Choosing your Small Business IT Support provider should begin with an understanding of the major components your IT system. Essentially, these components are what your small business will run on. There are components and software that can give you competitive advantages, make a good impression on new clients, and help you grow your business. Let’s look at the major components of your small business technology.
1. Workstations: Each workstation, or computer, is a productivity unit. Your team members need reliable machines to service your customers and contribute to profit margins. Each workstation is also an entry point to your network. Keep your data & client files safe with sound computer & network security.
2. Networks: Networks are how your workstations are connected. They can be physical, with routers and cables, or virtual, like in cloud services. Network security is important to protect your data. For physical networks, network monitoring services can allow your IT technicians to be alerted when a problem is brewing, and have automated software, or your technician, correct the problem, before it interrupts your productivity.
3. Servers: Like networks, servers can also be physical, or virtual servers (cloud computing). Servers empower you to do everything from housing and sharing data amongst your team, to serving email, syncing smartphones and more.
4. Business Telephones: Clients call and you must answer. You must have enough business lines for clients to get through to you without frustration. Depending on the size of your business that may be 1, 4 or more lines. When a caller can’t reach you, voicemail is expected, and thus, it is a feature every small business should have. Additional features that can make your business look impressive, and ease caller frustrations could be auto-attendant, dial by extension, custom recorded greetings and messages. VoIP telephone systems offer all these features, and cost a fraction of traditional telephone lines. Every small business should at least consider and review VoIP as an option for their telephone needs.
5. Mobile Phones, Laptops, Home Users & More: The way we work today is different from the way we worked twenty years ago. Your network is accessed by employees and team mates in locations outside your actual physical office. Small business owners should consider how they work before choosing what type of server or network to set up. More companies, even small businesses, are moving towards virtual servers and networks which allow team mates to work more easily from remote locations.
6. Software & Critical Applications: From the ubiquitous to the highly specialized, every business uses a unique set of software to meet their needs and client demands. Often, the applications are purchased at various intervals of business growth, and don’t always integrate well.
Many businesses suffer from data leaks and work flow cracks, making it difficult or impossible to use their data effectively. Before purchasing software or investing in Software As A Service (SaaS) for your present needs, try to visualize your future needs. Then consider if the software you are considering can serve you today and in future. How “scalable” is it? Can it grow with your business and integrate into your systems?
If you are a small business owner who manually makes lists of clients now, and follows up via these manual lists (or post it notes on your desk, or scratch pads of to-do items), will that type of “business system” serve you if your client base was to grow by 10%? How about by 20%? Chances are that software exists to automate this “business system” and help you better manage client needs. This improves customer satisfaction, and eventually, client base growth.
IT improvements can help your small business be more responsive, more agile, competitive, and successful. It doesn’t need to be difficult. Whether you are just starting out, or have been operating for a few years, why not pencil some time in to your calendar to review your IT needs, and consider where IT improvements can be made?
Simply review your current systems and your needs. Consider your needs if you were to grow or get 10% more clients, and then 20% more clients. Make a “Need To Have” and “Nice To Have” list for your business, and call around to get some guidance and quotes. You can then begin planning for better IT and a more successful business.