Avoiding Common Small Business IT Setbacks

Small business managers are regularly faced with challenges. Sometimes these challenges are outside of the manager's skill set. Not all managers are versed in technical IT subjects, for example, but IT is vital to all businesses in many ways. After all, few businesses operate offline anymore. These are some problems and risks managers should be aware of.

Lack of IT Manpower and/or Expertise

We've all been there. That awkward moment when you realize you've spent months or years preparing for a job and you're already stumped on your first day at work. We shouldn't be too hard on ourselves in these situations and the managers who hired us shouldn't be too hard on us either. Sometimes we just need some guidance from someone who has a little more experience.

This is a benefit of outsourcing your IT manpower. An in-house IT team can access a remote team when they need to. Oftentimes, remote teams are nearby in case a manager needs them to visit. Managers can focus and specialize on the most common, but not the most technical, problems encountered in the workplace and leave the technical stuff to IT. The business's workforce is essentially adjustable when an outsourced team is on call.

Aging Hardware and Software

Having frequent freeze-ups or crashes? All equipment has a life cycle. You might be pushing your luck if you don't know when to replace things. For example, Windows 7 end of life is January 2020. In other words, Microsoft won't provide support for that product after that time. You won't be able to update the operating system, which could lead to all kind of software roadblocks.

Get a network assessment and upgrade the technologies that might hold you back in the near future. This is a case in which it's much more beneficial to be proactive than to be reactive.

Poor Communication

While traditional means of communication aren't going anywhere, instant messaging and collaboration applications are changing the way we share and store information. There are many advantages to using applications like Spark, Slack and Google Apps.

For one, IM and collaboration apps allow instantaneous conversations and the ability to find out if someone is online and available. Fewer interruptions during important tasks improves productivity, which is why it's nice to be able to set your availability for everyone to see. When you are available, you can have multiple conversations at once and reply to your teammates whenever you're ready. This reduces time spent simply waiting in meeting rooms or offices.

Another benefit of IM and collaboration is the level of organization you can achieve. The ability to store conversations and find them later by searching for words or phrases is convenient. We've all been in a situation where we can't remember something important that was said. Doing a quick search in a particular conversation often leads to answers. "Groups" are also an organizational advantage. It's easy to keep in touch with cross-functional team members by simply creating a group in Slack or other app. Everyone, for the most part, stays on the same page when they're all updated frequently in the right group.

No Data/Info Access Hierarchy or Phishing Training

60% of small businesses shut down within 6 months after a cyber attack.1 It's important to limit access to data and information in a methodical, sensible way while also ensuring everyone has what they need to do their job. In other words, give your employees access to everything they need but nothing they don't.  This is an important aspect of network security and one that isn't always easy to implement. Get help from an expert to secure you data.

In addition, your employees should know how to identify instances of phishing and other cyber attacks. Train them. In 2017, the majority of businesses said they experienced phishing attacks.2 Since employees usually cause the most vulnerability to businesses, they need to be vigilant and have the know-how to help you avoid catastrophe. Give them a helping hand in the form of phishing training.

A Quick Assessment

Now that you've read most of this page, how do you feel? Are you prepared or do you have work to do? If you feel overwhelmed, it's OK. You're not the only manager who is dealing with things he or she knows little about. Consider getting help from a local IT team. CP Networks helps DFW-area businesses capitalize on their core competencies by providing support on the IT side of things. Get in touch at 817-929-9675 when you need us.

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Sources:

1. Galvin, Joe. May 7, 2018. "60 Percent of Businesses Fold within 6 Months of a Cyber Attack. Here's How to Protect Yourself." Inc. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/joe-galvin/60-percent-of-small-businesses-fold-within-6-months-of-a-cyber-attack-heres-how-to-protect-yourself.html

2. August 22, 2018. "Must-Know Phishing Statistics 2018." Alert Logic. Retrieved from https://blog.alertlogic.com/must-know-phishing-statistics-2018/