IT doesn’t have to be confusing; it can be the cornerstone of your flourishing business.
So, the last couple of days have been filled with “what software should I use”, and “what computer should I buy” questions. I think lots of women business owners hate the idea of reaching out to an IT person (wonder if I should tell them that I am an IT person with over 20 years experience?). I promise we aren’t all scary and geeky. Ok well, I am geeky, I’ll admit it, but I am also pretty girly. I love anything Star Wars, Marvel comics, Minions, Michael Kors, Vera Bradley, well you get the point.
IT should be something that every business owner should consider, no matter how big or small you are.
I will let you in on a little secret: Geek Squad and Staples Tech services are not real IT, and no I am not picking on them because I am trying to steal their business. They are bench people; this means they know how to fix a few things with the tools given to them. For the most part, they are no different than a call center person, they know how to follow a script. They know what is on their sales floors and what will get them the most points for selling to their boss. Their job isn’t to steer you in the right direction, it’s to make money off of you for the store, period. Now, you can find people that are knowledgeable there, but that is not the normal person that is working there. Now I can tell you, it is possible to get some great deals on equipment from them, but advice, not so much, at least not so that it is a reliable place to head for advice.
Every decision you make for your company is important. Everything you do, create, sell has some technical need behind it.
You should never decide on a printer to print your product on without considering what effect your computer will have on making that purchase. Software to design your next creation? Well, your computer needs to be taken into consideration on that as well. Oh, your cell phone purchasing decisions should also be considered. I have seen so many Direct Sales friends come to me after the fact and say “why won’t this work?” Well, cause you didn’t buy the right thing, and now you have taken it out of the box and attempted to use it so, in most cases, you can’t take it back. Or even worse is “look at a great deal I got” (umm I could have saved you a significant amount and gotten you better equipment).
Even a direct sales business owner should consider each purchase and verify that you know what you are getting before you dive in and spend money. So how do you make those decisions? Where do you find the information you need? There are a couple options. Ask me! I have over 20 years experience in IT, and 10 years experience in running an IT Service Company that focuses on small businesses. My Facebook Group The Minion Queen’s Kingdom, come ask questions I am always happy to answer them in my group! There is currently at least one other IT Geek in my group to help me answer your questions. You do have a few resources that aren’t going to pick on you or stare at you like a deer in headlights cause a girl is talking to them.
Also, make sure you know what your actual needs are when you ask a question. Know what you are going to use your computer, software, and peripherals for. Do not listen to advertising cause let me tell ya, 99% of the time you do not NEED to spend LOTS of money to get what you need.
Everything you do on a machine will affect what you purchase. So really think about it, make a list if you need to, in order to figure out what you need from your machine. Your machine is part of your team and a very important part, usually. So make sure you give it the same consideration that you do for your products, blog posts or your personal life. IT should not be an afterthought in your business. Most women do not hesitate to spend money on a haircut or color cause you aren’t able to fully do it yourself. Why should an important part of your business be any different? So how do I know if I need to find an IT person to help me? Are you able to answer the question: How will I use my machine day to day, and I know it needs to run x, y z? Then you might be able to make decisions on your own, with just a little research and guidance; but let me warn you, just because another business owner has new Dell desktops with dual 27” screens doesn’t mean that is what you need to use. Every business is not created equal. Now don’t panic cause you already bought lots of equipment. An IT Pro will be able to help you make the most of what you already have as well. A quality IT Pro shouldn’t be making any money off of sending you out for new equipment just advice and physical help setting things up only.
As a business owner (outside of IT), I am pretty lucky to know what I need, but even I try to cut corners, cause I don’t want to invest in that part of my business. But it has bitten me back a few times when I have done that. Make smart, money-conscious decisions. But do them in a way that your business can continue to grow without a major upheaval or “thrash” as I like to call it. If you choose a piece of software to use now because it was free are you able to grow with it and if not how easy will it be to move off of it? I had a customer about a year ago who had chosen to use a free piece of software about 5 years ago. When it was time to migrate he learned it wasn’t possible to move his old data from the old software to the new. He ended up paying about $20,000 dollars to manually the move data, when for a little extra effort and a cost of $5/month 5 years ago, he would have been able to not only spend only around $300 over the course of 5 years, but the cost of migrating would have been more like $1,000, not $20,000We can’t always use exactly what we want, in the business season you are in now, but if you are prepared for that eventuality, then it won’t be a shock if it does happen.
Being frugal today does not mean you have actually saved anything in the end.
There are NO question is a stupid question when asked well. Be honest and say “I have no idea what I really need to buy, but I know I need it to do a, b, c.” I am always willing to work with you and help you learn what you do need, and the path to get there.