Fortunately, there are many ways for small businesses to access IT expertise even without a full time technology expert on the payroll. Educating yourself on basic technology issues that affect small businesses can go a long way toward helping you navigate IT problems that arise. Many Small Business Development Centers offer free or low-cost technology training. You can also look into what other local business organizations and chambers of commerce have on tap in the realm of technology training.
Some of the responsibility that comes from managing your IT resources also can be relieved by transitioning from on-premise to cloud-based solutions for email, productivity and collaboration tools. Using cloud-based solutions means you access your technology infrastructure online rather than deploying software and physical servers in your office. The beauty of running your IT services in the cloud is that you get all the functionality of traditional on-premise software, without the responsibility for updating, protecting and maintaining physical software and hardware. For example, with Office 365, you get anywhere access to cloud-based email, web conferencing, file sharing and Office Web Apps, as well as a guarantee of 99.9 percent uptime. You can sign up for a free 90-day trial of Office 365 through the end of February 2013.
For common computing issues, you may be able to find support at the Microsoft Fix it Solution Center. This site contains free, automated solutions for numerous common issues, including those related to security, privacy, performance, errors and crashes. Simply choose your problem area on the main menu, and the site’s diagnostic tool will examine, determine and solve your issue while providing recommended next steps.
Finally, when it comes to determining which IT solutions your business needs, the Microsoft Business Hub provides useful tools and technology advice, including Insider Edge Online Events that can help you identify and implement the appropriate technology that best suits your small business’ needs. For more in-depth support, visit the Support page on Microsoft Business Hub to connect with a Microsoft partner who specializes in serving the technology needs of small businesses.
It certainly isn’t wrong to hope that one day your business will be able to support dedicated IT staff. In the meantime, try implementing the strategies mentioned and you just might find being your own IT department isn’t as difficult as you think.
For more tips and information on how technology can support you and your business, follow me on Twitterhttp://twitter.com/Cindy_Bates) or follow Microsoft SMB on Twitter (@MicrosoftSMB) and Facebook (Microsoft SMB).