small business technology :: costly mistakes you don’t have to make


Main Street Ventures is new to WordPress, so we're manually posting some recent musings to add to our library until we have an opportunity to import our existing blog onto this platform. Thanks for reading!

May 1, 2009
jack speranza

Of all the organizations contributing to our economy, small businesses have the least amount of leeway to recover from mistakes. With technology playing an ever important role in all businesses, "screwing up" on your IT decisions is less about picking the wrong technology and more about paying way too much for what you ultimately choose. For small business teams that lack technology savvy, the explosion in "cloud computing" (other terms include "Software as a Service" or "Hosted Applications") provides plenty of good options for avoiding costly mistakes.

The first major benefit to utilizing hosted software services for some of your core business needs concerns every small business owner's best friend -- cash. There are no large cash outlays for subscribing to hosted services like there are with purchasing "off the shelf" software. Similarly, you can buy fewer and less expensive computers without having to host your critical applications locally (since you do everything over the internet, usually on your browser). When and if the time comes where it makes sense to take things "in-house," most will provide mechanisms for migrating your data into new applications (though the extent to which "useful" data can be transferred to a new platform will vary). Here's just a small sampling of some of the critical software applications most small businesses use that can be "leased" instead of "bought:"

  • accounting software
  • sales / CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools
  • e-mail and web sites
  • data backups

Starting with a hosted application essentially lets small businesses make inexpensive mistakes. If you were to buy an accounting or CRM program to manage your sales and customer service and found it didn't work for your operations, you're out the entire purchase price. Do the same with a hosted service, and you're only out the monthly cost. The more cash you preserve, the better your chances of growing your business.

Unfortunately, most IT consultants make their money selling products for which they can then charge fees to install and maintain for your business. On the flip side, most technology professionals gravitate to recommending and working with what they are most familiar. So, unless you have the time and knowledge to evaluate your options in the context of your overall business needs and plans, navigating the best path through your technology options can be daunting.

SHAMELESS PLUG :: this is one of the many arenas where Main Street Ventures delivers real value to our business partners. Feel free to nudge us for some free advice, and if you need more than that, we can chat about how to best solve your needs without breaking the bank.