When starting your company, it’s wise to budget for unexpected expenses, however most entrepreneurs underestimate IT support costs.
By Todd Boutte
According to IDC, computer downtime can cost small businesses up to $427 per minute, and 80 percent of SMBs will experience IT failures this year.
Business owners don’t need to be IT experts to ensure their systems, software, and computers are working right. With the advent of the cloud, virtual IT support and the ease in keeping software and hardware up to date, IT has become easier than ever. At the same time, small businesses are saving significant money and time by getting IT right without having in-house IT expertise.
Below, find four simple, cost-effective ways that business owners can keep their technology up and running.
- Embrace the cloud: Expensive, power hungry servers taking up space in an office are no longer necessary for most businesses. Cloud service providers offer more reliable uptime at a lower cost, along with better security and support than any on-site option. Consider off-site file storage (OneDrive, Dropbox) and email service (Office 365, G-Suite). This allows a business to support email and access files from almost anywhere.
- Secure your systems: Setting up a secure foundation for a business is not as difficult as it may seem and requires only minor maintenance. This includes keeping anti-virus software updated, activating a firewall, establishing a secure Wi-Fi network, and making sure your company website is SSL protected. You should also change administrator passwords on hardware from time to time. This includes printers, internet cameras, and internet routers. We recommend creating passwords that are more than 8 characters in length with a combination of symbols and capital letters.
- Educate your colleagues: People are at the root of most IT issues, not the technologies. By establishing a culture of good “cyber-hygiene,” many security risks are minimized. Build this culture by mandating stronger passwords, reminding staff to not click links in emails, and ask for assistance in keeping software up-to-date.
- “Right-size” your IT support: Taking on a large contract with a managed service provider is not the only (or the best) option for a small business. Own what you can of the above items, and seek IT support that scales with your needs and budget. On-demand, subscription, and contract options that offer more flexibility are now available to help you create a stress-free IT culture for your growing business. EVAN® is an example of an on-demand IT support solution that guarantees immediate access to IT support.
“Right-sizing” will continue to be critical as the number of connected devices used to run businesses soars. Many IT managed service providers will command fees in the thousands of dollars and prefer larger clients with steady revenue streams. This leaves small and midsized business stuck with support from independent personnel who may have limited knowledge or do not keep up with the latest and most cost-effective technology. This only causes more IT failures, making businesses even more vulnerable to cyber threats and computer downtime.
The biggest opportunity is realizing that IT support no longer requires someone to be on site, especially when companies have all their software running in the cloud. A recent Gartner study revealed that 99 percent or more of end-user computing issues can be solved remotely.
The good news is true on-demand support for the entire computing environment is becoming available. On-demand IT companies have the ability to challenge the status quo by being available 24/7, offering “per use” service pricing and being ready to explain solutions without complicated jargon. With an IT support system that stays out of the way, business owners are free to get back to focusing on their entrepreneurial goals.
Todd Boutte is the president of technology and operations at EVAN®. @evanyourITguy
IT support stock photo by nd3000/Shutterstock