Most small businesses have a lot of pressure on them seemingly at every hour of the day. Not only do they have to compete against larger rivals, they also have to keep up with constantly fluctuating technology trends. Every year, new programs, systems, equipment, and gadgets are introduced, each one guaranteed to make the life of the small business owner so much easier. In the rush to adopt the most surefire technological solutions, small businesses tend to make mistakes. This is perfectly understandable, but that doesn’t mean an honest mistake can’t be costly or even debilitating. As small companies work to bring technology to their organizations, it’s easy for them to fall victim to a number of common mistakes. Here are just a few pitfalls that every small business will need to take special care to avoid.
1. Security Features Not Updated
Security remains a top concern for most small business owners, especially in the wake of major data breaches at large corporations like Target and Home Depot. As such, many small businesses want to make sure their systems and networks are protected. While it’s certainly important to initially adopt security features like anti-virus software, it’s just as crucial that those features receive updates. Security threats change over time, and protective software needs to change in the face of those risks. Anti-virus software that hasn’t been updated for a year or two might as well not exist at all. The same applies to operating systems, which also receive regular updates to meet new security demands.
2. Poor Use of Passwords
Still touching on security, one of the first lines of defense at any organization is the password. Unfortunately, too many small businesses don’t observe best practices when it comes to using them. If a small business uses the same password for all their devices and every system, all it takes is one slip-up before a cyber criminal has access to everything. Passwords also need to be complex and lengthy, liberally using numbers, capital letters, and symbols in order to frustrate attackers. Using a password like “password123” for everything from email to BYOD gadgets to the most critical networks is just asking for trouble.
3. Poor Backup Policies
Sometimes disasters will strike a small business. It could be a cyber attack, a natural disaster, or simply an extended power outage. If smaller companies want to get back on their feet quickly, they need to have effective backup procedures. A good backup policy also features more than one method for backing up the most critical files. This is done to prevent data loss in the event of a catastrophe that would otherwise cripple a business. Simply having a way to backup data isn’t enough. One recent survey showed that while many companies had a backup, 60 percent of them did not function correctly. So small businesses need to test their backup systems regularly.
4. Too Much Emphasis on Software Over Hardware
Software is seemingly where it’s at. That’s where companies will find all the latest solutions guaranteed to make their businesses a success. But what good is software if organizations don’t have the right hardware to run it? Small businesses need to invest in good hardware capable of handling new software demands. That means buying commercial-grade equipment and not stuff seen in the average household. Smaller companies also need to make sure their new hardware is compatible with the latest software and vice-versa.
5. Lack of Training for Employees
At the same time, what good is new technology and equipment when a small business’s employees don’t know how to use it? Oftentimes, when a company gets new technology, they basically leave it up to the workers to figure it out for themselves. Needless to say, this is a shortsighted strategy. Technology changes all the time, and even if a company isn’t purchasing new things, that existing tech gets updated. Employees need regular training meetings to ensure they’re using the technology properly and efficiently. For example, if a small business is adopting a new Cloud computing service, employees will need to know how to use it, what its capabilities are, the security risks involved, etc.
These points only scratch the surface of the common technology pitfalls too many small businesses encounter. Smaller organizations have a lot to consider, so the above issues are a good starting point to make sure they get off on the right foot. With enough preparation and planning, small businesses will be able to take advantage of technology and ensure success far into the future.