9 Ways IT Can Help Grow Your Small Business
When it comes to growing your business, where do you focus your efforts first?
A fancy marketing campaign? Increased sales targets? More bodies in the production team?
There are lots of options. But one area you perhaps haven’t considered is IT.
When it comes to creating business growth strategies, IT is often overlooked.
It’s easy to see why.
Most small and medium-sized businesses don’t have a dedicated IT department. And you’re unlikely to think about your IT systems on a day-to-day basis (at least, until something goes wrong).
But if you want your business to grow, it makes sense to start with IT. Because IT impacts every aspect of your business from sales and production to customer care and HR.
Get it right and your IT becomes the hard-working engine at the heart of your business, powering you forward. Neglect it and everyday activities can quickly grind to a halt.
As a small to medium sized business, you might not have a dedicated IT department. But don’t worry. There’s no need to recruit your own IT specialists or create a new IT team. With the help of a good small business IT support company, you can take advantage of all the growth opportunities offered by a proactive IT strategy.
Why IT support for small business is important
With the right IT support, you no longer need to waste your own time solving all the day-to-day tech headaches that hold you back. At the same time, you’ll gain access to the latest IT best-practice systems and resources to help grow your business.
Because IT isn’t just about hardware and software. It’s about using the latest technologies to support and grow your business while protecting you from downtime and external threats.
How IT can help support and grow your small business
Here are nine ways business IT support can promote growth in your business.
1. Increased productivity
If you want to grow your business, one of the most obvious ways is to increase productivity. But ideally you want to achieve increased productivity without increasing costs. That’s where IT can help.
By using IT to streamline and improve daily activities, you can boost productivity without hiring extra staff.
Your people are likely to be one of the biggest expenses for your business. So, it’s crucial they are able to work as efficiently as possible. Technology promotes productivity by allowing teams to work more efficiently with less downtime.
As well as making your people more efficient, technology can also boost job satisfaction, removing the frustrations caused by outdated systems.
A good small business IT support company will assess the systems you currently use and suggest where improvements can easily be made to increase productivity. They’ll also be able to look at those processes you complete manually – such as data entry, sending standard emails, or updating records; and suggest where daily actions can be automated.
Automation through the right IT software and systems can bring improved productivity to every department, saving time and money throughout your business.
Perhaps you have certain times of the year when you’re busier than others. Or maybe, you’re planning a one-off project that means ramping up activities for a few months.
At times like these, you might need extra IT resources. But you don’t want the expense of surplus equipment or unnecessary software once your busy time has passed.
A solution could be to use cloud-based services. These enable you to scale your business, as and when you need to, without investing in IT hardware or resources you don’t need long-term.
A good small business IT support company will be able to introduce you to the best cloud-based services and make the right recommendations for your business. They’ll also be able to look at your growth plans and put IT systems in place now to protect and enhance your business in the future.
3. Remote working
It’s becoming increasingly important for businesses of all sizes to offer staff the ability to work remotely.
Whether it’s being able to check emails on the train, update shared documents on the move, or join a video conference from home; remote working means your teams can get things done, even when away from the office.
But remote working isn’t just about increasing productivity. It’s also about giving your people more freedom and flexibility in their working day; helping them achieve a better work-life balance.
Helping staff fit work around childcare or other personal commitments will improve retention and create a positive working environment where staff feel trusted and valued.
By offering flexible working, it can also become easier to recruit and retain staff, cutting recruitment and training costs for your business.
Allowing remote working means you can give your customers a better experience too as your staff will be able to work outside of traditional office hours, if required.
Of course, for people to work efficiently from home or on the move, they need to be able to access the systems to do their job. You’ll also want to ensure security is maintained and confidential data is protected when devices are being used outside the office environment.
4. Quicker, easier communication
How much time is lost in your business to meetings and email communication?
With better IT processes, you can cut down the number of unnecessary meetings and those endless to-and-fro email trails.
For example, with project management software or online trackers, everyone can instantly find the information they need without interrupting, or chasing-up colleagues.
Not only will your teams regain valuable time to get on with other tasks, but everyone in your business will be able to make better decisions, more quickly.
5. Create a better team culture
Effective IT systems bring visibility and accountability to your teams. This in turn leads to better communication and a workplace where everyone knows exactly what is expected of them.
Responsibilities and timescales become clearer, all helping to avoid a culture of blame. In turn, improved morale leads to a more positive environment and increased productivity.
6. Make better management decisions
Success or failure in business almost always comes down to making the right decision at the right time. But you can only make the right decisions when armed with all the relevant information.
With the right IT software, it becomes easy to access and analyse data so you can make informed business decisions. From identifying cost savings to planning scalability or monitoring output; technology allows you to uncover the most important insights into your business.
7. Improve the customer experience
Providing a great experience is one of the best ways to retain customers. What’s more, provide a good service and they’ll be more likely to recommend you to others, helping you secure new clients.
One way to do this is to use IT to give your customers an enhanced service.
From improving the order process to providing outstanding after-care; technology has opened up a host of new ways to connect with customers.
It may be as simple as being able to answer customer queries immediately or the ability to fulfill orders more quickly. Or it could be giving customers new ways to connect with your business. This is particularly important in the modern age of communication when customers expect to get instant answers to questions, at any time of day.
If customers interact with your IT systems, it’s even more important they are working efficiently.
Whether they’re accessing your helpdesk, using web chat, tracking an order or logging into a customer portal; customers expect to be able to interact with your business in a host of different ways. If they can’t do this easily, they’ll look elsewhere.
8. Reduce frustration and downtime
There’s perhaps no bigger source of frustration for you and your staff than IT issues. A problem that brings work to a halt can be catastrophic for productivity, morale, and customer relations.
But with a healthy IT infrastructure, you’ll reduce downtime and ensure that your business continues to run smoothly.
With effective IT support for your small business in place, your staff don’t have to worry about firefighting – they can simply get on with their jobs.
9. Enhanced security
The threats to your business from cyber criminals are ever-increasing. Viruses, hackers and malware, all pose a serious risk to your business. A virus, for example, could bring your business to a standstill for hours, days, or even longer.
And you don’t have to be a high-profile business to be a victim of cybercrime.
According to Lloyd’s UK Business Digital Index Report*, 66 per cent of small businesses have been the victim of cybercrime. Meanwhile only 33 per cent of small to medium sized businesses believe they have the knowledge to safeguard themselves from fraud.
If you store customer details such as credit card numbers, bank account details, or passwords; the risks increase. Many viruses are created specifically to steal this kind of data and so it’s important to protect your business and your customers from threats.
IT can help keep your business safe by safeguarding you from the risk of cyber-attacks. A small business IT support company can advise on a range of security measures such as email security, safe data management and back-up processes to protect you.
The introduction of GDPR (Europe’s data protection rules) in 2018 has made it even more important to store customer data properly. The GDPR rules apply to businesses of all sizes and if you fail to keep customer data secure, you risk a fine of up to €20 million.
Finding the right IT support for small business
So, there you go. Nine ways IT can help grow your business; improving productivity while protecting you from threats.
But you might be wondering how you can achieve these steps if you don’t already have your own in-house IT department.
Well, while a team of IT specialists might make sense for larger organisations, for a small or medium business; recruiting your own IT team is probably not cost-effective or necessary.
Instead, by outsourcing your IT needs to a small business IT support company, you’ll gain the expertise of knowledgeable IT experts without the expense of hiring extra staff.
The other benefit of choosing external business IT support is that they have access to all the latest technologies, resources and tools to help your business succeed.
A good IT support company isn’t just there for when things go wrong. At Netstar, we take a proactive approach, making suggestions to help you improve and grow your business.
We make sure your IT strategy is always adapting to keep up with the latest regulations, trends and best practice.
By putting IT at the heart of your business, with the support of Netstar’s small business IT support, you’ll see major improvements in your organisation while growing your business.
If you’d like to find out more about how our IT support services can protect and grow your business, click here to book your free consultation call
Want to know what to look for in an IT support partner? Download our handy IT checklist here