man providing IT support

The small business owner’s 5-part guide to technology

Technology isn’t just important for business – it’s quite possibly the most important part of a company’s day-to-day operations. And that’s because technology equates to efficiency.

The right IT service or solution can streamline your processes and save you time and money as a result. It can simplify complicated, tedious tasks and give you the opportunity to focus on more important things (like revenue). It can also help you stay better connected to your customers and even to your employees. But best of all, technology is almost limitless.

1. Invest in scalable technology.

As an SMB owner, you’re likely thinking long-term when it comes to the success of your business. But are you remembering those long-term goals when choosing your technology?

When making their initial technology investments, new business owners are quick to settle for “good enough.” This is because they’re in a hurry to get started, and they need to hit the ground running. As a result, they choose whatever technology solutions are the cheapest, most accessible, and easiest to implement.

The technology these companies end up with may work well for the first few years, but what happens if one of those companies grows from five employees to 30+ employees three years down the road?

Since that business didn’t invest in scalable technology from the start, they’ll either be forced to suffer from inefficiency or make the jump and invest in new technology again.

This isn’t to say that all of your technology should last a decade. Obviously, a lot of your hardware and software will need upgrading every few years. But your overall infrastructure should be scalable, which means you should spend a considerable amount of time researching IT solutions, seeking expert advice, and staying flexible.

It’s important to think about your business in the long-term, so you don’t get stuck when sales suddenly grow faster than you anticipated.

Group using devices

2. Understand your technology.

Small business owners generally wear a lot of hats. You may not have a dedicated IT department (or any IT department at all). You may even be a one-person operation. That’s why this next step is absolutely crucial:

To really utilize your technology, you need to understand it. That doesn’t mean you have to be an IT guru, but it does mean you should know what your hardware and software have to offer and how to fix common issues when things go wrong. State-of-the-art technology is practically useless if you have no idea what it does or how to use it.

You may not feel like you have enough time in the day to complete all of your tasks (and that may actually be true). But you shouldn’t skimp on this one. Take the time to learn what your technology does, and it will pay off in the long run.

3. Work with an MSP.

Since you’re not an IT expert, you should consider consulting someone who is. After all, technology is expensive, and you need someone to make sure you’re buying the best solutions for your company. You also need to make sure you’re using those solutions efficiently so your company can grow. This is where a managed service provider (MSP) can come in handy.

An MSP works as a business consultant and IT staff, all rolled into one. A good MSP should be able to work around your schedule, answer all your technical questions, and be available when you need them.

4. Protect your technology from threats.

Even with the best technology, your business is still open to threats if you don’t have protection. Firewalls and antivirus software are just the basics, but today’s cyber threats are much savvier than when the internet first started.

Hackers, cybercriminals, and malware up their game every day, and because of this, CSO Online estimates that cyber threats will cost roughly $6 trillion annually by 2021. So what can you do?

Make sure you know the threats you’re facing and implement the security you need to fight them.

5. Use the cloud.

At this point, you may be wondering “Sure, it sounds great, but how much will all of this cost me?” Here’s the good news: maybe not as much as you think.

You’re likely imagining all of your IT solutions as physical items in your office, but that’s not necessarily the case. Cloud computing is a modern technology that has completely changed the way businesses work with technology.

So what is it?

Basically, it’s a way to store, manage, and utilize all of your technology via the internet, rather than in-house. Cloud computing usually saves companies tons of money, while also helping them stay mobile, secure, and efficient.

For many SMBs, the cloud is essential to scalable growth on a budget. In fact, a 2017 survey estimates that 80 percent of businesses will be focused on cloud solutions by early 2019.

Final thoughts

Implementing a new technology infrastructure can be intimidating, especially if you’re not tech-savvy. However, it doesn’t have to be a difficult process. If you find yourself with more questions than answers, consider hiring an MSP to guide you in the right direction. They can help you find the best IT solutions at the best price, so your company (and revenue) is free to grow.