Technology is more affordable and accessible than it’s ever been. Whatever you need is only a few clicks away, whether it’s a product or a service.
But there are still many small businesses that cheap out on their technology and IT solutions. They just don’t want to commit to quality hardware, software, security or backups – the list goes on. They go for the cheapest solutions, which often means they spend nothing at all. They don’t commit to reliable security or current software. They’re setting themselves, and their customers, up for disaster.
The question is, are you setting your own business up for disaster? Here are four HUGE mistakes you should do everything to avoid.
MISTAKE #1: You aren’t backing up data. As convenient as it is to have all of your business’s information in one place, such as a single local server or even a desktop PC, you’re toast if anything happens to that hardware. For one, if you’re lacking in IT security, you’re making a cybercriminal’s job easier. And two, if that hardware fails (as hardware eventually does; there’s no way around this), you’re left scrambling to recover that data and hoping it’s still accessible.
You should never risk your business like this, considering how easy it is to back up your business’s data. You can back up data on-site, get a cloud-based service or you can do both. The point is, you need to back up everything so you’re ready should anything go wrong.
Once you have a solution, you can customize how your data is backed up. Do you need to back up data every day? Once a week? Once a month? It’s up to you. Here’s another thing to remember: your backup system isn’t “set it and forget it.” You need to check on it regularly and keep it updated to ensure your data is safe and ready to go should you need it
MISTAKE #2: You aren’t keeping up with the times. Speaking of keeping things updated, you should always update your software. Developers are constantly fixing bugs, patching software and improving usability. Skipping updates can leave you vulnerable.
Earlier this year, Cisco’s Series 1001-X router was found to have a fatal flaw that opened it up to hackers. This flaw potentially gave hackers network access – and access to connected devices. This isn’t the first router to have this kind of flaw and it won’t be the last. Cisco pushed out an update to fix the flaw, but the update is useless if you don’t install it.
Updates don’t just apply to software; they apply to hardware as well. When you’re running old hardware, that hardware is more likely to fail. It’s already been put through its paces. Over time, hardware performance degrades. Plus, the older your hardware is, the less compatible it is with current software. You don’t have to invest in new hardware every year or two, but keeping up with the times keeps you on top of your game.
MISTAKE #3: You don’t train your team. While most businesses hire people who understand certain software products, you can’t assume they know everything about that software. Your business might use a certain CRM application in a very specific way. Proper training on your systems ensures everyone is on the same page – and that they are using the software to its (and their) greatest potential.
More than software training, your team also needs to be trained up on IT security. They need to know the risks and how to keep your business’s data secure. Never assume your team knows about the latest threats to small business – or that they even understand the basics of safe web browsing.
While you need to have IT security in place and protecting your network, servers, PCs and so on, you need to make sure your team understands that security and the threats that are out there. Your team should also be aware of the consequences if any data becomes compromised.
MISTAKE #4: You skip data security. Data breaches happen every day, and most of them go unreported. You only hear about the biggest breaches on TV or online. While major companies like Target or Facebook can more easily recover from a data breach (as they have a lot of money to throw at the problem), most small businesses can’t.
If you’re lacking in IT security, you’re putting sensitive data at risk. This is proprietary business data as well as the personal and financial records of your customers. It can mean the end of your business if credit card numbers, names, addresses or phone numbers fall into the wrong hands.
Customers will no longer trust you. Your own employees likely won’t trust you either, especially if their personal data is on the line, not to mention their reputation. When you skimp on IT security, you’re about one step away from handing hackers and cybercriminals all the data you should be keeping under digital lock and key. When you invest in a solid IT security and work with experts who understand today’s security landscape, these are things you don’t have to worry about.
The bottom line is, if you don’t invest in your business’s technology and IT solutions today, you will pay for it tomorrow. You’ll be dealing with upset customers if you get hacked, and you may end up closing your doors, temporarily or perhaps even permanently, as you attempt to recover lost data. Don’t make these mistakes because you wanted to save money