Small business owners are the fuel that runs the nation’s economy, yet many of these enterprises struggle to survive. Increasingly technology is becoming a key to business success or failure. Many SMBs have difficulty keeping pace with this rapidly changing field, but help is available from IT service providers.
SMBs are the nation’s economic backbone. There are 5.6 million businesses in the United States and 89% of them have 20 employees or less. Yet, many of those corporations fail. Within five years, about half of small business startups close their doors.
Running a successful SMB has never been easy, and the “to do” list grows longer daily. In the past, success came by creating and delivering a noteworthy product or service. While still vital, nowadays, enterprises need to do even more. Today’s small businesses are not the “mom and pops” of the past. They compete in the digital, global economy. Increasingly, their ability to use technology plays a key role in determining their fate. So, how can SMBs better manage technology and enhance their chances for long term success? Here is some helpful advice.
Recognize and Validate Technology’s Importance
Today, businesses rely on technology to get their work done. Traditional manual tasks, like generating a bill, tracking an order, and answering a customer inquiry, are being replaced by automated processes. Companies create, sign, send, and store customer records in virtual folders. In essence, your business relies on computers to function. If the system goes down, then the operation grinds to a halt.
So, you need to embrace technology. Your passion may be fashion, accounting, or food, but the way such services are delivered has changed. Technology advances are breaking down traditional barriers among customers, partners, and your business. In the past, large companies had an advantage because they had widespread distribution. Not anymore. With the Internet, you are able to reach customers down the block or around the world. To grow your company, you will need to leverage technology.
Understand Your Limitations
In addition to increasing in business importance, computer technology has become more complex. Hardware, desktop computers, servers, tablets, and smartphone are constantly advancing. Networks are growing in size and reach. The number of devices that users work with is on the rise. Software is becoming more modular and updates are coming more frequently, in some cases as quickly as every 15 seconds. Finally, the growing dependence on network communications opens the doors to hackers, who become rich by stealing your confidential information.
As a result, staying on top of the latest technology trends becomes a full-time job. Is this an area that your company has the skills as well as the desire to become expert in? Probably not. SMB executives want to focus on their business and not on the latest gizmo. So how can you leverage technology without becoming a slave to it?
You do not Have to be in the IT Business
As firms have struggled to keep pace with technical advances, new deployment and management options emerged. Many small businesses, and even many large organizations, now outsource parts of their computer operations.
Taking this step has many benefits. First, outsourcing enables them to get needed assistance from industry experts. Their partners concentrate solely on technology and are in strong positions to leverage the latest developments. Also, the SMBs do have to spend the time, effort and money creating or expanding their IT teams. They receive first-class computer service without taking on the often exorbitant expenses of cultivating the needed technical expertise themselves.
So What Services Should You Outsource?
Businesses rely on a number of different computer services, so which should they hand over to a third party? Companies need to ensure that their employees have the tools needed to complete their work. By handing that support to a specialist, corporations empower users who can select whatever end device (desktop system, laptop, desktop, smartphone, or tablet) in whatever variation best meets their needs. If problems arise with anything (software, printing, or email), help from the provider’s service desk is just a click or a call away.
Networks have grown in size, complexity, and bandwidth. Nowadays, they constantly generate alerts whenever individuals enter or leave. The volume of alerts has been growing and can overwhelm an IT team.
Experience is a good teacher. After managing many enterprise networks, a third party has the tools, team, and knowledge to see problems as they start to emerge. Rather than wait for something to break, they take steps to work around potential trouble spots and minimizing (and in many cases, avoid) downtime by tackling issues before they impact your business.
Bad guys are constantly trying to break into enterprise networks. Today, 1 in 13 web requests lead to malware (up 3% in 2016). Third parties deploying leading-edge security monitoring solutions. They run security scans, manage anti-virus software and next-generation firewalls, and keep your business data safe.
Providing Needed Flexibility
Companies operate in many different ways. Your provider should support you in the way that you work and not just in their business model. You need to find a partner that offers you flexibility. If you have IT staff members in place, they support them by taking on features, like network monitoring. If you do not have an IT team, they become yours. In either case, you use technology to enhance your business rather than technology negatively impacting yours. You become a SMB survivor.