So it's February already, how are your New Year's resolutions coming? No, I'm not talking about how much weight you've lost or how many days you've managed to floss in a row (but congratulations) - I'm talking about the resolutions and goals you've set for your small business for the upcoming year. More than half of small businesses make new years resolutions. The start of a new year is a natural time to look back over the previous one and plan for the next one. Did your last year go as well as you had hoped? What can you do to avoid the problems you faced in 2013 and maximize your opportunities in 2014?
Whether it be to contact customers more often, blog more frequently, focus more on social media, or launch a pending marketing campaign, small business owners have a lot on their minds. But somehow IT planning isn't ever on the radar. You rely on technology for your company to function, so why aren't you giving it the attention it deserves? There are easy and low-cost ways you can improve your whole IT infrastructure for the upcoming year, and it's never too late to get started.
If your goal is to grow your business, make more money, reach more customers, and manage your day-to-day operations with less hassle, IT is integral. Committing to small changes like these can make the next 12 months in the life of your small business your most successful yet.
4 IT Resolutions to Jumpstart Your New Year
1. Evaluate the State of Your Hardware
The average lifespan for a piece of IT hardware can be different depending on the type of hardware. Server hardware is typically 3-5 years where switches, routers and firewalls can be 4 - 7 years depending on the manufacturer continuing to support and update that device. Take the time to evaluate how old your hardware is, how well it is serving you, and how capable it will be of meeting your needs as you grow. Preemptive replacement is always less expensive and less disruptive than waiting until a piece of hardware breaks down. This is a perfect time to consider cloud based solutions for servers, storage and phone systems. Make sure that the IT tools your business relies on will last through the coming year.
2. Consider Your IT Support Network
Who provides you with IT support, and do they have the time and expertise required to continue serving you as your business grows? You have lots of options for support, and your existing consultant or provider may be holding you back more than you realize. Prepare for the inevitability of IT issues by surrounding yourself with a comprehensive support network.
3. Reinvest in Data Backup
IT problems come in many forms, but none is more consequential than the loss of crucial data. On the occasion of the New Year, reevaluate your system for backing up data. Do you have the storage space you need? Is your backup handled in an automatic and systematic way and are you routinely checking and testing this system? Have you considered the potential of cloud storage? Ensure that the data you produce throughout the year is stored safely in perpetuity.
4. Double Down on Data Security
The threat of hackers, viruses, and other malicious attacks on your IT infrastructure grows every year. Effective data security requires a proactive approach, and the start of the year is a great time to assess your level of protection. Regardless of the size of your business, you need to protect it with virus and malware protection, a modern firewall, password policies, and contentious employees. Remember that a single data breach can disrupt your business and push aching goals and milestones back as well as affect your bottom line for an entire year, or longer.
In order to get the most out of your IT, you need to constantly audit its effectiveness. In today's fast paced and technologically dependent world, effective technologies lose their utility more quickly than ever. Avoid expensive, time consuming, and confusing setbacks by planning for your future IT needs now. With the right partner, you can implement customized solutions for less money and with a minimum amount of confusion. To learn more about the long term value of an IT partnership, read our recent white paper, "The Small Business Guide to IT Outsourcing."