Technology is almost certainly one of the largest costs new businesses will face.
In fact, for many companies, tech often represents over 80% of their set up costs – and not being able to manage on-going tech-related costs is one of the main reasons startups end up closing their doors.
With this in mind, it’s vitally important that you keep tech spending within manageable boundaries. We’ve highlighted 6 areas that’ll earn you some quick and effective financial wins…
Using a managed service provider
An enormous cost that’s associated with tech isn’t actually tech at all – it’s the people who support your organisation’s tech use.
As a small company, even with just a handful of employees, it’s highly likely that you’ll need at least one dedicated member of IT staff, especially if you have a business IT network in place.
Now comes the painful part. That person obviously needs to be paid – and that pay is likely to be somewhere in the region of $30,000-$40,000. Oh, then there’s holiday and sickness cover – then there’s considerable training costs if you hope to keep that person on top of your systems. Very quickly, your IT people can end up costing a lot more than your IT systems.
The answer? For many smaller companies – it involves turning to a managed service provider (MSP). For a fraction of the price of recruiting and maintaining an in-house team, you’ll be able to find a provider who’ll be at the end of the phone 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It’s also highly possible you’ll get a dedicated member of staff who knows your systems as well as any in-house team could too.
It’s important to know what makes a good MSP, but assuming you can find someone who inspires confidence – you’ll stand to save a LOT of money.
Using opensource software
If you’ve worked a company, there’s a strong possibility you’ve taken the software that you opened and used daily for granted.
There’s your email, your customer relationship management tools, account management software, financial systems, word processing, spreadsheet creation… and much more. Don’t be fooled though – just because they’re readily available as an employee – it doesn’t mean they’re not going to cost your business a lot of money.
The good news is, there are entirely FREE alternatives. Not low cost, poor imitations; high quality, totally cost-free exceptional pieces of software. The thing is, given their non-existent price tag, there’s no marketing budget – so it’s possible you’ve never heard of them; even the very best ones.
Welcome to the massive world of ‘opensource’ software – specialist pieces of software for a huge variety of business and personal needs – all created and distributed without charge. While you won’t find programs with the enormous scope of Microsoft Office – you will find perfectly workable alternatives – and a dedicated following of people who are constantly working on and adapting these programs to people’s needs.
If saving a chunk of money on software sounds like it could be good for your business, check out SourceForge or similar sites – you’ll be amazed at the quality – and the amount you’ll potentially save.
Bring your own device
10 employees might be an indication that your business is really booming – but it also means you’ve got to find the capital to provide 10 computers, desktops, tablets, mobile phones – and a host of other tech requirements.
This kind of spend is often just not possible for small businesses – so workplaces with ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) policies are increasingly commonplace.
BYOD is simple. You bring and work on your own laptop, tablet, mobile phone or other IT device – and the results are actually surprising. Of course, as a company you’ll save considerable money – even if you have to give your team a small allowance for wear and tear of their device – but you’re likely to also see increased productivity.
Numerous studies show that employees are often far more comfortable on their own devices – meaning they’re quicker and more efficient versus using an company supplied device. If employees like it and it saves you money, BYOD is often a ‘no brainer’ for small businesses…
A paperless office has been a daydream of many small businesses for a long time – especially as some governments offer incentives for organisations who adopt green practices.
However, the reality is often very difficult – but if you’re just starting out, now might be a great time to make a commitment to being paper-free. Not only will you be helping the environment, you’ll also be saving a lot of money on IT consumables – such as printers, toners, copiers, scanners, paper and much more.
IT as a service
There are an increasing number of IT related services and items that are being delivered ‘As A Service’ – that’s to say, as a monthly or annual subscription, rather than one-off large upfront payment.
While it’s easy to image how this works for software, there are a number of more complex services that you might not expect to be delivered on this subscription basis.
For instance, did you know you can use storage servers ‘as a service’? Or development platforms that would otherwise cost thousands to bring into your organisation? What about your email servers?
All of these things can now be accessed via the cloud – meaning you’re simply using a tiny proportion of a larger company’s (think Google, Microsoft, Adobe, etc) infrastructure. The great news is, these companies take security very seriously – so while you might worry about having your data and systems stored elsewhere, they’re actually probably significantly safer than they would be on your own site.
Lease your tech
If you’re considering your software, platforms and parts of infrastructure as a service – why not consider paying for your hardware on a subscription style basis?
An increasing number of retailers and suppliers allow companies to lease business IT equipment for a monthly rental price that’s a fraction of the overall price tag. Will you end up paying a little more over the period of your lease? Possibly – but if that’s a sacrifice that puts cutting edge technology in the hands of the people who can make it work for your company, that’s likely to be a small price to pay…