Small businesses are indeed the heart and soul of the economy, accounting for 99.7% of all employer firms in the U.S. Although running a small business is challenging, achieving success and growth is highly rewarding and benefits both you and your employees.
To help you meet your goals, employees need reliable tools. Old or poorly functioning computers and mobile devices, out-of-date software and slow Internet service are barriers to productivity. Think about inadequate tech like eating soup with a fork. It’s doable, but terribly inefficient.
Taking the time to assess the technology used in your company, and making necessary replacements or upgrades, can save you money in the long run and improve your bottom line.
Are Your Computers and Mobile Devices Keeping Up?
New equipment is simply more reliable, which saves time and keeps employees working. Plus, you’ll experience lower maintenance costs because equipment works as it should.
As you review your company’s computers and devices, consider whether upgrading or replacing them will help you and your employees achieve business goals. If so, budget for those expenses and plan to make purchases as soon as possible. If you find an expense isn’t necessary today, such as a computer that’s four or five years old but still functioning well, assess again in six months.
While evaluating new technology, consider the Chromebook for Business. These low-cost laptops are designed to work with Google G Suite (with compatibility for Microsoft Office files), boot quickly and are designed with security in mind.
Another option – which is a great way to save money – is Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Invite employees to use their own laptops and mobiles as long as they agree to keep antivirus software up to date and back up business data regularly. Many companies create an acceptable use policy just for this purpose, and require each employee who wants to use their own equipment to sign the policy as a measure of due diligence.
Is Your Software Current, or Close?
Staying on top of new versions of software can be expensive and timely, so many small businesses run their current versions as long as possible. But the latest versions often come with new features that help users spend their time more constructively, resulting in more work completed in less time.
One option is to switch to Microsoft Office 365 on a subscription plan. By paying a monthly or annual fee per user, you’ll always have the latest version as well as any extras that come with that plan. Plus, you can store files in the cloud and not have to worry about backups – Microsoft takes care of it for you.
Regardless of whether you’re running desktop software or a cloud-based suite, make sure you’re using all the features you’re paying for.
Do You Need to Upgrade Your Internet Service?
A fast Internet connection can help a business grow and thrive. The opposite is true when Internet speeds are consistently slow.
How much time do your employees lose waiting for webpages to open, email attachments to download and the like? Is it an everyday event? Multiple times each day? Consider the cost of wasted time versus the added expense of a better, faster Internet plan.
Another consideration is business VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol. Many small businesses have saved money by switching from landlines to VoIP, but it requires a high-speed Internet connection.
If your company has spotty Internet service or if it’s regularly sluggish, evaluate how much speed your business needs today, and the types of technologies you might want to run in the near future.
Do You Have Adequate Tech Support?
As important as newer, better technology is to improving your business, having tech support ready to help you through a major or minor disaster is critical. When you need assistance, you need it “now.”
Do you have remote support available for software and hardware? What if you need someone to come to your office? To make sure you’re covered, strike up a relationship with a local tech support company.
Contact them every six months or so to find out if they’ve added services, to verify their average response time and whether they’re available 24/7, and to confirm pricing. Regular check-ins ensure they will know you and your company’s needs, and be ready when the need arises.
It’s a balancing act for small businesses to stay within budget while providing adequate resources for employees, and regular IT assessments can help. They help you determine which items you really need to buy now and those that can wait until the next budgeting cycle.