19 Jul Strategic Technology Decisions Every Small Business Should Make
No matter if you are starting a new business or have been in business for a while, there are three technology-related decisions you should make now and review annually. These decisions directly affect your business’ financial health, security and productivity.
Computer/Tablets/Hardware – Most hardware manufacturers offer both a consumer and a business class line of computers. Computers built for general retail sale may be readily available at your local technology store, but these machines rarely come built with the types of memory, power supply or video cards needed for most business applications. These machines seldom have business appropriate software and warranties. Skip the price break on retail hardware solutions and pay a bit more for business class systems. The warranties alone are worth the extra investment for equipment that can get the job done for longer periods of time.
Security – While you’re choosing your computer system make critical security decisions before your business venture becomes a cybercrime victim. Plan to install a firewall. This applies even if you are a one-person operation working out of your basement. A firewall is a small device that sits between the Internet provider and your internal network (or your laptop). Firewalls are inexpensive and are the best frontline defense against hackers. Statistics illustrate that 1 in 5 small businesses fall victim to cybercrime each year. Furthermore 60% of small businesses that are victims of cybercrime go out of business within 6 months of the attack. Money spent now on security pays off in the long run.
Secondly, plan to purchase your own WPA (WiFi-Fi Protected Access) secured wireless device. Why, you may ask, if my internet service provides “always on” WiFi service? Many internet providers now have WiFi service enabled by default when you purchase internet service. This feature potentially opens your network (computer) to anyone who may want to connect to take advantage of your “free” internet, hack into your computer or steal your data. Review your Internet provider’s offerings. If you have this feature, consider having an IT firm disable it to protect your network.
Printers/Scanners and all the Toys – You will need to print something. But do you really need to fax, scan and have the machine make your coffee?
Feature laden equipment rarely works the way you want. Yes, multi-function units can scan, fax and print. But think about what happens when the multifunction device stops working. If it breaks you lose three critical pieces of equipment as opposed to just one. Pay for a good business class laser printer and a flatbed scanner. Skip the fax machine all together. With the advent of email there really is no need for a fax machine anymore. If you do need to fax, opt for an internet based fax service.
Some of this technology may seem overwhelming to the novice. Consider seeking out an IT provider you trust to assist with these decisions. An investment in appropriate, secure IT now may save you a lot of money and time in the future.