I read a great post the other day by Scott Hanselman entitled Painful Reminder: Focus on Core Competencies (and Back Stuff Up). I’ve been thinking about it for a day or so now and I couldn’t agree more with what he says. The two main points are Backup Your Stuff or Die and Do What You’re Good at and Let Folks Do What They’re Good at.
In my opinion, both of these points are HIGHLY applicable to small businesses. Back in the day, we technology consultants typically steered growing businesses to host their email in house and to have servers locally installed for file and printer sharing. At the time, it was really the only option in most cases.
Business owners don’t start companies to worry about servers and email problems and such. They start because they have an idea that they are passionate about (or will make them rich…). The technology of today has finally caught up with this reality. We can have other people worry about the details and get to work on the business.
So what the heck am I babbling on about, exactly? An example, if you will:
Every business needs email, right? (the answer is yes.) So you have some choices to make. You can buy a server, software for the server, software to run on my desktops and laptops and then pay some technology company (or some guy that dresses funny who works out of his basement) to support all of the aforementioned. (that’s the old way) OR you can pay a monthly fee to access virtually all of the same functionality through your browser, mobile phone, or in some cases connected software that runs on your laptop or desktop. NO server hardware cost, NO server software cost, no funny dressed guy to pay.
There are several options along this line. (The buzzword being thrown around a lot is Software As A Service (SaaS) or more recently Cloud Computing.) Salesforce.com (one of the first in this arena) will run all of your Customer Relationship stuff, Google Apps will let you do all kinds of cool Outlook-type things, and Microsoft Online Services has a full blown Office, Exchange and CRM software offering.
All of these products are slick, fairly inexpensive and offer a TON of functionality that will let you keep your focus where it should be…growing your business.
I’ll be going over these services in more details in the next little bit, so stay tuned!