IT Rescue

Let the Pros Handle Your Small Business Technology

While most small-business owners depend on computer technology, many find it difficult to keep up with the constant churn of software, hardware, and Web application updates.

You can’t afford to assume that your PCs, laptops, networks, and peripherals are operating adequately for your needs, but neither should you upgrade simply for the sake of upgrading. Many people come to regret purchasing bargain hardware that doesn’t perform as promised, or using unproven software that crashes on a regular basis. Then there are the email accounts that attract only spam, and Web sites that frustrate and discourage customers.

Fortunately, there are now hundreds of network computer and IT consultants who specialize in working with small companies. In fact, the vast majority are entrepreneurs just like you!

An outside tech expert can become a vital extension of your business, almost like a trusted attorney or   accountant. Not just anyone with a little PC smarts will do, however. You’ll want someone who does this full time for you and other clients rather than a person who merely dabbles in computers on the side.

To find the right person, develop a detailed list of your needs and determine which work arrangement would work best. Would you like your consultant to work part time, for instance, or on an on-call or project basis? Look for someone who understands your type of business. He or she should also be able to explain the work in plain English so you or someone else at your company can learn how it all works.

Experience with businesses of your size is also important. Someone who works only with big companies may not be familiar with the best solutions for you. You should tap your independent tech guru for advice before making hardware or software purchases. A few minutes on the phone can prevent costly mistakes.

A good place to find IT consultants for your small business is the non-profit Independent Computer Consultants Association. The group’s website (www.icca.org) offers a search feature enabling visitors to identify consultants by location or special skills. You can also find IT consultants via your local chamber of commerce. Note that a consultant need not be in your geographic area to benefit your firm.

Depending on your needs, you may be able to work with someone entirely by phone and/or email. To learn more about technology issues facing your small business, contact a SCORE chapter in your area or visit the organization online at www.score.org.

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