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One of the goals common to nearly all small businesses is to grow. Challenges come with growth, especially when it comes to technology. The fiscal limitations of small business owners present unique opportunities to find affordable solutions to often costly services. Security, communication, marketing, data storage and the need for a managed service provider are common issues companies run into.
Security: A Lock and Key Just Doesn’t Cut It in the Digital Age
Security is one of the biggest IT hurdles for businesses. Keeping confidential information safe is of the utmost priority, especially for medical providers who are subject to federal privacy regulations. They must be able to manage, encrypt and backup files on a regular basis. It’s an ongoing job, too, because sensitive data is always at the risk of malware, hacking attempts and human error. Hiring a fulltime security specialist can be costly, but contracting services can be a more affordable alternative.
The Art of Simplifying Communication
Small and mid-sized businesses often have piecemeal communication systems. The phone, email, messaging and document management systems are not as seamlessly connected as they should be. Combining these elements can save employees time, and that means saving money. For example, forwarding voicemail to email inboxes saves time that would be spent listening to messages. There’s no need to invest in yet another costly system to integrate communication; this can be accomplished using cloud services.
Marketing: Because Products Don’t Literally Sell Themselves
Marketing is a necessity and can be an expensive one at that. Online marketing has leveled the playing field somewhat, making marketing more affordable than ever. It’s also more targeted. Businesses can hire someone to handle their online marketing efforts (expensive) or learn to do it themselves. The person in charge of online marketing campaigns will need to learn how to optimize sites for both the users and the search engines, how to engage an audience without seeming pushy and how to be personable while still being professional.
Businessweek identifies social media, email newsletters and regular promotions as viable marketing channels SMBs should leverage for business development.
Give Me Some Space
Small businesses inevitably hit a wall when it comes to their data storage needs. The time comes when many have to decide whether a dedicated server is worthwhile or not. Dedicated servers are costly, and dedicated server rooms take up valuable space, especially for small businesses. Rather than opting for an expensive dedicated server, small businesses may want to first utilize virtual servers and cloud storage for their website and data storage needs. By leveraging more flexible technology, SMBs can free up physical space and enjoy considerable cost savings in the process.
Nerds on Call
A managed service provider (MSP) is an affordable alternative to having an in-house IT team. These providers can handle many of the issues already mentioned. They are often responsible for monitoring, managing and troubleshooting computers and other forms of business technology. Typical services include backup and recovery, security, alerts and maintenance. By using this kind of service, small business owners can focus on running the business without worrying about interruptions due to technical issues.
SMBs can contract the services of an MSP on a subscription basis. Subscription prices vary depending on the number of devices and other factors. A consultation is highly recommended because it will provide an assessment of existing IT needs to help the business owner determine the level of services required.
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