4 common tech mistakes that impede business success

Annual surveys show that many people do a poor job selecting passwords; train your staff so that your small business avoids this security threat.

By Heather Redding

Modern business is almost impossible without some reliance on various technologies. Used properly, IT can enhance efficiency and help drive business growth. However, if your IT resources aren’t meeting your needs, it can limit your business success. For entrepreneurs with poor technical understanding, building and maintaining a secure IT infrastructure can be overwhelming.

Here are four common IT mistakes that small businesses make, and how you can avoid them.

-Poor security measures
Companies of every size face digital security threats. Social media and email accounts are vulnerable to threats like hacking, virus-ridden downloads, harmful spam, or phishing tactics.

Many companies fail to define security policies or train employees. You should draw up policies such as use of strong passwords to protect company data. Remind employees to set a different password for each account, and never to click on suspicious links.

Some small companies with limited staff find it difficult to maintain a balance of productivity and security. You may be tempted to forego preventative security measures for fear operations may be slowed. However, it’s crucial that every employee be trained in IT security measures. Mistakes and neglect can leave vulnerabilities.

-Sticking to outdated tech
Companies usually plan regular IT upgrades, such as purchasing a new server, every four years. But upgrades should occur more often if outdated equipment is limiting business performance.

Reliance on outdated technology can be costing you more than you realize in terms of failures and software conflicts. Microsoft, for example, hasn’t supported Windows XP, since 2014.

Digital security depends upon getting the latest fixes to counter new threats, an advantage you don’t get with unsupported versions. Hackers know these older operating systems well.

When and how your technology gets upgraded is critical. For example, if you upgrade certain software, it may be a poor investment when an upcoming release provides better features that could benefit you more.

Some companies may rush to install the latest software without first determining whether it’s compatible with equipment in use by customers and vendors. It’s important to do the research before choosing the most effective upgrades that won’t disrupt operations.

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The capabilities of your business technologies may not be fully used if your employees don’t receive proper training. As a result, you’re not getting full value or achieving optimal productivity, which can lead to dissatisfied customers.

Poor training means that many processes, such as data entry, data discovery, and reporting are done as labor-intensive manual processes. This also raises the risk of introducing errors.

Activities that can be completed quickly with the right software become time-savers. When you consider that manual tasks might be done by multiple workers each day, the cost of failing to provide training grows. It’s essential to ensure that your staff understands how to best leverage the software tools they’re provided with.

-Irregular backups
The latest software doesn’t help you if your hardware fails and you don’t have backup copies of critical business records. Business continuity requires that you perform regular data backups so you have the information you need when data is lost or compromised.

Manual data backup and restores can be difficult and expensive. However, modern systems can allow you to schedule automated backups so you don’t have to remember to perform them manually. A reliable backup strategy is especially important for smaller businesses with limited IT staff.

Data backups are a form of business insurance. When you lose essential information, it can bring business to a halt. Data loss can lead to hours of lost productivity while you struggle to restore the information. In addition to lost revenue, you may be looking at hardware replacement and repairs, and a negative impact on your company reputation.

Schedule tests to ensure backup and recovery works properly. The best way to guard against data loss is to have protective measures in place that ensure information can be recovered at any point in the data lifecycle.

Final thoughts
Many small businesses tend to make shortcuts in their IT practices to save time or money, but actually wind up wasting funds or even endangering their own infrastructure. Poor security policies put your company at risk. Therefore, it’s important to plan out an IT strategy that eliminates these common mistakes.

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Heather Redding is a tech enthusiast and freelance writer based in Aurora, Illinois. She is a coffee-addict who enjoys swimming and reading. Street photography is her newly discovered artistic outlet, and she likes to capture everyday little moments with her camera. You can reach Heather via Twitter.

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