The majority of my clients are small- or micro-business owners, and most of them, like me, escaped from the corporate world in search of freedom, fame, fortune or at least a decent income and the option to work in pyjamas should they feel like it.
Few of us regret our moves. Most of us drop a bundle in salary at least in the first few years; it's a small sacrifice to pay for being your own boss.
There are cons as well as pros - for example there's no IT department when you're on your own and things go wrong. No hassles there, there are many computer repair places around or if your computer is new, there's a warranty claim. Best of all, if you have a teenager in the house that may solve some of your problems. Having a friend who loves building and fixing computers can be a boon too. Just remember to back up on a daily basis
in case things go horribly wrong. If you, like me, are an Apple user an appointment at the Genius Bar at your nearest Apple shop could fix your problem on the spot, depending on the problem.
If you're a member of a business association (and I belong to Ryde Business Forum
) you'll find there will undoubtedly be a fellow member in the IT category, either sales or repair or both. Seek this person out and get to know them. You'll be supporting the local economy if you use them, and that's always a good thing.
Remember placing a call to the IT department and waiting for hours or days for someone to come to your desk, spend all of 90 seconds sighing and clattering away on the keyboard and fixing your problem, then giving you a tired, knowing look that said you just didn't 'get' computers? These days if you have a smallish issue - let's say you've lost a printer driver - chances are you can find the answer on the internet. And if your computer has bigger issues and is not responding why not use your smart phone or iPad to try a solution before you head to the repair shop? Time is money as we know, and if it takes you an hour to sort the thing out yourself, rather than leaving your computer in a repair shop for a couple of days, that's money saved.
There's the pro side to no IT department, too. You can choose your own computer and the software that goes on it (paying for all this definitely falls in the con bucket, but consider leasing as everything bar the stamp duty is a tax deduction). In the corporate that I worked for, asking the company to buy you new software required a three-page Investment Proposal to be completed. Your justification had to be mighty to be allowed have anything more than Microsoft Office. As a solo flyer, if you can afford it, you can buy it. And I mean buy it. Don't get tempted to download a pirate copy or borrow your friend's version of Office or Photoshop. It's not worth the risk, and pirated copies can crash your system. Once you've lashed out on OEM software, the upgrades are reasonably priced.
The main thing to remember as a micro business owner is that you are not alone. Whether it's a contact from a business association or help you've found on an internet forum, you have an IT department you can call on. YOU don't have to be IT.
What tips do you have for managing your IT needs? Are there websites which you have found invaluable? Sites or shops with fantastic bargains and service? Software you just can't do without? And what are some of your horror stories? (Come on, we all have them. You can be anonymous!) Answers on a postcard please, or simply leave a comment below.