Top 10 tech mistakes small business owners make – and how to avoid them (part II)

Last week we covered some simple, proactive steps that can help strengthen your business and boost productivity. In part two of this series, we’ll reveal additional measures you can take to resolve issues faster, minimise downtime, and keep your small business poised to thrive in an increasingly fast-paced, pressure-cooker environment.


Top 10 Tech Mistakes—#6 - #10:


Mistake #6: Having a ‘set it & forget it’ mentality

You probably take your car in for regular oil changes and tune-ups, but do you treat your technology to the same kind of routine maintenance? Even the most powerful technologies need ongoing care to ensure optimal performance - and it only takes a few minutes of maintenance to keep your systems running smoothly.


To avoid inevitable system lags that occur as a result of overlooking or avoiding computer updates, it’s best to run weekly system and antivirus updates (use this link to check whether your PC is due for a Windows update), create restore points, and regularly backup your documents (see Mistake #1 in part one of this series). It’s also a good idea to clear your browser cache, delete old email messages, and run Disk Defragmenter and Disk Cleanup every month to increase the performance of your PC.


Mistake #7: Hesitating to call for help

There are a lot of IT issues that you can solve on your own fairly quickly. But some situations, such as optimising major technology purchases or repairing faulty equipment, might require more time - and energy - than you anticipate. So how can you determine the right time to tap professional IT support?


When it appears that fixing IT issues will take longer than you would like - or if you simply want to ensure that you’re setting up or repairing systems the right way from the beginning - it’s a good time to call for help. Eradicating viruses and spyware from infected PCs, for example, might be a task best left to the pros.


If you’re facing a complex technology challenge, a professional consultant can help you save minutes, hours, or even days. That’s because a qualified IT professional is adept at identifying and resolving complex issues quickly, can determine the appropriate hardware and software investments for your organisation, and put proactive monitoring and maintenance services in place to minimise or eliminate downtime. Enter your postcode into our PinPoint tool to find a Microsoft Partner who can help you with your biggest small business challenges.


Mistake #8: Using multiple vendors and OS

According to International Data Corp. (IDC), 36 percent of businesses surveyed rely on two or more operating systems - which requires multiple efforts to manage them.*  The research firm indicates that those who standardize not only operating systems but also hardware and software programs have “the highest levels of ROI” and lower costs associated with training, deploying updates, and managing systems.


This is partly due to the fact that troubleshooting and resolving issues on disparate systems requires more investigation into each problem. And if you need to replace hardware components, you have to track down purchasing records to determine which parts each system needs - and that, of course, takes time that could be better spent running your business.


This doesn’t mean you need to update all of your hardware and software systems at once, but when you do upgrade your PCs, “make sure you purchase only business class computers, and always get the same model,” says IT support guru Michael Cooch.**  It’s also wise to use the same operating system and application suites on all of your PCs so every employee has the same set of tools at their fingertips. That way, if any issue ever comes up, you can solve it once - and leverage Windows 7 Professional tools like Steps Recorder to record, annotate, and save the steps for faster resolution in the future.


* Gantz, John and Turner, Vernon. “Standardization: The Secret to IT Leverage.” IDC. (March 2002.)



Mistake #9: Delaying hardware replacement

echnology, like everything else, has a set lifecycle. And that’s why, as one report indicates, “Accountants typically amortize computers after three or four years.”* After that, hardware is prone to failure—and putting off hardware replacements can actually end up costing more than purchasing new equipment.


 Darin Stahl, Info-Tech Research group analyst suggests that holding off on technology upgrades may seem like the prudent choice, but that “really it’s costing you.”** Consider the research conducted by Tech Aisle, which indicates that the cost of maintaining newer PCs can be as much as 150 percent lower than maintaining older ones - yet 40 percent of PCs in small businesses are more than three years old.*** 


With newer hardware running the latest software, you’ll benefit from improved processing speeds and a smoother overall operation - which results in more time, flexibility, and productivity for your organisation. Explore buying options when you’re looking for a  PC pre-loaded with Windows 7 Professional.


* Computer Troubleshooters. “The Top 10 Technology Mistakes Small Businesses Make.”

** G, Cecilia. “The Hardware Lifecycle Paradox.” Channel Pro. (June 2008.)

*** Tech Aisle. SMB Whitepaper: “The Case for Buying Modern PCs.” (March 2010.)


Mistake #10: Lacking an emergency plan

What would happen to your business if your accounts receivable files were lost, or contact lists destroyed? Would a technology mishap put you permanently out of business?


Lack of planning is cited as one of the top reasons small business fail, according to the SBA and SCORE. And that includes both preparing for disaster - and also planning for recovery and growth. That’s why it’s important to know which kinds of losses would be most damaging to your operation, because understanding where you’re vulnerable can help you prepare for unexpected - and potentially devastating - events. This includes not just backing up files and using anti-malware systems like Windows Defender, but also determining which systems are absolutely critical to your business - and mapping out what you’ll do if systems are adversely affected, or what technologies you plan to integrate you’re your current infrastructure to support ongoing expansion of your business.


 Some ways to manage risk include storing a second set of vital information - including documents, contact sheets and asset lists - at a second off-site location, and you can use the Advanced Backup and Restore Previous Versions feature of Windows 7 Professional to help you save critical data to an external drive and recapture data that’s inadvertently deleted or modified.

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