I am not Irish but sad to read today the Irish economy has gone into recession. Such moments for any country, any business can lead to some well thought out changes and some rather nasty mistakes.
From a small business tech perspective some of the areas you could look at are…
AntiVirus and Protection
Remember not to skip on these areas, not only do you need to consider costs, you need to make sure you have the proper protection right for your business. However if you have an employee who uses Windows XP or Vista just for Email, Excel, Word and Internet access consider a linux alternative such as Ubuntu coupled with OpenOffice and Firefox to help reduce costs (also better in my opinion).
Do you use an email address supplied by Google, Yahoo, MSN or your ISP for your business? Consider the benefits of using a domain name instead. yourbusiness.com
Create a house style (formatting etc) for your business, web site, update your marketing material, business cards etc. Does your logo look dated (don’t buy an expensive logo, lots of quality cheaper options these days)? Perhaps time for a change.
Give brand identities and house styles some research and find out how you can adapt advice to your business if beneficial. Whatever you do, look at how your are marketing your business.
Chances are your home workers have a broadband connection and your office also. A cheap £10 headset and skype and you could perform skype to skype calls for the cost of your bandwidth. Cheaper than calling someones mobile.
If you have an intranet do you use Dreamweaver to update it? Many companies pay someone to setup an intranet and then they are resold Dreamweaver by the same people to update it themselves. If you have an inhouse tech consider using free alternatives to use on your server such as nanocms, website baker or joomla depending on your requirements. Then don’t bother with buying or updating dreamweaver.
Some people post brochures like confetti and this might be justified for your business. However see if an initial PDF version of your marketing material might be a good replacement in some situations and not affect sales leads. For instance a word document can easily be converted to adobe pdf format using open office. If you have a scanner lying around you could also use that and then export to pdf using free software from the internet.
Do any of your staff really need new computers for a while? A clean up, defrag, removal of wallpaper etc can breath new life into many computers. We will post entries on how to do this in the future.
Does your server need to be windows, with expensive yearly software updates and paying for an expensive support contract? Perhaps research if there is a good linux firm nearby that can help you look into alternatives such as linux and whether it will save your business money.
Need to buy or upgrade? Think open source! Open Office might be the ideal alternative to your excel, word and presentation requirements. Dia might meet your flow chart requirements and Photoshop is overkill if someone just needs to do simple graphics edits, try the badly named Gimp.
Hunt around for better deals for your tech requirements. CD’s for backup might be convenient to buy from down the road, but are they cheaper from an online supplier and just as good? Again the same for stationary, worth shopping around.
If your support staff or sales staff have some spare time in their day, get them to go through the contact management database and contact customers to see if they need help. This can generate extra work I know, but also can generate stronger relationships, repeat sales or referrals. For instance does your company make software? Perhaps a customer doesn’t know there is a free .x update that gives new features and improves performance?
Web Sites and Hosting
Look at updating your web site with new content or getting a web site if you don’t have one. A web site need not cost a fortune or look like it was done by a budding amateur who also happens to be your friends son. There are some reasonably priced hosting solutions around that provide good performance and decent web designers who don’t charge a fortune.
Web Site: Search Engine Optimization
Everyone seems to think this costs a fortune, but it does not have to! Do you have an inhouse tech team? Setup a team from across your small business to look at how you can improve your web sites SEO. If you had a web site designed that you can update yourself, then a technical support person should be able to make a copy, put it on a development machine for you to use as part of the project before you update the main site. Easyphp is ideal for Microsoft Windows for such situations.
I am sure this list could go on and on. Please leave comments with advice and feedback.