Year in Review: 3 Takeaways for Small Business Owners

By Erik Day
Business.com / Strategy / Last Modified: January 9, 2018
Photo credit: ESB Professional/Shutterstock

Position your business for long-term growth and stability. Erik Day, vice president of Dell Small Business, highlights three areas of opportunity for small business owners.

Looking back at 2017, I've been lucky to work with and learn from small business owners across America.

These business owners face a number of challenges – from finding the right staff to securing financing – but their resourceful nature resulted in many success stories this year.

Now that 2018 is here, I want to take a moment to reflect on a few specific lessons – from strategy to technology to the big-picture outlook – that I hope will serve as inspiration for another great year in the small business community.

Not enough businesses have employees in the right tech roles

When you're running a small business, it's easy to get swamped. There's no shame in that – you're an ambitious self-starter and live for your company's success. But sometimes taking on more than you can handle means overwhelming yourself with responsibilities that should be handled by others.

According to a Salesforce small business report, 49 percent of small businesses say they spend too much time and money trying to decide what technology to use, which is often the result of non-tech experts making tech-related decisions.

When it comes to IT strategy, the lack of a designated tech-savvy team member is one reason 61 percent of small businesses ignore valuable IT solutions for their business.

On the other hand, small businesses that rush into hiring a chief technology officer (CTO) too early often end up with high costs and complicated IT strategies that go beyond their needs. Waiting to hire a CTO can save you precious capital (sometimes over $230,000 annually) and allows you gain insight from multiple voices.

One solution for accessing expert tech knowledge without hiring too soon is to seek help from an external tech advisor. Dell Small Business Advisors can help you understand your IT needs and come up with customized solutions to meet them.

Protecting your company's assets requires the right technology and mindset

Technology plays an important role in all types of businesses, and securing your key data is becoming increasingly critical. This is just as true for small businesses as it is for large corporations, yet the former often finds this more difficult to tackle given limited resources.

Earlier this year, I moderated a ransomware roundtable. One of the most impactful takeaways was just how much power hackers can gain over small businesses that don't implement adequate cybersecurity measures. Halfway through the year, we'd already seen major institutions like the U.K.'s National Health Service and the United States CIA hacked by various groups from around the globe.

Instead of waiting for a problem to arise and then reacting, you can boost the security of your small business by proactively assessing risks and making a plan for how to deal with any breaches. It doesn't have to be an intimidating process with the help of an expert. Setting up the right private and public cloud storage also plays a key role in keeping your company's valuable assets safe.

Millennial entrepreneurs are setting new standards for small business IT solutions

Young generations are always trendsetters. In August, we looked at how millennials are setting new standards for how and where technology is being used in business operations.

Having grown up in a tech-filled world, these individuals are inspiring companies to adopt cloud-based infrastructure and a mobile-first mentality. Others have directed this forward-thinking approach to entrepreneurship, with millennials accounting for 16 percent of small business owners in the United States.

Freelancing is key trend driving change in the worlds of business and employment. Back in March, I outlined how Americans – millennials in general – are embracing freelancing as a way to build fulfilling careers in which they call the shots. At the same time, both small and large businesses are using the freelance economy as a flexible resource to support their work, recognizing that freelancing creates unique IT needs on both sides of the equation.

The future is full of opportunity

With a new year comes new ideas, new tech and new growth. Since the start of 2017, we've seen advances in tools like artificial intelligence and virtual reality, which allows business owners to be forward thinking about how they approach new opportunities – a mindset we champion at Dell, too.

No one can predict the future, but I am confident that 2018 will be full of new opportunities for small businesses everywhere.

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