By JT Ripton

It’s tough to thrive as a small business. You have to face the competition and an ever shifting economic landscape. Having the right technology and managing it well can contribute greatly to the success of your business. Don’t make any of the following mistakes.

1. Using Outdated Technology
In a list of top tech mistakes made by small business, says, “Retaining PCs longer than three or four years often results in repair and support costs that meet or exceed the price of new systems.” Yes, it seems like a hassle to replace your computers and you might miss that quirky little scratch on your keyboard from the time you accidentally dropped it, but keeping your system up to date will keep costs down and your business more efficient.

However, even while you bear in mind the value of staying up to date with your tech, don’t go overboard. Don’t invest in new computers or other technology without doing thorough research on the products, and don’t think you always need to have the latest model of everything.

2. Using Insufficient Security
You also want to avoid the mistake of letting your technology security become obsolete or expired (if only to get rid of that annoying message that pops up every day telling you that you need to renew your virus protection software). If a virus gets into your system, you’ll spend thousands of dollars and many hours trying to remedy the situation.

Security involves more than protecting against bugs, however. You must take steps to guard against hackers and thieves. Use strong passwords and encryption to protect sensitive information. If you take your business on the go, be cautious when using public Wi-Fi (click here to learn how to use public Wi-Fi safely).

Don’t let security stop at your computers. Also make sure that your mobile devices — and those of your employees — have protection against threats.

3. Using Inadequate Internet
Glaring at your computer screen and swearing under your breath won’t impel that webpage to load any faster. It’s tempting to save a little money by subscribing to an Internet service with slower speeds or one that doesn’t really have enough bandwidth to meet the needs of your business. However, a slow or unreliable connection will cost you in terms of efficiency. You have a lot to do, and a sluggish connection is only going to cause you frustration. Look into high-speed options. Verizon service is widely available and is able to meet the needs of small businesses.

4. Not Backing Up Data
All it takes is one bug and one incident to unravel thousands of hours of work. Fortunately, if you haven’t been backing up your business’s data like you should, this is an easy fix. Subscribe to an automated backup program that regularly backs up all your important files. Keep in mind, too, that while storing information in the cloud does give you a kind of safety net, human error on the part of cloud services could still end up costing you data.

5. Failing at Social Media
Another one of the common mistakes made by businesses — whether small or large — is a failure to use social media in a way that boosts business. Do you have a social media marketing strategy in place? If so, kudos. If not, slap yourself on the wrist and hop to it. A good social media marketing strategy helps you connect with potential customers in a way that traditional advertising never could. It gives valuable content to your audience and gives your business greater visibility.

Of course, even if you use social media to promote your business, you still might use it in the wrong way. If you say one thing that your audience takes as offensive, you’ll spend a lot of effort trying to make amends. Be aware of what is on the minds of your audience and don’t make light of serious issues in the news.

Without a doubt, your business needs technology to succeed, but are you using the right technology and in the right way? Avoiding the above mistakes can give your business an edge and help you stay competitive.

JT Ripton is a freelance writer out of Tampa, who focuses on topics relating to business and technology. Follow him at @JTRipton.

Image via Flickr by Hanan Cohen