Technology such as computers, email, and the Internet can help make the process of starting and managing a business much easier, but there are certain pitfalls that can delay, or even stop, the growth of an otherwise healthy enterprise.
Here are five common and easily avoided technology mistakes which small businesses make:
1. Low-Quality Hardware or Software
The expense of running a business may tempt you to cut corners on purchases. Unfortunately, when you buy computers or software with a smaller price tag than mainstream products with a solid reputation, you often pay the difference on the back end. This could be because you need to pay a subscription fee to use a certain component of your software, or you have to replace your hardware after only a couple of years because it wasn’t built well. A low-quality product might also crash sooner meaning you lose any data saved on it. The ‘extra’ money you spend to purchase a high-quality product pays off by saving your business time and productivity.
2. Outdated Hardware or Software
Holding on to outdated hardware or software can cost your business more than the price of new products. By keeping old equipment (monitors, credit card readers, laptops, etc.) you run the risk of not being able to meet the needs of your clientele and your employees when it comes to processing orders and payments. You might even jeopardize the keeping of records such as payroll information or client contact data. Old technology just ends up costing you the efficiency, ease of communication, and increased productivity that comes with having hardware and software that is on that same level as the companies you partner with and the clients that you serve.
3. Not Having Enough Security
Small businesses can be vulnerable to security breaches because they can be seen as easier targets by some hackers. This is often because small businesses tend to not believe that they are big enough targets for hackers to care about. Be certain you have some sort of anti-virus software running on each computer at your company. The software should handle at least basic viruses that may come from sources such as junk mail. Check with specialists to make sure that you have the level of security that’s appropriate for your business. A local bakery is going to have different needs from a private investigation agency.
4. Leaving Staff in the Dark
When there’s a change in the technological infrastructure of your business, it’s vital that everyone working at your company knows how to use the new applications or equipment that is being introduced in as efficient a way as possible. They also need to be convinced that it’s going to make their life easier!
Though some basic tasks can be learned by searching through a user manual, in order to save time and increase productivity, it’s helpful to get an expert to train staff to use the new technology. Even the time spent searching for the answer to a question takes time away from your business’s productivity and so harms profitability. Seek out certified trainers for the particular equipment and software that you plan on using at your company and make sure that everyone who will be using this new technology receives good training and understands all the secrets and shortcuts related to using the product in a fast and efficient manner.
5. Not Backing Up Data
Thinking that a computer crash, virus, or fire won’t happen to your business and, therefore, not preparing for it to happen, is a huge mistake that could cost your business customers, products, information, time, and money. Not to mention giving you, the owner, a huge and unwelcome headache.
When you lose information your business can end up scrambling, and spending money, to recover that information or reconstruct it. Prepare your business by purchasing external hard drives onto which you can back up your important documents. Backing up data monthly is recommended. If you are in a fast moving business, you may want to back up two or three times each day.
If you need to back up data more frequently than every two weeks or so, consider subscribing to an internet-based data backup service. These companies will back up everything on your computers each time that you are online so that your data is backed up every single day that you work.
Though these are the basics, there are multiple ways in which your small business could find itself not using technology in a safe and profitable manner. Using these tips to get started, reach out to an information technology specialist in order to make sure that your business’ technological infrastructure runs as smoothly as possible and that you’re using your technology and your time to their fullest potential.