While staying low-tech may seem like a smart way to maintain your small business’s profit margins, failing to keep up with the times could do your business more harm than good. Not only does outdated technology affect your small business’s productivity, but it also affects your reputation.
Why Staying Modern Matters
While you may think your decade-old website and paper filing systems work just fine, your customers won’t necessarily agree. When your business uses outdated technology, customers are left wondering where else you’re cutting corners.
Outdated tech is also simply inefficient. If the cost of upgrading to digital file storage scares you, consider the cost of employees spending hours every week searching for documents. Likewise, outdated software slows employee productivity and constrains your business’s growth potential.
Outdated technology is also a security risk. Older technology is more vulnerable to cyberattacks that put business and customer data at risk. As consumers become more security-conscious, organizations that fail to adopt security measures will struggle to attract business.
Affordable Technology Upgrades for Small Business
If you want to keep up with competitors and maintain a good reputation with customers, staying modern is a must. If you’re worried about the costs of upgrading business technology, consider these cost-effective solutions to your company’s technological shortcomings.
Cybersecurity on a Budget
If your business is still using a paper filing system, transitioning to digital file storage is a must. However, digital storage also introduces new security concerns. Once your business’s data is connected to the internet, it’s vulnerable to attacks from malicious actors.
Basic cybersecurity measures go a long way in protecting your company’s data. Updating operating systems and apps on-schedule is free, and the leading antivirus software costs as little as $60 per year. Small businesses should also ensure their payment processing complies with PCI-DSS standards. Luckily, payment merchants make compliance easy and affordable.
While these measures are important, they can’t prevent 100 percent of cyberattacks. If your business is targeted by a cyberattack — as many small businesses are — you’ll want a data recovery pro on-call so you can get back to business with minimal downtime. For most small businesses, outsourcing to a data recovery firm such as Secure Data Recovery costs significantly less than an in-house cybersecurity expert.
A Better Solution to Business Phones
Traditional phone systems were once a must for small businesses. However, as companies move toward remote hiring and customers expect even faster response times, relying on office phones alone is no longer a practical option.
While it’s possible to forward landline calls to a cell phone, budget-minded business owners should consider ditching the landline entirely and exclusively using cell phones. Unlimited cell phone plans are cheaper than ever, making worrying about overage charges a thing of the past. Verizon’s Business Unlimited plan, for example, covers up to five lines for as little as $30 a month per line. That’s similar to what you’d pay for landline service, but unlike landlines, cell phones are business tools with access to email, digital files, and cloud-based software.
Alternatives to Enterprise Software
Enterprise software solutions can be a nightmare for small business owners. While the right software helps your business stay efficient, the cost of purchasing, implementing, and maintaining enterprise software has a big impact on your bottom line.
Luckily, the boom in software-as-a-service has made it much more affordable for businesses to access the software they need to stay competitive. Instead of requiring a large up-front investment, SaaS tools charge monthly subscription fees to users. In exchange for subscription costs, businesses gain access to useful tools without taking on the responsibility of maintaining them. While the right SaaS solutions for your business depend on the industry, tools like cloud-based accounting software are useful no matter what field you’re in.
As you can see, bringing your small business into the 21st century doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Not only are these tech upgrades affordable, but they can also improve your business’s productivity and reputation. When you take steps to make your small business more secure and efficient, your customers will notice the difference.
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Written by Gloria Martinez of WomenLed.org