aNewDomain.net–As a small or medium business owner, you need to do certain things to keep your organization humming. Whatever your business, SMB owners need to have a firm grip on areas as diverse as accounting, marketing, management and now, more than ever, state of the art technology.
The smaller the business, in fact, the greater the knowledge the SMB owner must have. And that becomes truer every day.
I find many SMB owners don’t like technology. They resent it. They don’t budget for it. And they don’t realize how these actions dramatically affect their company’s bottom lines.
I’ve seen businesses lose key staff because they required employees to use outdated, frustratingly obsolete computers. I’ve watched painfully as organizations defer upgrades so long that they end up spending six months worth of profits on a forced or unplanned upgrade.
As the owner of a technology business, I’m responsible for managing my own technology as well as those of my clients. Here are some things to consider if you’re the one holding the tech bag for your organization..
All image credits: Jeremy Lesniak for aNewDomain.net
Designate an on-site point of contact. This person needs to have basic technology skills and should be the first person users notify for any and all tech issues. This doesn’t mean the person will be the one fixing them. But he or she can and must watch for patterns and represent the company to outside vendors, too. Getting this person some experience — that often includes training – will give them the knowledge to proactively look for potential problems. This knowledge will benefit your business.
Have a disaster plan for your technology. I’ve written before on the need for a technology disaster plan. No matter how much time and money you throw at your infrastructure, over time something will fail. It’s best to plan and budget for that inevitability.
Find and hire a trustworthy outside IT firm. Unfortunately, few organizations have all of the tech skills they need on staff. Anytime you outsource, you have the potential for both greatness and disaster. Talk to other business owners in the area about who they trust. Beware of signing long-term contracts up front, and make sure that the people at the firm you choose are able and willing to discuss things in plain non-tech English.
Have a five-year plan. It’s rare that any technology asset will be in place for more than five years. A five-year plan helps you understand what your infrastructure will look like after a complete rotation of devices. This plan should be updated at least once a year, likely with the help of your outside vendors.
Stay current with technology. If you’re interested in technology, this is easy and you’re probably already doing it. If you’re not, it can be quite a chore. I recommend you dedicate two hours a week to Leo Laporte’s TWiT podcast. This weekly program will keep you up to date on what is going on in the world of technology. While you may not be interested in the subject matter, the guests and format are entertaining – and it’s available as both audio and video.
Make sure your important data is backed up. You should entrust almost everything to your internal point of contact and your outside IT help — except backup. It’s critical that you understand the backup scheme and that you learn how to verify it. Make sure you do verify it. Often.
It’s not uncommon for small businesses to go out of business when they lose critical data. Backups are cheap and it doesn’t take long to do.
I know I just upended a lot of work on your plate. The upside?
Most of it won’t add much to your already busy schedule. The world has changed and ignoring technology is not an option. Just as you verify the bookkeepers records, SMB owners need to oversee tech. No one will ever care as much about the SMB as the one who owns it.