The internet has created a global marketplace and the ability to reach customers nationally and internationally. This has accelerated growth for many organisations and sprouted new businesses in established and cottage industries. For new start-ups, one of the biggest challenges is managing their IT systems.
This is not just limited to the computer hardware used in the office, but also the cloud applications, data storage, communications, network, websites and the cyber security and compliance implications of all of this.
Without control over the IT systems, it can be a challenge for many start-ups to get a satisfactory return on investment from the technology solutions they employ and benefit from the promise of flexible and scalable IT solutions, win new clients, manage work, take payments and grow.
Here we outline three key IT essentials that start-up business owners need ensure that their IT systems bring value to their business.
Have an IT strategy
Without having a clear picture of your IT assets, it is very easy to end up with a fragmented IT estate with multiple different systems and solutions. Without a clear understanding of what you have, how you can you ensure it is secure?
In such scenarios, legislation such as GDPR has further implications – How can you protect customer’s, employees and supplier’s sensitive data, if you don’t know where it is?
Moreover, if you don’t know what IT assets you have, how can you get value from it? Most cost savings and efficiencies promised by IT systems are underutilised because start-ups and small business owners don’t know or are not aware of how to use them fully.
The first thing you need to do is audit your existing IT so you know what you have; consolidate these systems where necessary (you may have redundant systems and applications); and then document your IT strategy based on your business objectives.
Small business owners need to be asking themselves, what do you need in the short, medium and long term to allow your business to grow, reach new markets and expand your team? Armed with this information, you can find the best and most cost effective solutions for your business and keep control of your IT spend.
Have an IT security policy
All businesses are susceptible to cyber-attacks and small businesses are particularly vulnerable since they don’t typically have sufficient defences in place. A breach or other IT incident can be very damaging for start-ups, destroying trust with customers and preventing sales.
Developing an IT security policy is the first step to implementing robust cyber security measures. In many instances a clear IT security policy (which all staff adhere to) can prevent many cyber-attacks. Security solutions such as anti-virus and firewalls are still required, but if everyone complies with your IT security policy, insider attacks such as phishing emails and social engineering threats can be averted.
Along with a robust IT strategy, your IT security policy will help ensure that any new IT systems are correctly integrated into the existing IT investment.
Get expert support
In a nascent business, it is not unusual for small business owners to wear many hats – you might need to be the chief operations manager, marketing director, and HR manager.
However, due to the ever developing technology landscape and the rapidly evolving cyber threats, IT can also be barrier to success.
A lack of scalable solution, with wrong systems, and the limitations of some IT services can actually prevent your business from successfully achieving its objectives.
That’s when professional support is required – an expert who can look at the ove1rall picture and identify the right solutions aligned with your business objectives.
What is required at this stage is someone a wide range of IT skills, covering the breadth and depth of the IT spectrum, to manage your entire IT estate, Employing an expert, such as an IT manager or support analyst at this point probably not an option as salary costs for this level of experience are likely to be prohibitively expensive.
As a result, many start-ups and small businesses turn to outsource partners for their support and services. Such companies can offer a comprehensive range of IT services including cloud, cyber security, IT service desk and business continuity, allowing your small business to gain access to a complete IT team at an affordable cost.