3 Feb 2016

One of the best ways to learn in life is through mistakes. But a smarter way is to learn from other people's mistake. This is especially true, when it comes to business where mistakes can be costly and in extreme circumstances you can even lose your business.

The key to avoiding mistakes is knowledge; whether this is through outsourcing tasks to experts or researching certain topics yourself. Unfortunately, given the ever changing nature of IT, small-medium businesses often make costly IT mistakes. To help your business avoid these mistakes, we have compiled a list of five common IT mistakes that small-medium businesses make.

1.   Not making your website mobile friendly

Did you know in April this year Google changed its search engine algorithm so that websites that were mobile friendly were boosted in the results? In other words: if your website isn't mobile friendly, the chances of you showing up in Google searches decreases.

But that's not the only reason to make sure your website is mobile friendly. Having a mobile friendly site improves user experience and increases the average time spent on your site. This is crucial in converting website visitors to customers, especially if you have an e-commerce component to your website. Or providing superior online customer service experience.

2.   Falling behind on emerging technologies

Investing in technology for your business is great, but only if it is the right technology. Often businesses, both big and small, are getting their IT strategy wrong and pumping money into IT solutions that aren't best for their business. Maybe this is to save money, because of a lack of knowledge, or because the project's budget wasn't big enough to invest in the best solution. Whatever the reasons, choosing the wrong technologies is costly in the long run. Unfortunately it is becoming so common it has even earned itself the label "technical debt". 

This is why staying on top of emerging technologies for your industry is crucial. Having the right technologies in place can improve productivity, minimise risks, increase sales and decrease costs. As you can see, the benefits are huge. If you don't have the time or expertise, then choose an IT partner who you can trust.

3.   Dismissing security threats because you think you're too small

Whilst you might not think that your business is large enough to be a target for cyber criminals, there are lots of reasons why that may not be true:

  • Your data is almost certainly more valuable than you think;
  • Your business is an easier target because you probably don't have an IT security solution constantly monitoring your network;
  • If you do business with a larger company, you probably make the perfect entry point for a hacker to launch an attack on your business partner; and
  • Remember, a lot of security incidents are untargeted (CryptoLocker Ransomware is perhaps the most famous recent example).

No matter the size of your organisation, it is important to establish a culture which is aware of IT security threats. Make sure your employees know how to protect the data on their computers, tablets, and smartphones and teach them about the dangers of putting personally identifiable information on the Internet.

Security is always a trade-off between being safe and being usable. Try not to come up with overly complicated and convoluted security policies. Keep it simple and focus on the areas which have a significant impact.

To help with this, the Australian Government has prepared a list of the top 35 strategies and ranked them based on their effectiveness. We recommend that small-medium business firstly focus on the top four items. Click here for the list.

4.   Not knowing your privacy obligations

These days all businesses seem to be collecting some sort of personal data. Even industries with low adoption of technology such as hairdressing want to know your address, email and contact number. But do you know the lawful way to collect and protect this personal data?

If nothing else, it is paramount small-medium businesses read and understand the Australian Privacy Principles, which can be found here. And it's not just customer details you need to keep safe, it is also important to protect your staff's personal information.

Getting this wrong could be costly. Australian businesses can be fined up to $1.7 million per breach of the regulations.

 5.   Not having a disaster recovery plan

While earthquakes a rare in Australia, fires, floods, mass power outages, theft and cyclones aren't (depending on where you live, of course). This is why it is fundamental to have a disaster recovery plan. Statistics say that many businesses that fail to plan for a disaster struggle to recover and often close within a few years of the disaster occurring.

But this doesn't have to be the case. Engage a third party IT specialist to review and provide advice about preparing for the worst case scenario.

If you are worried your business might be making other IT mistakes, call us on (02) 6245 7999 or email us by clicking here and we can discuss your business's IT situation, obligation free.

We provide software solutions to companies' right across Australia and provide Managed IT Support to organisations in Canberra and surrounding regions. 

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