It’s 2020, we’re firmly in the digital age, and you’d struggle to find a company who doesn’t rely on any tech! As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, more and more small businesses are finding themselves in need of an IT provider.
Small businesses face a unique set of challenges when it comes to IT. They are often at high risk of cyber attacks but lack the resources to combat these attacks effectively on their own. They are also faced with fierce competition from the other small businesses in their industry. Handling all of this and more without the help of trained experts can leave small businesses vulnerable to a whole host of problems. Having an IT provider has become a necessity for small businesses in the digital age, not just for businesses that want to thrive, but to ensure they survive. Let’s take a deeper look at why small businesses can’t afford not to have an IT provider in 2020.
Why Having an IT Provider Is Critical For Small Businesses
Downtime Costs Money
IT systems aren’t perfect. Although IT systems have advanced over the decades, outages are still frustratingly common. It could be a data breach, infrastructure failure, an issue with third-party software, or any other technical failure that renders your systems inoperative. When IT systems go down, businesses lose money because they can’t operate effectively. According to Gartner, the average cost of IT downtime is $5,600 per minute. Of course, these stats are a little skewed by the giant enterprises that stand to lose millions of dollars due to downtime. However, downtime still comes at a significant cost for small businesses. Just because it won’t cost you $150,000 an hour, doesn’t mean you want to pay the cost.
It’s not just in the loss of operational time that outages cost small businesses, but also in productivity. Outages interrupt the workday and shift employees’ focus to other tasks. An employee may stop what they’re doing to scramble for a solution to the problem, even if they are not skilled in this area. It’s estimated that a staggering 545 hours of employee productivity are lost annually due to IT downtime.
With an IT provider, there’s a dedicated team of skilled IT professionals available to tackle these issues as soon as they arise. This significantly reduces IT downtime so the business can get up and running swiftly.
So, we’ve addressed two of the reasons that solving outages quickly is important, but there’s actually a third reason that’s often missed. Outages can harm your reputation and the longer the outage, the greater the harm. If a customer can’t access your site or other systems for an extended period, they will start to question your credibility and look elsewhere. The same is true for investors. Investors will be wary of dealing with a business that is put out of action for a significant amount of time. In the world of IT, “significant” can mean a matter of hours to days.
Having an IT provider signals to the world that you’re cognizant of these issues and have prepared yourself to face them.
A Serious Cyber Breach Can End a Small Business
Cyber attacks are on the rise, and hackers don’t care what size your business is. If you follow tech news, it appears that only large businesses with huge databases of sensitive information get targeted for cyber attacks. This is simply false. The colossal data breaches get a lot of coverage because they’re, well, colossal. However, the stark reality is that almost half (43%) of all cyberattacks target small businesses.
Cyberattacks can have dire consequences for small businesses. In fact, around 60% of small businesses fold within 6 months of being hacked! Even if it doesn’t end a small business, it can have long lasting consequences, both financially and for its reputation. With such high stakes, small businesses must be proactive in reducing the risk of successful cyber attacks.
A managed IT provider can be invaluable when it comes to ensuring your systems are well protected, meet security compliance, and adhere to cybersecurity best practices. This will make your small business significantly less likely to fall victim to a cyber-attack than a comparable company with no IT provider.
Costs are always a top concern for small businesses. When it comes to IT, making the wrong choices for your IT systems and devices can have huge consequences in the form of faulty equipment, cybersecurity vulnerabilities, and increased downtime. Equally, picking the right technology can work to your benefit, granting you highly secure systems that have longevity and enable you to work optimally. This is what IT providers are experts at. They can tailor your IT setup for your business and ensure you’re getting exactly what you need for the best cost.
It Gives You a Competitive Edge
Competition can be fierce for small businesses. Whatever you’re offering, you can be confident that someone else is probably offering it too. This has always been an issue for small businesses, but it’s on a whole other scale in the digital age. The small businesses of today have access to sleek looking websites that rival big companies, and entire suites of cutting edge software all at an affordable price. This is great for small businesses, but it can also make it difficult to stand out from the competition.
Having an IT provider that expertly handles all of your IT needs can give you a competitive edge. You have access to tech experts who know how to manage your systems to take your business to the next level.
How to Pick the Right IT Provider
So, you’ve decided to opt for an IT provider to handle your IT support needs, what next? You need to pick your provider! Although this sounds simple, there are several factors you need to consider when picking an IT provider. IT support is such a critical part of businesses of all sizes that so making the right decision is paramount. Let’s take a look at some tips on how to pick the right provider.
Identify What You Need
What you need from an IT service provider can vary greatly depending on the nature of your business. Sit down and think about what you need from an IT provider. Do you need server and network management? What about data storage? Backups? Disaster recovery? Communication solutions? Decide on what are “must-haves” and as well as services you might want in the future.
If you have no idea what you need, then you’ll benefit from having an IT consultation. This involves a third-party company analyzing your IT function and highlighting any areas that need improvement.
How Does the Provider Handle Scaling?
You may be a small business now, but that doesn’t mean you will be in the future. Make sure you pick a provider that can match your rate of growth or your predicted rate of growth. You want a provider who can scale up their support as your business scales up. This ensures your business will always remain safe, secure, and competitive no matter your size.
Are They Flexible?
Flexibility will be more important to some businesses than others, but it’s worth considering either way. By flexibility, we mean how they accommodate your specific needs. Do they offer a payment structure that you’re happy with? Do they allow you to mix and match which services you want without forcing you to pick services you don’t want? Can they support your IT function if you decide to expand into new areas or is this outside of their expertise?
Know What to Expect
This is likely something you will hash out when agreeing on the contract, but it’s still important to approach an IT provider armed with your expectations. How quickly can they fix broken equipment? How quickly do you expect equipment to be fixed? Does the provider specialize in repairing certain products or are they proficient in lots of products? How do you want to contact the provider when you need them? How quickly do you expect a response? These are all questions you should be considering when picking a provider.
Finding the right IT provider can be challenging, but it’s a necessity for small businesses in the digital age. With cyber-attacks on the rise and hackers becoming more sophisticated in their techniques, small businesses who don’t take their IT seriously are putting themselves at grave risk of an attack. Cyber-attacks shake small businesses in ways they often can’t recover from. In the most extreme cases, the business will be forced to close indefinitely. This is the most severe consequence of a serious cyberattack, but it’s also a depressingly common reality for small businesses.
When small businesses aren’t arming themselves against nefarious hackers, they are pushing forward in their field. Having an IT provider grants small businesses access to some of the leading minds in tech and ensures their business is getting everything it needs to thrive.
Still have questions?
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