If you own or operate a small business, chances are your eyes glaze over every time a new technology breakthrough comes on the scene. All those innovations sound great, but are often reserved for big enterprises with even bigger budgets. The little guy usually can’t access it, use it or afford it.
Maybe that’s why an estimated 80% of small businesses don’t take full advantage of various digital tools. However, those that leverage technology sell more, hire more and earn more.
There are practical technology strategies that small businesses can implement to gain a competitive advantage without breaking the bank. Here are just a few.
1. Make Security a Priority
Without a doubt, cybersecurity needs to be top-of-mind for small business owners. In a time when ransomware attacks and data breaches seem commonplace, it’s surprising that only 68% of small and mid-sized organizations use proper protections to keep their systems safe. There’s a disconnect among many companies that believe they’re too small to be a target or that the risks related to the amount of data they have is minimal.
Truth is, this “it won’t happen to me” attitude leads to small businesses being targeted more often and more easily than major corporations. Hackers know that smaller organizations are often easy targets that require little effort on their part to make a few bucks by holding systems hostage or stealing sensitive data to sell on the dark web.
Most business owners don’t realize how important — and easy and affordable — it is to put proper protections in place and to educate employees about cyber risks. If that sounds like you, provide tools for your employees and consider working with a third-party technology provider that can help.
2. Implement Cloud Storage
Most small businesses already leverage various online platforms to conduct their operations, but a surprising number still use on-premise servers to store data. If you’re concerned with cutting costs and minimizing the risk of data loss, a move to the Cloud may be a no-brainer. The difference between Cloud storage and on-site servers is that there’s no equipment to maintain, no manual backups to perform and no risk of obsolescence.
A Cloud storage solution can also scale with your business, and systems are automatically upgraded and improved to ensure optimal performance, security and reliability. Perhaps most importantly is that data is backed up continuously so that if a cyberattack or disaster does occur, it can be retrieved quickly and easily.
75% of IT managers who had a backup solution in place weren’t able to restore all their lost data.Click to Tweet SOURCE
3. Enlist a vCIO
Most small businesses simply can’t afford a Chief Information Officer (CIO) to oversee their technology needs and stay on top of emerging trends and cyber threats. As shown, however, small businesses need the expertise and diligence that a CIO can bring just as much as larger enterprises.
Enlisting the help of a virtual CIO (vCIO) from a technology provider is perhaps the most cost-effective way to address a small organization’s IT needs and help its bottom line. A vCIO is a dedicated technology expert who works with you to develop an IT strategy and provides many of the benefits of a full-time CIO without an executive-level salary. This person typically has an entire team at his or her disposal to assist as needed, including round-the-clock phone support and remote monitoring of your systems.
4. Invest in Proper Tools
A common recommendation is to upgrade computers every two to three years, but many businesses end up keeping equipment long after its useful lifespan, creating issues with upgrades, security patches and obsolescence. Considering how quickly technology is advancing in today’s marketplace, it’s easy to fall behind the competition.
A practical solution is to lease equipment versus buying it outright. This helps conserve capital, credit and cash flow while ensuring you have the latest technology to grow your business. When looking at equipment needs, think beyond typical IT; there are multiple types of business equipment you can lease — everything from phone systems and video surveillance to digital signage and warehouse equipment.
5. Rely on a Managed Print Solution
When thinking about technology, printers and copiers are often an oversight. Today’s multifunction printers, however, do so much more than “make copies.” They are an integral part of your computer network and require many of the same considerations and security precautions as other devices in your system. In fact, some experts suggest that printers could pose one of your greatest security risks.
A Managed Print service can help minimize printer downtime by performing proactive maintenance and improve your print security by making sure you’ve got the proper protocols in place. Assess your print environment to see if you recognize any of the signs it’s time to replace your printer or copier. In addition to saving paper and toner, you’ll likely save a lot of headaches and some money, too.
Having the latest technology and IT expertise can become a reality, even for a small businesses. Leverage the knowledge of a Managed IT provider that specializes in helping small organizations get enterprise-level results. Reach out to the team at the Gordon Flesch Company today, and be sure to check out our infographic below for more insights.