What about the little guy?

small-businessEarlier this month I spent a little time giving a presentation to a group of small business owners who wanted someone to come give a talk on “Streamlining your business with Technology”.  Now, that’s a really broad topic and I wasn’t given a lot more guidance than that but as I got to thinking about it I realized what a small business needs is likely to be a microcosm of what larger corporations struggle with every day.

Consider some of the major topics that the CIO of a large corporation is likely to be thinking about today. Not all the topics will be the same but, I'd wager that any CIO is giving at least some thought to topics like:

  • What does the cloud mean and should I be moving things there?
  • Is my company data secure and what is my plan for disaster recovery?
  • How do I keep track of all my contacts, prospects and sales leads?
  • How do I reduce the amount of paper my business deals with?

The list obviously could go on and on but, I’m confident you get the point.  The scale and the impact of these decisions might be different for small businesses vs larger corporations but the fundamental issues remain largely the same.  Really, the fundamental issues don’t really start changing until you start factoring in things like compliance (HIPAA, SOX, FDA, etc). Most small businesses aren't concerned with those sorts of things but, many larger corporations are.

The real difference

To me, the most striking difference between the world of small business and the larger corporate world is resources.  Take that first question above.  Who will provide guidance on a question like that for a sole proprietor running a 2 person photography studio?  Even of the owner of a business can get answers, who is going to implement those answers?  For example, would it be a good idea for the owner of a small photography studio to move their servers and storage to something cloud-based?  Chances are good that the answer is Yes.  Now, who is going to do that work cheaply enough for the owner of the studio to afford it?

What’s the answer

Usually when I create one of these little articles I have an answer or some recommendations at the end.  In this case, I don’t have a good answer.  There is certainly no lack of solutions out there for the small business to use to streamline their business but arriving at a recommendation and then implementing that recommendation is a truly daunting task for the average small business owner.  As a small business owner myself I can appreciate the problem but being a technologist, the answer for me is far easier.  So, sadly, I don’t have a great answer here but it certainly seems like a problem worth solving.