IT mistakes can do serious damage to a small business, so learn from others’ misfortune what to do in order to avoid their fate.
Andre Preoteasa still remembers the business owner who missed a project deadline because his old computer was too slow. As the businessman’s IT consultant, Preoteasa had earlier recommended switching to new, faster machines. But the advice had fallen on deaf ears. “He cried in front of me. There was nothing I could tell him. He didn’t upgrade,” Preoteasa says.
Now IT director at Castle Brands, a New York City fine spirits importer, Preoteasa relates the story to explain how IT mistakes can hurt a small business. It’s a good lesson for bad times: when money is tight and customers are precious, IT can make or break a business.
The bad economy is only underscoring what savvy business owners already know about IT, says Michael Kraner, CEO of Primary Support, a 10-person IT consulting firm in New York City. Whatever business you’re in, you’re in the technology business, Kraner says. If you can’t collect on overdue bills because your computer crashed and you didn’t back it up adequately, you’re hurting yourself financially, and that’s not a good situation to be in, especially in tough times. “If you don’t protect your network, you’re going to have problems,” he says.
Chronicling IT mistakes
According to Preoteasa and Kraner, here are some of the biggest IT mistakes small businesses make and what they can do to solve them:
What worked a few years ago isn’t good enough for today. You don’t have to be the first on the block with every new tech toy, but you do need to keep up with the times, Preoteasa says. Five years ago logging on to your company’s network remotely was an expensive, cumbersome process; today it’s easy and free. A couple years ago, setting up a new computer took a couple hours; today it’s a couple minutes. Keeping equipment up to date helps productivity and morale “Slow computers don’t please anybody except the accountant,” he says.
Sidebar: More Cautionary Tales
Want to learn more from other companies’ IT mistakes? Here are a few websites that spell out what can go wrong: