When you’re a small business or sole trader, you have to wear all the hats, including, for now, Operations Manager and IT Helpdesk. Even if you have a few people working for you, it’s likely that they’re working on admin or delivering client work, so a lot of the time you’re still the one who has to do all the complicated thinking.
The best way to deal with most things in your business is to give them to someone who likes doing them and has the right skills. It’s likely that you’ve hired an accountant to sort out your bookkeeping and tax returns. If your electrics go out on your premises or your home office, you call in an electrician. But most small businesses struggle through their own IT issues, whether that’s the best use of their time or not.
I know as much as anyone that computers can be fickle and awkward when all you want to do is a 5-minute job and it turns into all day. Maybe it’s because we’re used to struggling with computers and devices in our home lives, we do the same at work. With nobody to call, it’s down to you to keep hitting it until it finally behaves. The problem is that in a business, your time is worth way more than you think. And wasting time on computers means you have less time to do what you do best.
Ideally, you’d have someone you could call when things like this happen. Sure, it will cost money. But when you’ve found yourself with a broken laptop with all your business data on it (and nowhere else), spending that money beforehand suddenly seems like a good idea. So of course, I’m going to suggest that you enlist my help to get you set up with all the systems you need. But if you’re just starting out in business and money is tight, or you actually quite like messing with tech and want to do it yourself, I’m going to provide some free ideas of what kinds of systems you’ll want to think about, and how to go about it.
Hopefully you’ll find something here that you hadn’t thought of, and that will help you keep your business data safe, let you work faster, or in some other way make your business more effective. And if you see something you don’t think you can do alone – just get in touch!
Topics I’ll cover
Here’s an idea of the kinds of things I’ll be writing about:
- Storing your files in the cloud. Why you really don’t want your business data to live on your laptop.
- Backups. Everyone loses data. Whether you get it back again is up to you.
- Professional email addresses. Why an email address like firstname.lastname@example.org makes people go elsewhere, and how easy it is to fix.
- Using a password safe service to keep track of your web passwords – especially if you have employees.
- Using a proper ‘collaboration suite’ like Office 365 or G Suite when there’s more than just you in your company.
- Getting started with a CRM. Keeping track of your business leads on just email or in your head is not really enough. Luckily there are some good free CRMs out there.
- Simplifying internal communication (not so much for sole traders!). Using Slack, MS Teams or other chat-based workspaces to cut out email clutter and work together.
- Why you should care about antivirus and software updates as well as knowing what not to click on. It’s one thing having your home computer compromised, but another when it’s where you run your business.
- Various useful systems I’ve found for specific tasks. Cloud services for task management, project management, surveys, bulk mailing, social media posting, time tracking, bookings, inventory/stock control, client-facing chat support…
- Anything you ask me for. Within reason, if you have anything you’d like me to post about, let me know. If it can help small and medium businesses do more with their time and resources (and if I understand it enough to be helpful!), I’ll see what I can do.