For growing micro-businesses, it’s often the ultimate headache: how and when to scale up from a laptop to a fit-for-purpose, multi-user IT system
We invited Russ Grimmett from The Cotswold Technology Group to answer some key questions:
Q I’ve been running my business from my laptop for a few months. How do I scale up?
A “How do you see your business growing? Are you looking to employ more people that need to access shared folders and data? Are these people going to be working remotely? If so, then you may need to look at cloud-based options which can sometimes end up more cost-effective than buying a full blown server and network set-up. “From experience, when it comes to purchasing IT equipment, if you buy cheap, you either end up buying twice or getting very frustrated. I always suggest buying a better spec than you think you’ll need. This way you will always have equipment that works better than you need and will always manage your workloads.
Q When is the right time to invest in IT support and what support should I be asking for?
A We always suggest having an IT expert to turn to. While it might be cheap and convenient to bounce problems off friends and family, IT systems go wrong at random times
and usually need sorting immediately – when that cheap support might not be there (or your friends and family might not be able to solve the problem). We offer packages for all business sectors and sizes, such as “pay as you go” packages, where a client buys hours up front and uses them as needed, or monthly retainers customised to a client’s specific technology needs.
Q What about backing up my system? What is the best way of never losing anything?
A Obviously, it’s essential. A lot of people, especially when starting up, cross their fingers and don’t back up properly. Then before they know it, the morning coffee gets spilled and the data is lost or corrupted. The best way of never losing anything is to take out human intervention. The less thinking we have to do to back up data, the
better and safer it will be. As we’ve mentioned, businesses increasingly use the cloud to back-up data, but make sure your cloud backup is secure. We use secure, military-grade cloud backups that encrypt data before leaving a device. We also save up to 10 versions of our clients’ files and those files will never be deleted, even if they’re deleted from their computers.
Q I’m reading a lot about cyber-attacks. How should I protect my systems?
A Having a free anti-virus package is NOT good enough, especially for businesses. You need advice and trusted platforms that do what they need to do to keep everything at arm’s length. We recommend inviting an IT expert to evaluate the security and status of your anti-virus and any firewalls you may have. It may look costly to get something good in place, but we’ve seen companies lose all their data as the ransom money was just too high to retrieve all their files, inclusive of all of their Sage accounts files. Such a situation is totally avoidable, if you think ahead.
Q My business now employs 10 members of staff. Some in the office and some out on the road. How can my IT system evolve to properly support them?
A In most cases, moving to simple platforms like Office 365 can host an array of solutions to support your business needs from cloud file storage, to solutions available on the go – wherever you are with whatever device. You can either have your company fully within the cloud, or have your files stored locally with remote access if you already have a server and good internet.
Q When does my business need to employ a full-time IT expert?
A This depends on your business needs. We look after companies from one person to those employing more than 100. If you want someone to sort a problem out immediately, then employ an IT engineer. If you want to save full-time salary costs, there’s no reason why you can’t outsource your tech needs.