Every owner of a small business will know that it can be a challenge to cover every aspect, whether it’s the marketing or accounts, staff recruitment, or premises and equipment. Another vital area is the role of IT support. It’s not just about hiring someone who can solve your technical problems, but also finding an individual with a personality and work ethic that fits into your company’s culture.
If you get the right people your computers will do what they’re supposed to do each day, but if you don’t there may be glitches, viruses, or downtime that will cost you money. Whether you’re running a one-person show or have fifty employees on staff, here are some tips on how to find the most suitable IT support for your small business.
Understand IT Support
Basically, it can be provided by an internal employee/s or an outside firm or individual who specializes in businesses such as yours. IT support doesn’t just fix computers and help employees use the internet properly; it also manages a business’s servers.
The support staff can help you when you are having issues with your PC or passwords. They can also assist with installing and running programs (and software updates) on your small office network computers. On a day-to-day basis, IT support helps companies make sure the PCs are running smoothly and experiencing good internet connections.
Research The Internet
There are loads of things that you can learn about potential providers by going online, including their qualifications and experience. There may be a list of companies that they work for, which can be a good indication of their skills levels.
London is a central hub for many activities – be it education, the arts, or international fine dining. If you need small business IT support in London you can learn from their websites whether they offer dedicated account managers, helpdesk support portals, or free cloud antivirus protection. There’s also information on things like free user awareness training, unlimited phone, and remote support, or disaster recovery assessments.
Understand Your Specific Requirements
Every small business is different, and an agency that can effectively service a rival may not be suitable for you. If a support company is highly flexible, they may provide a better bespoke service that is customized for your requirements.
Ask yourself some key questions:
- Do you need support 24/7 or just 9-5 Mondays to Fridays?
- Do you want to employ someone onsite, or do you wish to outsource?
- Do you use Windows or Mac?
- Do you want free internet use?
- Do you want onsite visits during emergencies?
Evaluate Your Budget
Your spending capacity will be crucial to the process, both initially and on a long-term basis. If funds are limited you may not be able to cover every aspect of your IT, and you may only receive limited levels of support.
The security aspect should be paramount, however, to protect you from external threats. They include hackers, phishing attacks, malware, and viruses. Make sure that sufficient protective measures will be put in place (for instance, firewalls (that monitor incoming and outgoing traffic), and antivirus software).
Read The Reviews And Speak To Other Clients
When you read each provider’s website, you may be able to access customer reviews. They can provide an honest look at what each company is like, the services they provide, and how they treat their clients. It may be that it’s a new IT support company that doesn’t yet have online testimonials from its clients. In this instance, you should request a written testimonial from a customer before you decide.
If you know another company that is already using this agency, reach out to them and request their extra input. You should be able to get some idea as to whether they are satisfied with its services. Also, contact other companies (especially if they are similar to yours) and ask them who is providing their IT support.
Prepare For The Initial Discussion
When you have a formal chat or interview with a potential support provider, make sure you have some pre-prepared questions. They may include:
- How long have you been operating?
- What types of small businesses and companies do you work with?
- Do I get unlimited support calls or is there a limit per month/quarter/year?
It’s important to know how much the provider will charge and to request a formal quotation (with no hidden/extra fees). If possible, bring along someone else who can provide another set of eyes and ears during the discussions.
Once you’ve done your initial research, approach at least three different companies. If your final choice is an informed and wise one, your IT will receive the support that it truly needs. In turn, you’ll be able to focus on the continuing success and growth of your small business.