Ambitious SMEs - Top tips for ICT

If you're running an ambitious small or medium size business, then you've got an abundance of drive and passion. You're someone who isn't afraid to have a go and are prepared to juggle many roles simultaneously. Alongside sales, marketing, finance, production, you also wear a hat for information and communications technology (ICT).

So we've put together a few top tips on how to make the most of ICT. And scroll down to the bottom of the page for a couple of great documents that our partners have put together about online marketing and getting real results from your website.

  1. Have a strategy. It's essential for big companies, and it makes sense for smaller businesses too. We think it's one of the most useful things you can do to help you make decisions about technology. It can be as simple as 'We will refresh all computers every three years, work in ways that cut data duplication, adopt Microsoft software that is at least six months post-launch as our company standard, and choose to run services including backup internally rather than with outside providers. We will also put aside a budget each year for discretionary and experimental technology.' This doesn't mean you can't have a new iPad, but it wouldn't be at the expense of other essential equipment.

  2. You don't want to look clumsy. Love or hate Microsoft, their Office package is the standard for producing documents. If you choose different software and send documents to clients that look messy because of conversion problems or even worse which can't be opened, is it a risk you really want to take? Unless prices are prohibitive, we think it's good to match how your partners work, which usually means buying Office and using it.

    You'll want to make the right impression too with email addresses, Twitter and Skype identities, which probably means keeping the 'krazeegurl34' identity for your private contacts. And watch out for automated footers  do your clients want to know that you use 'free anti virus from ABC' or 'how to add emoticons with wonda-mail'?

  3. Not safe for home. Your office computers and laptops are business machines for work. We suggest getting a separate one for sharing with the family. You don't need the row that comes from thinking that someone else has inadvertently deleted data or otherwise messed up your machine (note - quite often they've done nothing wrong, but we all know that the suspicion lasts for a long time!).

  4. What could possibly go wrong? Consider the worst thing that could happen to your data and then protect against it. Stolen laptop? Office blaze? What data is at risk and how do you recover it?

  5. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. Think about the lifetime support for any equipment you buy ... is it easy to get replacement parts, especially if you're buying an unbranded machine? Consider spending extra on next day on-site warranties, or using outside companies to manage your systems.

  6. There's an app for that. Lots of software is available on the internet and can be excellent for use by small businesses; much of it free or inexpensive. Check the reviews for the software you are interested in on websites such as Download.com before installing. And of course ignore any emails suggesting you download a PC tune-up package or another ... it's more likely than not to be spam leading you to a virus.

  7. Make the most of your website. Our partners have put together some helpful documents about online marketing and how to get real results online (PDF format - as they're substantial documents it's best to download them to view them).

If you have any other useful tips, please email them to us at hello@4000rpmNOSPAM.co.uk (remove the obvious bit inserted to stop junk mail) so that we can add them to our list.