For too many small businesses, IT exists as an abstract concept. It is a vague combination of computers, servers and software that are important for getting business done, but are rarely a business concern. This attitude is understandable, but it is also risky. IT is more than just a one-time expense, it is a living breathing ecosystem that needs constant attention.
No matter what kind of business you run, or how advanced the technology you use, your small business relies on its IT to store your company data files, do business over the Internet, run equipment and protect you from the threat of viruses. If any one of these capabilities was suddenly disabled, imagine the impact it would have on your business. You could lose a day's revenue or progress on an experiment, have to deal with irate customers, or have to pay for expensive computer system repairs that could have been avoided.
That is why it is better to think of IT as an investment rather than a cost. The money you spend on technology and support pays dividends in the long run. Conversely, the money you elect not to spend could be a lot less than what you end up paying when problems arise. Below are three real-world examples of IT helping a small business make more money.
A Small Biotech Firm Gets a Huge New Round of Investment Funding
After running a bare bones operation trying to prove their concept, a small biotech firm has had a breakthrough and secured a major new round of funding. In order to meet their investor's expectations, they will now need exponentially more storage space and processing power.
The founders of the company turn to their IT service provider, with whom they developed a relationship with in the early days, to help them identify cloud storage and virtualization solutions that will allow them to scale up their IT infrastructure at a fixed cost. Their IT partner helps them quantify their new needs, identify the right cloud solutions, and address the concerns that go along with a larger IT infrastructure. The transition is fast, efficient, and cost-effective, and the new technologies are in place as soon as the funding is available.
A Small Retailer Gets Targeted by a Computer Hacker
A small retailer reads a news report that computer hackers are targeting small and mid-sized businesses that have lax data security measures in place. Several businesses have lost sensitive information and are facing lawsuits and waves of negative publicity.
The retailer contacts its IT service provider to learn more about the protective measures they can offer. The IT technicians are familiar with the threat and the IT systems that the retailer has in place. They install a new firewall and advanced anti-virus protections, and lead a training session showing all employees the best practices for data security. They also set up an off-site monitoring program to identify suspicious activity and take action before a larger problem exists. The cost of the security is within the retaliers budget, and the retailer sleeps better knowing he has taken proactive measures in regards to his IT security.
A Small General Contractor Gets Hit by a Storm
A major storm passes through a small town and damages the roof of a small general contractor's office. Water and debris pour in, and all of the computers are destroyed.
The contractor contracts his IT service provider for support. The IT company is able to quickly assess the damage and recommend a short- and long-term plan for getting the computers running again. Since all of his client contacts, inventory information and blueprints are safely backed up elsewhere, he can access the data from his home computer and continue to serve clients. When the new computers arrive, the IT company is on-site to hook everything up correctly, answer questions, and troubleshoot problems. The office went through a disaster, but the business survives.
If none of these scenarios applies to you, think about how you use IT, and what the consequences would be without it. When the good, the bad, and the unexpected happen, you need your IT to be able to seamlessly adapt to serve the needs of your business. That is why an investment in IT, and in the right IT partner, is both a prudent and fiscally responsible business measure. To learn more about the important relationship between small business and IT, read our white paper, “The Small Business Guide to IT Outsourcing.”