The 10 Technology Mistakes Small Businesses Often Make (And How To Avoid Them)

Technology can streamline your business processes -- but it can also create major problems. Here are 10 of the most common mistakes small businesses make in IT, and how to avoid them.

Lifehacker's Supercharge Your Business For 2015 series, brought to you by QuickBooks Online, provides strategies and technology tips to help your business thrive. Learn more about how QuickBooks Online can run your entire business.


10. Not Investing In Training

Woman at computer from Shutterstock Sufficient training in the tools staff are using to do their job is crucial, but often overlooked in favour of a "work it out as you go" approach. Staff that are educated in the ins and outs of the software they use on a daily basis are more confident, productive and overall a lot happier in their roles. They don't even have to leave the office to get up to speed -- many software programs offer short online courses.


9. Using Too Many Communication Tools

Multi-Tasking from Shutterstock Email, Trello, Slack, Hipchat, Google Hangouts, Skype, Smartsheet, Biba, Kona, Yammer, twoodoo, Glip -- all useful communication tools, but keeping track of multiple messages on multiple platforms can be a nightmare. While it might be fun to check out a new platform, take some time to get to know it before rolling it out to your team. Choose a couple of methods you think will work for your business, and stick to them.

8. No Social Media Strategy

Social Media from Shutterstock Randomly chucking posts up on Facebook will get you nowhere. If you take building your online prescence seriously, you need to have a strategy. Using Facebook's built in analytics to identify peak times to post will give you more reach and engagement with your followers, and attract new ones. Tools like HootSuite can help you take over Twitter as well.

7. Not Taking Security Seriously

Security Keyboard from Shutterstock

Some things are easy to overlook. Even something as simple as network sharing can comprise your business security -- check who has permission to view files and folders. Make sure you're installing the latest security patches as they become available. You should receive a notification from your anti-virus software -- ensure that it's legit, and make sure you're only running one program. More is not better in this case. Have a regularly scheduled date to ensure everything is updated and secure, and it will benefit you both day-to-day and in the long run.

6. Not Utilising Two-Step Authentication

Woman at cafe with laptop and smartphone from Shutterstock

It's not just for bank accounts -- Google and Twitter and numerous other online services also have the option of requiring two-step authentication. As well as needing a regular password, you also need to enter a code sent to your mobile number, email or a security token issued by the provider to access your accounts. This means that even if someone does discover your unique clever, seemingly random and often changed password (you've made sure you're doping all that, right?) they still won't be able to log in. If it's offered for a service you use for your business, do it.

5. Forgetting To Back Up Data

Backup and Restore Road Signs from Shutterstock It's so easy to put off until something terrible happens -- and you lose all your data. Set a reminder in your calender, on your phone, wherever you need to. Commit to making backups part of your regular routine and you'll never have that sinking feeling of despair in the pit of your stomach again. Not for this, anyway.

4. Email Chaos

Huge pile of paperwork on desk from Shutterstock There are a few schools of thought when it comes to organising your emails. Some prefer to file and categorise, while others insist on the inbox- only route. What definitely doesn't work, however, is having thousands of unread messages. Find the time to cull 50 per day. Unsubscribe from mailing lists, change notification settings on social media and chip away at that pile until you can breathe a sigh of relief. You'll be less likely to miss important emails, and your inbox will thank you!

3. No actual tech support

While it may be tempting to simply get the most tech-savvy member of your team to look after any problems as they arise, a proficiency in League of Legends is no guarantee of actually knowing what is best for your business. It is simple and surprisingly affordable to outsource proper IT support, and its importance cannot be understated. Most offer 24/7 support via a multiple number of communication methods, so if your Level 30 summoner is off sick you will never be short of someone to assist with whatever arises.

2. Slow Internet

Slow connection snail from Shutterstock Check your speed online and compare your options. Don't put up with snail pace internet if you don't have to! It's worth spending a little extra to get the fastest internet possible in your area -- you'll see an improvement in everything from staff morale to an increase in productivity. Don't be stingy.

1. Not upgrading regularly enough

Mouse with Vintage Typewriter from Shutterstock Following on from the "don't be stingy" theme, struggling with hardware that is 10 years old is something you should stop doing now. Invest in new equipment on a regular basis -- I'm not saying get yourself into debt, but if your printer cartridges are obsolete you should probably move on, rather than ordering them from eBay.


 


Business picture from Shutterstock


Comments

    It all depends on the type of business. Not all of these things are essential for every type of small business.

    #6 is plain wrong. stealing one-time-codes is exactly as easy as stealing passwords (hint: phishing, malware, rougue wifi, etc), it's just that the codes only work for 5 minutes, which is *plenty* long enough for the thief to use.
    This tech is 30 years old - it was invented even before the modern internet, back when it wasn't possible for the thief to use the code in near-real-time. It totally does not work anymore in our connected real-time world.
    Need proof of how useless two-step really is? 90% of all breakins come from phishing attacks. Most of those places are using this tech already: ergo: 9 out of 10 times it's not saving them.

    Oh god, those last two. After seven years at my current job, I'm currently being groomed to take over the business. Most of the first 6 I have covered... by myself... just barely... and 7 is me, even on sick days, but 2 and 1, yeesh... Upgrading I've started to get him to crack, but faster internet, don't even ask.

    And the social media thing, he wrenched from my hands and tanked. Only a few more years!

Join the discussion!