Here at FivePoint Technologies, we know that small business is the foundation of our economy. Sadly many of these small businesses fall prey to one or more of these very common, yet very avoidable issues.
1) Insufficient technical expertise
Many companies simply go without professional technology support. Let’s face it; while your neighbor’s high school-er may be a wiz at the keyboard, they likely lack the knowledge, wisdom and experience to make critical decisions about your IT environment.
Others rely solely on vendor support. While, at face value, this should be a very viable option, many find these vendors more concerned with vendor impact reduction rather than customer impact reduction. What good is your server being back online if all of the data has been deleted?
A few still rely on the service departments of the big box stores. While this may function well for the most basic of needs, companies often find more complex issues to simply be outside the knowledge base of these groups. The revolving door of technicians also makes it difficult to develop a relationship, both professional and personal, with your solutions partner.
A lack of professional support can also lead to a lack of security. Yes even the small business has to worry about physical and cyber security. Every device should be protected by AntiVirus and AntiSpyware software. Simply having a connection to the internet puts your company on the hit-list. For a real-time visualization of a small portion of cybersecurity attacks, visit Norse Attack Map.
All of these support models have a major failing in common; they simply will not meet all of your needs. You need an engaged support partner. You deserve someone who will take ownership of your environment and give it the care and feeding it requires.
2) Aging hardware issues
Companies who look to avoid hardware failure place their equipment on a lifecycle. While some consultants will give hard and fast rules for equipment, we don’t feel this is appropriate. Different classes of devices warrant different lifecycles.
For instance, those Black Friday bargain laptops, most of those devices are only designed to last about 2 years. The problem is the device is often already a year old at the time of the sale. This gives the consumer around 1 year of usable life before failure rates skyrocket. A business grade laptop, designed for daily use, should last at least 3 years in the hands of the purchaser.
We see most hardware start a trend of instability in year 4 of use. In year 5, we typically see the cost of extended warranties and business lost overcome the cost of a replacement device. Again, this is not an absolute truth.
Other aging hardware issues include security and aging feature set. In this age of information security, new vulnerabilities are discovered every day. At some point, most vendors will stop creating fixes and releasing features for their older models in favor of keeping their newer product lines on the cutting edge. Failing to upgrade these devices could result in a loss of security and loss of potential efficiency.
3) Power protection woes
You’ve heard it said for years that you should always plug your electronic devices into a surge protector. Well, all of those people are right! Fluctuations in service power can render a device, and its contents, unrecoverable. Worse yet, they can leave your entire company with a loss of business while the issue is repaired.
We recommend advanced power protection for any mission-critical device. How do we define mission-critical? If a device being down stops your cash flow, it’s mission-critical. This recommendation goes beyond the simple surge protector. We recommend all mission-critical devices be protected by an alternate source of power. This could be a batter backup for surviving brief outages or an electric generator for those stormy days. This will ensure your business is up and running even when the power company is not.
4) Inappropriate software licensing
BSA estimates that 1 in 5 software applications in the United States are inappropriately licensed. It’s also believed some of the biggest offenders are small and medium business. This is a particularly dangerous issue as failure to comply could result in penalties so great they would cause a company to fail.
Many vendors offer a “true-up” process. On a periodic basis companies report how many users, devices or software installations they have. Any differences from the last report are negotiated and any required costs can often be defrayed over a period of time. Some vendors will even offer discounts if you approach them with a desire to come into or ensure compliance.
5) Lack of disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC) planning
Are you prepared for the worst? Will your company survive? Don’t lose your company by gambling on good fortune. Every company needs plans to survive everything from a simple internet outage to a complete loss of the physical presence of your business.
- 40% – Businesses who rate their own ability to recover from disaster as fair or poor.
- 36% – Companies who want better disaster recovery but feel they can’t afford it.
- $8,000 – Cost per hour of down time for the average small business in the US.
- 18.5 hours – Average time to recovery for the average small business in the US.
- 95% – Outages which are not related to natural disasters.
Many companies who have DR and BC plans may still find themselves at risk for a couple of very important reasons. Their plans are untested and their plans are incomplete.
Even today, the 3-2-1 rule of data protection should be followed. That’s three (3) copies of data on two (2) media types with one (1) geographically diverse location. But this rule only takes you so far. Sure your backups are in another location but what amount of time and effort are required to recover those backups into a functioning environment?
Beyond data protection considerations, there are a litany of other issues to be addressed. Some of them include:
- Business connectivity – How do you connect to your required services?
- Employee connectivity – How do employees work if there is no office?
- Client notification – How do you inform your clients something has happened?
- Client connectivity – How do your customers find your presence in a new location?
- Voice connectivity – How do clients call you? How do you call them?
- Disaster longevity – How long can you survive in a disaster state?
- Disaster solution – How do you build a new “normal?”
- Disaster resolution – How do you return to a previously failed location?
Companies should work with DR and BCP consultants to ensure these and other issues are fully considered. Especially in instances the veil between personal and business liability can be pierced. Why risk losing everything when you’ve already lost your business?