It’s impossible to overstate the importance of small businesses. Small businesses support local economies across the county. From job creation to generating revenue, small businesses are invaluable. But the problem is, small businesses typically focus energy, time and resources on running their businesses and don’t have the time or energy to monitor their daily technology needs, changes innovations and threats. This can lead to a variety of problems for any organization, no matter the size.
Here are the top 5 mistakes we see being made by small businesses and our advice on how to avoid them.
Mistake 1: Weak Tech Support
Small businesses may have one quasi support technician who they can sometimes rely on for minor issues. Oftentimes, these consultants are moonlighting or providing this service on the side. Or, they make the mistake of using big box electronic stores who technicians are inexperienced or in the process of learning the business. This can cause a variety of problems for small businesses, including but not limited to unexpected downtime, unreliable applications and slow response times, just to name a few.
You wouldn’t hire a car mechanic to repair your roof, nor would you hire a roofer to fix your plumbing. The same concept should be applied to your IT. By hiring a professional, you’ll work with someone who possesses significant experience and knowledge. As a result, your issues will be resolved faster and done right the first time. Another advantage is that the more they serve your organization, they’ll start to gain an appreciation for your business and possess the ability to help you make strategic decisions on future IT investments. It should also be pointed out that a professional technician could also complement existing “quasi support” staff.
Mistake 2: You Have Old, Inconsistent Hardware
Would you board a plane that was 3 years past its maintenance cycle? The same thing could be said about your computer and servers. You know, the device you use on a daily basis. The mother ship of all your files, photos, contacts and everything else under the sun! Old hardware and software will often lack security updates because the vendors who had built the software or hardware no longer are producing or supporting old systems. Ancient software lacks the appropriate patching to prevent popular hacks from breaching your network.
By working with a reputable technology vendor (like Louisville Geek), we ensure your organization deploys consistent, high-quality hardware and software to maximize your technology investments. The old saying “you get what you pay for” certainly applies for organizations of all sizes when it comes to investing in technology.
Mistake 3: Inadequate Power Protection
This is something a lot of small business overlook but ignoring the role that power protection plays in the lifespan of your hardware can be a costly mistake. Small, yet consistent power surges and brownouts can have a big impact on any technology device’s lifespan. The quality of your surge suppressors is something to consider because they have the tendency to wear out over time. It should also be noted that common power strips provide no protection whatsoever.
We encourage small businesses to deploy high-quality surge suppressors for all computer equipment. These surge suppressors should be replaced every 2-3 years and identify locations within your office where battery backups with line conditioning are a better match for protecting critical equipment.
Mistake 4: Undocumented Software
While it may seem obvious to some, many businesses don’t realize they don’t “own” their software; instead, they license it. Some businesses are using “borrowed” software that their nephew installed 3 years ago. In 2016, the BSA reported that 22% of North American software is unlicensed. Having undocumented software opens up a multitude of risks.
One of our clients uses QuickBooks to manage their accounting. A couple months ago, their CFO needed a new PC. The CFO brought the old PC to our office and asked us to transfer all of the files and programs to the new PC.
Make it look and feel the same. No problem.
During the migration, our technicians were prompted to enter in the license code for Intuit QuickBooks, so we called our client to ask them for that information. Nobody in the company had the license key. They called Intuit in an attempt to retain it but there was no license key on record. We were finally able to work with the client and Intuit to migrate their data but what should’ve been a minor task ended up taking weeks to resolve.
When it comes to software, there are no shortcuts. You should only purchase software from reputable vendors and we always recommend storing product keys, certificates of authenticity, licenses and original installation media in a single, easily accessible location.
Mistake 5 Weak Security
Many small businesses think that because they are small, they have the ability to fly under hackers’ radar. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, it could be argued that hackers place more of an emphasis on targeting small businesses because they lack the resources to defend against breaches. According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, 60 percent of small businesses are forced to close their doors less than six months after a cyber-attack.
The first step is recognizing that, no matter how small your business is, you’re a target. Louisville Geek offers a variety of cyber-security tools to prevent data breaches. We also offer security awareness training packages.