In a recent survey by Salesforce Research, 45% of small and medium-sized businesses say that scaling technology for growth is one of the critical factors they face. Yet when the time comes to implement technology, it may have an opposite impact if essential business decisions are not made, or when technology choices are poorly made.
Mistake No. 1: Not Understanding the Difference between a Reliable Backup Plan and a True Disaster Recovery Plan. According to the SEC, More than half of businesses who suffer data loss, a breach or ransomware attack are unable to recover following the event. Moving to the cloud provides security and reliability to sustain you even in an unforeseen crisis. Furthermore, 60 percent of companies that lose all or part of their data will shut down within six months of the incident, and 93 percent of companies that are unable to recover their data after ten days file for bankruptcy. At a minimum, a data backup plan is essential; however, a disaster recovery plan goes well beyond that, and the difference can save days, potentially weeks, in getting your business back up and operational. It can be the difference in your business being able to recover or not.
Mistake No. 2: Not Implementing the Backup or Disaster Recovery Plan, or not Testing the Plan After You Have One in Place. Most SMB's we speak with have a data backup plan in place. The majority of them do not have a disaster recovery plan in place. More than 70% of the prospective clients we speak with have never tried to recover data or recover systems and test those plans. If you don't go through the process of performing fire drills and testing those systems and plans, how can business leaders be confident they will work when they really depend on them for the business to recover?
Mistake No. 3: Thinking Cybersecurity Starts and Ends with Software and Hardware. Most cyber events are the result of human error. Many small business owners often don't deploy basic protection like dual-factor security in favor of ease of use. Further, they fail to train front line staff on the basics of "online street smarts" for things as simple as recognizing phishing emails, to more complex issues such as look-alike websites. In addition, bring your own device trends are part of the problem when these unsecured devices become part of the integral day to day operations of any business no matter what the size of the company. Some technology is intuitive and doesn't require much in-depth training. But the more powerful and far-reaching the tech, the more likely it will impact employees' day-to-day activities and require training. Fail to prepare your employees properly, and you'll fail to realize the full value of your investment until it's gone.
Mistake No. 4: No IT Strategy. Too Many Small Businesses Don't Take the Time to Adequately Plan Out an IT Strategy. They often spend more time researching buying a new car than using the same rigor when researching software critical to running their business. Business owners tend to make the mistake of thinking they can set it and forget it; that technology alone will grow their business. Technology is not a business plan, it supports a business plan. Understanding how technology works can save you money, make your employees more productive and protect you during times of disaster is critical. It would be best if you worked with someone like Adopt Technologies to help you plan and identify your IT infrastructure that will support your future growth.
Mistake No. 5: Failing to Fully Understand the Cloud. Confusion about the cloud is probably one of the biggest problems small and medium-sized business owners continue to make. Too often, they think of the cloud as some nebulous internet thing that doesn't have a lot of relevance to them, or they are afraid they don't understand fully how it works. If you've ever posted on Facebook or done your banking online, you've been working in the cloud.
Mistake No. 6: Going Cheap, Regardless of the Consequences. Good technology is expensive but should deliver great value and ROI. Choosing the wrong technology for your business can also be costly when owners learn they've purchased way more than they needed. Still worse is when companies buy on the cheap or try to cut corners. Too often, customers say they will update cheaply now and upgrade later when they really need it. The problem with that strategy is that converting from one system to another is very expensive and disruptive. Others will overspend and then cut corners elsewhere, which leads us to number 7.
Mistake No. 7: Using Under-Qualified People for IT Support. ACME construction recently spent $22,000 on hardware upgrades (half of which they didn't realize they don't need) because the owner's nephew, a sophomore studying computer science, works part-time at the construction company and he gave poor advice about purchases. Just because Johnnie can download and install software, it's foolish to assume he can manage the new IT infrastructure. Many small businesses fall into this trap and end up spending more money later to correct the mistakes of an under-qualified IT person. When working with a consultant like Adopt, you get a team of IT experts at your beck and call, 24/7-365.
Mistake No. 8: Overextending the Life Cycle of Technology. If that five-year-old PC used by the receptionist dies, it probably won't cripple your business. But that 10-year-old server, with half the upgrades installed and only 10 percent of the security patches deployed, could spell disaster. Most servers and PCs have a life cycle of 3 to 5 years, but the actual usable life depends on how heavy the equipment is used. If you have mission-critical hardware that is older than 3 to 5 years, start planning on replacing it now before the equipment falls. Better still, consider moving from a traditional server environment to the cloud on a platform like Adopt's with all the look and feel of your current desktop but accessed in the cloud, totally secure and with help available through our follow the sun support.
Mistake No. 9: Buying New Software While Skipping Hardware Upgrades. If Software publishers are famous for anything, it's offering releases that require significant hardware upgrades in order to run the new versions and/or announcing that they will no longer be supporting older versions of their software. Too often, small businesses buy new software without checking to see if the hardware meets the new requirements, often leading to business coming to a screeching halt while upgrades are made. If you must upgrade hardware, it's best to exceed the minimum standards for the new software by at least one to two levels to extend the replacement time frame. Worse than failing to plan for hardware upgrades is our number 7 mistake, pirated software.
Mistake No. 10: Using Pirated Software. We get it. Running a business is expensive. But you don't want the bad karma that comes from stealing. Many business owners wonder why they should purchase multiple licenses for the same software instead of using one copy for all their machines. That may have been the case in years past, but the ultra-sophisticated software of today makes it a losing bet. Some software developers are cracking down so hard that they can completely disable your software at the click of a button if they learn that multiple versions of the same software is being used, and worse, you could be fined upwards of $100,000 from the Business Software Alliance. Keep your licenses up to date or choose a software model that is scalable by the user, so you pay for what you need when you need it.
According to research giant Gartner, the cloud could be a game-changer for small businesses. All of the software you are used to using on your desktop is accessible from anywhere. Cloud applications can be browser-based, app-based or server-based - all hosted on servers that you do not have to own nor maintain that are housed in high-security data centers; therefore, the dependency on physical servers and hard drive storage capacity is eliminated. You no longer need staff to support and manage servers, run backups and install or manage software. Many software programs that used to cost hundreds of dollars are now available for cloud-based subscriptions for as little as a few dollars per month. Plus, with so many employees working remotely, running your business using a solution like Adopt Technologies makes sense. Plus our 24-hour help desk means your staff is supported even if they are working late into the evenings and on weekends. Many business owners spend too much time and effort, determining which cloud service will benefit them the most when a good IT consultant could make things so much easier for them. At Adopt, we are honest, and if we aren't the right solution for you, we promise to direct you to a provider who is.
Owning a business can be one of the most rewarding things a person can do. It can also be one of the most aggravating and frightening. It's rare to feel like anyone truly has your best interests at heart. In many cases, it's a real money grab, and savvy business owners can sense it. So when a service provider comes along who really does care about your best interests, it's best to grab them and hang on. We have a 99% client retention rate for a reason. Our relentless customer service and our honesty and commitment to speaking plainly instead of using tech jargon that only serves to confuse our clients is important. We know that you aren't hiring us to bring technology solutions to your business alone. You are hiring us to help you make your dreams come true by harnessing technology's power to get you there.