Small Business IT Solutions Left Out
I’ve spent way too long in IT. From large corporate environments, startups, small businesses, and nonprofits I’ve seen all manner of organizations. One segment that repeatedly gets left out of the IT market is the small or micro business segment of the economy. These organizations lack either the time, the money, or the knowledge to make the choices they need to support the IT of their business. Additionally, the offerings geared towards them are frequently either a bad fit or not financially viable. So where can small businesses go for IT support or IT services they need? Should they go to a big box store with nerds or geeks that will visit their business onsite, or is an IT consultancy the right fit for them?
IT Challenges Faced by Small Business IT
It’s clear that the smaller businesses often get the short end of the stick. They need to be able to support themselves and choose the right software and hardware strategies for their companies to grow. The questions range from,
- How (and where) do we host our website?
- What type of computers and network should we install?
- Can we have people remote working?
- What are the costs of remote work and what are the potential security risks?
- What applications should we use outside of standard office software?
- Do we need a CRM?
This dizzying array of questions often must be answered by someone who has another role at the company, and frequently doesn’t have the background to analyze the options in varying IT services. For many small businesses the consequences of operating in this manner is lost time, lost money, and lost opportunities. In order for these establishments to thrive they will need to make informed decisions at a rapid pace. How can they do that?
Exploring the IT Services Options for Smaller Enterprise
As mentioned at the outset the tools available to satisfy the Information Technology needs of smaller organizations are often ill suited to the task or priced woefully out of range. I remember the sticker shock I had when looking though CRM proposals as an IT consultant in a small business years ago. I asked my self, “Are these really the prices for small businesses?” “How much do they think we can really afford?”. Ultimately many of these small business offerings from Cisco and other large vendors have failed simply because the price point is not realistic.
The Rise of the Geek
In the wake of this vacuum in IT services for small businesses we have seen the rise of the geeks. Whether there are on wheels or onsite the idea is often the same. A big box company rolls out a fleet of trucks and technicians to repair or install IT equipment, but these geeks are not consultants. The company stakeholders still need to tell them what to do. They will never study your workflow or business process and suggest simpatico solutions. The possible damage from this short term solution should not be underestimated. Security vulnerabilities can be created or passed over and not corrected, and data can be lost from improperly executed computer migrations or other data sensitive operations. So, we’ve seen the pitfalls of going the traditional route – either getting lost in the high seas of overpriced, oversized IT solutions or falling into the trap of quick-fix, big box store tech services. But what’s the middle ground? What’s the smart move for a small business that wants to punch above its weight in the IT arena without getting KO’d by costs or complexity?
So, we’ve seen the pitfalls of going the traditional route – either getting lost in the high seas of overpriced, oversized IT solutions or falling into the trap of quick-fix, big box store tech services. But what’s the middle ground? What’s the smart move for a small business that wants to punch above its weight in the IT arena without getting KO’d by costs or complexity?
The MSP Advantage for Small Businesses
Enter the world of Managed Services Providers (MSPs). Think of MSPs as the savvy, street-smart cousin of the IT world. MSP are often SMB’s themselves and such are well acquainted with the difficult IT choices that come with the territory. They’re not here to sell you a one-size-fits-all solution or leave you hanging with a half-baked fix. No, MSPs are in it for the long haul. They prefer to partner with businesses and offer a range of services that meet the IT needs of the company as it develops
MSPs are IT Solutions Not Just Services
First off, MSPs get small businesses. They understand that you’re not running a Fortune 500 company (yet!), but you still need top-notch IT to compete and grow. When you think about the questions mentioned above, regarding remote work, CRM, and other applications they are the ones in the best position to knowledgeably answer these IT related questions.
With MSPs it’s a buffet of services. Need round-the-clock monitoring of your systems to prevent those heart-stopping IT emergencies? Check. Worried about cybersecurity? They’ve got your back with the latest defenses, keeping the digital wolves at bay. Thinking about cloud services, data backup, or remote work setups? They’ll tailor a solution that fits like a glove, ensuring your team can work from anywhere without skipping a beat.
Why are MSPs better suited than big box stores to solve these problems? MSPs have a team of seasoned pros, each with their own specialty. Their many partnerships allow them to have a deep roster of talent available when needed. It’s like having your own IT department on speed dial, but without the hefty price tag. Whether it’s setting up a secure network, navigating the cloud, or even answering those niche tech questions that keep you up at night, they’ve got the expertise to guide you through.
But it’s not just about fixing problems as they pop up. They help you plan and scale your IT as your business grows, ensuring that your tech can boost your success, not drag you down.
Your business, any business has a life cycle of growth expansion, and development. In the end, choosing an MSP means you’re not just choosing an IT solution. You’re choosing a partner who’s invested in your business’s growth, who understands the challenges of being a small player in a big pond, and who provides the tools and expertise to help you swim with the sharks. Forget the nerds and the geeks with their short term, limited solutions. With an MSP, IT becomes less of a headache and more of a strategic asset, propelling your business towards its goals.