Depending on the type of business you have, your small business may have IT needs that aren’t that different, in complexity and type if not in size, than those of a larger business. What your business doesn’t have is the same type of budget.
So here are a few tips for cutting some IT costs.
Beware paying if it’s available for free
There are millions of apps out there; some expensive, some cheap, some free. Before you’re lured into expensive apps, set aside for research. You’ll often find high-spec, multi-featured and free alternatives.
Evernote and OneNote are both great digital notebook systems for filing and recording everything from handwritten notes and diagrams to files, images and audio recordings. They’re a great way to record and organise information and both are free, although you can upgrade Evernote to the Premium or Business versions with extra features (many of which are only likely to be desirable for bigger businesses).
Google Calendar can be linked to a number of other apps, and by itself provides a powerful way to schedule work and meetings, and record time spent on projects. It’s a versatile app that rewards time spent learning its features.
Pandle is a free and fully-featured bookkeeping tool that can be used as easily on your phone or tablet as on your desktop.
Why pay more?
Live in the cloud
The cloud has the power to replace a lot of those software solutions that need regular updating (often at cost, or come with a requirement for newer hardware, and sometimes even the expertise of an IT professional). Having your own servers requires money, space, and someone who knows how to keep them updated and secure (more money!).
By storing your data in the cloud via a service like Dropbox, One Drive or Google Drive, and by using cloud based software—SaaS, or Software as a Service—you can avoid this hassle and expense. SaaS is usually paid for on a subscription basis and updates are done automatically, often without any input from you or any need for new hardware. They’re also normally well-supported, saving you the need to call in or employ your own IT professional. And the other, perhaps greatest, benefit? You can access it all anytime, anywhere there’s an internet connection.
Ditch the landline
Once, the idea of not having a landline in your office was unthinkable—but not anymore. Some apps allow you to talk to colleagues, Skype makes calling from your desktop easy, and virtual phone number systems can be used, directing calls to your virtual numbers onwards to the mobiles of you and your employees.
Accept there’s a world beyond Word
Office application suites are essential but increasingly, expensive subscriptions and limited licences are the norm. However, there are free office applications and cloud based tools out there, such as Google Docs. Some, like Google Docs have the ability to download as a Word doc (or Excel file, if using Google Sheets), which is great if you’re exchanging files with people still using MS Office. Do your research and decide if Word and its Office buddies are really a necessity.
Negotiate on your broadband and mobile deals
A little time spent comparing services and deals, and negotiating with those keen to sell them to you, could save you a fortune. Research shows that busy small business owners are likely to take the first deal offered, or presume there’s no space for negotiation. Not true! Make the time and enjoy the savings.
There are plenty of things to spend your money on when you run a small business, so make sure that none of your spending is unnecessary.