Small businesses are the backbone of the Canadian economy. There are nearly 1.2 million small businesses based in Canada, making up 69.7 percent of the overall working population, according to the Business Development Bank of Canada. But while new businesses launch every month, plenty close during that same time. It’s rough going out there, and few small businesses survive their early years.
One of the keys to thriving as a small business is IT, which is why an IT assessment for small businesses is essential in today’s competitive market. New technologies majorly impact future growth, but a Synergy report shows that small business owners understand that changing technology needs and finding products and services to meet those needs are a top challenge. IT assessments can help.
IT matters for every business—big or small
Why do entrepreneurs start businesses? Because they’re passionate and knowledgeable about what they’re selling, whether it’s boutique clothing, children’s toys, sporting gear, or sandwiches. This expertise doesn’t always translate into the realm of IT, but a strong IT strategy and technology stack can prove just as essential to success as location or marketing.
Technology keeps everything running. It drives organization, management, and efficiency, so business owners can lower their overhead and deliver the best customer experience. Accounting systems, inventory management and security, customer communication, payment processing, HR onboarding, scheduling, logistics—all of these core processes can and should be digitized. Businesses that don’t embrace technology risk being left in the dust of their tech-savvy competitors.
Performing an IT assessment for small businesses
In the past few years, we’ve seen a total flowering of technology solutions geared toward small businesses. Now, we have almost too many options, rather than not enough. It can feel overwhelming, with small and midsize business (SMB) owners unsure about their needs, where they fall short, and what providers to use.
How do you pick from eight accounting platforms? How do you know if your inventory management software really boosts efficiency? Is your tech stack scalable if you expand? Do you have glaring security vulnerabilities? These questions aren’t easy to answer—which is why entrepreneurs should conduct an IT assessment for small businesses. Business owners can’t fix problems they don’t realize exist.
An IT assessment for small businesses is a little like getting a physical at the doctor. You may look or feel fine, but the tests, checks, and opinion of a professional can reveal underlying issues and areas for improvement that may not be obvious. Earlier this year, NSI—a leader in providing managed IT services to businesses—announced it created an interactive assessment to help small business owners determine their IT needs. In NSI’s tool, users answer online questions about their IT configurations and issues. When it finishes, the Business IT Grader dishes out actionable recommendations and resources.
HP offers security assessment services, as well, which help SMBs identify the combination of technical, resource, and process controls they can use to manage security risks. They take a more hands-on approach, pairing businesses with a security consultant to perform an in-depth assessment.
Know your tech
To run a strong and stable business, business owners need to know their tech needs inside and out, down to the detail. Problems or gaps simmering under the surface can explode in catastrophic ways if left unaddressed. A security flaw can turn into a hack that slams a shop’s reputation and erodes customer trust. Sluggish employee onboarding can lead to poor customer service. Issues with an inventory management system can turn into wasted money or a back-order crisis.
An IT assessment for small businesses can help owners strengthen their IT and security, eliminate inefficiencies, make improvements that matter, set priorities, allocate costs, and save money. The impact can prove significant. The best part? These assessments don’t require entrepreneurs to be technology experts or continue groping around in the dark to figure out what to do. They provide expertise and objectivity, so business owners can focus on what matters most and what they’re best at—running their business.
Even though the tech world grows at an incredible rate and competition is steep, organizations can come together to share knowledge and offer services to easily assess their needs. It’s through collaboration, community, and the willingness to ask for support that small businesses can reach their full potential.