additional functionality.
Here’s an example: most reputable online accounting solutions such as MYOB LiveAccounts and AccountRight Live securely feed your business bank transactions directly into your data file, saving you hours in manual data entry and saving your accountant time spent fixing mistakes.
‘So, about this cloud computing…is it safe?’
The security of data is often quoted as a barrier to cloud adoption amongst business, and the reality is that the threat to data is real and there are attempts by nefarious parties to access data stored in the cloud. We have all read stories about online banking hacking attempts and the like. However, professional cloud providers employ high levels of both physical and electronic security to protect their clients’ data.
When considering a cloud solution, it is important to check the provider’s security policies and procedures are robust. This includes physical security of the server facility with 24 hour a day, 365 days a year video surveillance, strict personnel access control, firewalls, anti-virus protection, spam filters, disaster recovery and independent auditing and testing.
Despite this, many small business operators choose to remain with their existing IT set up because they perceive it to be easier or safer or they feel they’re not informed enough to make the right decision. Isn’t it time to take advantage of what better technology can offer for your business, so you can spend less time on admin and more time on doing what you do best… whether that’s at work or at play?