Many small and midsize business owners and managers these days have an increasingly frustrating relationship with technology. Instead of helping them manage their businesses, technology increasingly seems to own their time and, as a result, them. It’s an extraordinarily common – and growing – problem.
In fact, fully two-thirds of small business owners say they frequently are overwhelmed by the amount of technology they use to run their businesses. That’s according to Brother International Corp.’s fourth annual survey of small businesses, which found that people are spending too much time managing technology and not enough time growing their businesses.
Even more revealing, the Brother Survey showed that 86 percent of small business managers say that within the last year productivity in their offices suffered because technology did not work properly.
That’s an astounding number. It means that 8½ out of every 10 small business owners or managers have to divert significant amounts of time to diagnose, fix or work around office technology issues and broader IT problems.
What’s Behind a Bad Technology Trend
There are lots of elements to the story of how the small and midsize business world became dominated by the very technologies that should be helping them dominate their markets. But they all are part of a general theme. Most small and midsize business owners and managers aren’t technology pros. And while they’re doing a relatively poor job of managing their business’ technology issues (usually under the false assumption that the Do-It-Yourself approach will save money) they are not focusing on other vital management functions for which they are well-trained and well-equipped. And, more often than not, their businesses suffer as a result.
So how can a small or midsize business owner or manager keep from – or stop being – overwhelmed by their own technology?
- Get Help. No, that doesn’t mean “see a shrink,” though for those who get super-frustrated by IT issues, that might help. What it really means is to seek the help of an IT consultant or IT managed services partners. Consultants can help small businesses sort through the myriad of IT offerings on the market to decide which are and aren’t right for their particular needs and circumstances. Hiring a consultant will cost some money up front. But compare that to these positive results:
- Managerial frustration and exasperation relieved, or avoided entirely.
- Money not wasted on unnecessary, old, poorly-performing IT solutions or on IT fads that won’t survive the test of time.
- Dollars saved from smoother IT and IT-supported operations.
- Streamlined operations and lower costs from better use of data.
- Increased sales as a result of better data-driven marketing and product or service design.
- A happier workplace because the boss is more engaged with people than with frustrating IT issues.
- A more productive workforce empowered by technology rather than stymied by IT problems.
- Get a Partner. Find someone who is great with IT, and who can be trusted to manage IT operations wisely and honestly on an on-going basis. Some small and midsize companies are blessed to have such individuals in-house. For most, though, the best option is to outsource some or all of the IT operations, troubleshooting and (just as critical) user training work to IT managed service providers. Outsourcing IT operations can provide most small and midsize companies with greater expertise, security, reliability and service than otherwise would be available to them. And it usually helps them remain current and efficient as the IT world continuously grows and evolves.
- Get Back to Work. Small business owners and managers need to keep an eye on everything. But they don’t actually need to DO everything themselves. Freed from the responsibility of managing and troubleshooting IT issues, owners and managers can get back to doing what they got into business to do in the first place.