There are some universal truths that apply to everyone starting up in business. Generally, you’ll wish you had a lot more money in the bank, probably more hours in the day – and a better grasp of exactly what’s happening with and what can be done with your IT systems.
The thing is, no two startups are the same – and therefore, no two startup IT setups are the same – so there’s no guidebook that tells you exactly what you should have in place.
Of course, there’s no substitute for a good all-round working knowledge of IT networks – but if you don’t have the time to do a lot of in-depth reading, don’t worry. We’ve put together some info around the 4 most common startup IT issues – and offered up a few solutions that’ll help you weather the storm!
1. Is collaboration Messy?
For a great number of startup companies, collaboration is a problem. It’s hard to say whether that’s because you’re putting new people together and hoping they immediately gel – or simply because you don’t have the tools for them to work effectively with one another – but IT is sometimes a sticking point.
The thing is, traditional ways of collaborating on projects can be a little untidy – relying on lengthy email conversations, spreadsheets being modified and circulated, printed copies being shared and lost – and so on. Interestingly, remote workers are shown to collaborate with their peers more effectively than those who share and office, 10% more effectively in fact – and it’s down to IT.
The right IT technology ups productivity enormously – and there are tools which will allow you to collaborate in this way regardless of budget. If your budget is small, you should at least look at shared storage and collaboration through a well set-up Google Drive or OneDrive – but if funds allow, having a network configured to allow seamless access across multiple sites is the very best way to go.
If your startup is going to fly, you’re going to need everyone to be pulling in the same direction – and IT will definitely help you with that.
2. Is Your Network Struggling?
There are some parts of IT infrastructure that are almost unnegotiable in a business – and for many people, their internet circuit connection is one of those things.
Now, the problem is, this unwillingness to rock the boat and potentially face downtime as you change is enough to put people off finding the very best service for them – but that can hinder your IT system’s ability to support business growth.
There are some important questions to ask yourself around your internet connection and ISP, including:
- Has our service provider ever suggested a change to better suit our needs?
- Does our service provider solve problems quickly and have us back online?
- Does our current set up allow us the freedom to grow our IT capabilities?
The answers to these questions should be yes – so, if you’re not getting the best service, start looking for a provider who’ll focus more on your requirements. The result could unlock growth potential, fewer hours lost to downtime and a better end user experience.
3. Not Sure If Your Data Is Secure?
The ways that we hold and use data have changed incredibly over the last decade – and will undoubtedly continue to do so.
Modern data protection laws can present a problem for startups – the law has very few grey areas – so you’re either up and running with the requirements straight out of the gate – or you’re breaking the law; which has some significant penalties.
If you want to protect yourself, you need to be sure that you’re handling sensitive information in the right way – and fortunately, the sooner you put the proper practices into place, the easier your on-going data security will be.
You need to look at the way your company holds data, asking:
- What information do we hold?
- How it is stored?
- Why do we need this data?
- Who can access it?
- How is it protected?
You’ll need to dig deep too. While there’s likely to be areas where a significant chunk of your sensitive data is held, there are other places you might not immediately think of – so make sure no stone is left unturned.
When you’ve got answers to these questions, you need to use an objective eye to consider weaknesses – and studies show that the overwhelming majority weaknesses are found when human’s interact with data – so employee interaction points are always a good place to begin.
Interestingly, most online storage locations comply with the strictest data protection laws in the world, so you’ll find centrally held data is generally your most safe. If you’re not sure about what you hold locally, then talking to an IT security team should be your next step. Most managed service providers have a full set of security tools under their belt – so they’ll be able to advise – and while it’s likely to cost you, it’ll be nowhere near the magnitude of the fines you could face if your sensitive data is breached.
4. Struggling with Downtime?
IT downtime is quite literally a business killer. Losing your connection or access to your most important applications – even if that’s just for a short period of time – can see enormous amounts of money wiped off your bottom line.
In fact, the figures are more staggering than most people think – a recent survey of businesses revealed the hourly cost of downtime to be in excess of £100,000 per hour – and while that average might sound a little large for smaller businesses, you’ve got to remember that while you’re unable to access your systems, you’re losing business, paying for support, paying staff – and so on.
If downtime is costing your business anything at all – it’s too much – but a good managed service provider will be able to help. When you work with a managed service provider, they’ll make an uptime guarantee as part of their service level agreement. No one can promise 100% – after all, multi-billion-dollar companies like Facebook still see downtime – but you’ll find 99%+ easily. For many startups, unreliable IT is an area where productivity, profit and time leaks out – but it doesn’t have to be with the right people supporting you.