In an age when almost everything is going digital or online, making your machines work for you has become a top priority. And if you're running a business from home, there's a good chance you'll have to try and solve most of your problems yourself. But by being aware of – and preparing for – some of the most common IT issues for small businesses, you can hopefully save yourself time, money and headaches.
According to the Federation of Small Businesses, only 15% of small firms are ‘very satisfied’ with their broadband. And while sending e-mails and text documents doesn't usually demand a great deal of speed, a slow connection can really hamper your productivity when it comes to video conferences or exchanging bulky files. Even worse, a broadband connection that has a tendency to drop off could leave you unable to respond to a simple e-mail at a key moment.
It's not just about viruses and malware that could corrupt your devices and leave your business unable to function. There's usually a lot of highly sensitive data involved in any type of business. So you need to be able to protect both your clients' data and your own. Aside from the usual anti-virus software, you ought to make sure you and any employees are properly educated:
While you're at it, don't forget the importance of physical security: your home is also your office, so make sure you keep it secure and have the right insurance for your office equipment .
A home office with all the latest tech may be your dream, but what happens when you need to make urgent changes to a contract while you're picking up the kids or out for lunch? Luckily, there's a huge range of capable apps for most smartphone and tablet operating systems. And thanks to file-sharing services such as DropBox, you can have nomadic access to all of your most important files. Just be aware: just as you’ve secured your data at home, you need to make sure that any data stored on your mobile devices is properly protected as well.
Many home-business owners are one-man bands. And that means that you'll always be limited by what one person can achieve in a day. So don't spend your precious time performing simple, repetitive tasks. Put the available technology to good use. Sync your social media accounts so you don't need to post the same marketing materials multiple times, and use cloud-based services to automatically back up your important files.
There are also apps to automatically synchronise your desktop and mobile calendars, as well as ones that create new phone contacts just by taking a photo of a business card. Remember, the less time you spend on fiddly little tasks, the more time you have to concentrate on moving your business forward.
Regardless of the nature of your enterprise, you're likely to come up against IT problems that either suck up your time or heavily distract you from your core business. So don't be afraid to get help: hiring a professional IT expert who can make concrete improvements to your processes and your infrastructure could end up paying for itself in the long run.