How to Manage Your Small Business Network on a Dime

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In the world of IT and small business, it can get overwhelming very quickly when it’s just you and maybe a few employees running the whole show by yourselves. In addition to having to multitask, you may also find yourself spending more than you’d like on your small business network and the general infrastructure of your business. This can start to cut into your profits and in some cases, undermine the structure of your business entirely. Let’s look at some ways in which you can begin to cut costs, smartly delegate tasks, and ultimately make your business run more efficiently at a lower cost.

When it comes to making your small business network more efficient and more profitable the first thing you’re going to want to look at is the network of physical devices that you use to run your business. Your computer, printer, fax machine, router, and all the other hardware that is essential to running your business falls into this category. Go over these devices and determine which ones are needed and which ones are unnecessary (for starters, you can probably get rid of the fax machine).

The goal when doing this is streamlining. For example instead of having a printer, scanner, and fax machine–you could get an all-in-one device. Alternately, you could look up e-signature services online and eliminate this kind of hardware altogether which will help cut costs associated with paper, ink, and more. There are many services online that can perform the same functions without you having to spend as much money on them.

IT management software is another facet that may be holding you back. Depending on your business type, you may rely heavily on technology to function correctly or you might be fine with a sporadic failure, though I doubt that. The best software isn’t cheap either. In fact, 40 percent of IT managers say that their biggest obstacle is budget. So find ways to naturally circumvent this. Do your homework and find the best system for your small business before buying.

The next thing you are going to want to evaluate is your virtual network, in other words, your software. It’s no secret that the Microsoft Office Suite isn’t cheap. The good news is that older versions of this software are often much less expensive yet perform essentially the same tasks. You can also save money on this sort of software when buying a new computer by ensuring that you get one that is made for business and has the software you need already installed on it.

Another option is to toss out programs like these altogether, there are many alternatives to Microsoft Office. Consider trying free Google Docs, Spreadsheet and Presentation. These are free tools that not only have the power of paid programs, but they are all stored safely in the cloud.

In most cases cloud storage is the way to go as it tends to be very cheap. However, if this is outside your budget you may be better off setting up a LAN if all of your employees are working in the same office space. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons of each approach to discover what works best for you.

Speaking of employees, this is another facet of your small business you’ll have to evaluate. Depending on where you live it may be cheaper to hire virtual assistants rather than employees who will work with you in person. One of the main reasons for this is that when you hire an employee you may be responsible for a variety of things such as providing them with benefits. This can be avoided by hiring contractors instead of employees. A contractor, also known as a freelancer, will work on a task by task basis in most cases and will be responsible for doing their own taxes etc.

Lastly, draw up a sheet for your budget and ensure that every expense imaginable that you pay is on it. Go through every single expense and actively search online or speak with other small business owners about how you can reduce the cost. You’d be surprised at how many of your expenses can be lowered or eliminated altogether by using new technology or methodology that you haven’t thought of.

Ultimately cost cutting isn’t hard, it just takes attention to detail and close monitoring of your expenses. It also takes the willingness to look for new solutions even when you don’t know that there is a problem. This may sound counter intuitive but the bottom line is that you should regularly evaluate your budget and “trim the fat” as needed. Running your small business network on a dime is surprisingly easy when you take the time to make sure that everything from your employees/contractors to your data storage is as cost efficient as possible.