If you run your own business, February can be a time of significant financial reassessment. While the tax year ends in April, your own self-employed tax return will have been due by the end of January and many will enter the second month of the year feeling the scorch marks of a big hole burned in their pocket.

This may be particularly painful if 2022-23 was a good financial year and thus you had more tax to pay, but things have got harder since amid the cost of living crisis, which might have increased your costs while reducing the disposable income of your customers.

Of course, it always makes sense for any firm, especially a small one with a limited budget and smaller margins, to keep on top of its costs. One effective way of doing this is to constantly reassess your expenditure and find ways to save money and increase efficiency.

Don’t Cut The IT Budget

Somewhere along the line, consideration will hone in on your IT budget. You might ask if you are spending too much, or if there are services like specialist business support IT from outside experts that you might be able to manage in-house.

However, before you think about scaling back the amount of support services you use, it is important to consider how much you may need them to keep your IT systems working well.

It is true – thankfully – that most companies are not bedevilled by an operating system with inherent fatal flaws that will undermine their business. The Post Office scandal involving the Horizon accounting system shows just how dire the consequences can be if that happens.

Nonetheless, there is much else that can go wrong with an IT system, which might not lead to a national scandal, but can cause your company a lot of problems. Making sure you invest in good IT support is the best and most effective way to prevent them from happening, or resolve them quickly if they do.

Common IT Problems

An obvious problem will be your internet connection. Does your website sometimes go offline? Are important emails not getting through? If you operate an e-commerce company, does the system you use sometimes crash because the connection is faulty? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, getting help to fix the problem is an urgent matter.

IT security is another matter, which can arise from many different directions. In the first instance, a lack of training in using systems can lead to security lapses, which makes it easy for hackers to steal information or money, infect your systems with viruses, or mount a denial-of-service attack.

A second problem can be if there is a deliberate insider attack where one of your staff goes rogue and seeks to commit an illegal act. Without the necessary support to put safeguards in place, trace who is doing what on the system, and highlight unusual activity, such actions could be easier to accomplish and go undetected for longer, with worse consequences.

Thirdly, unless your IT security is updated regularly, even a system that worked very securely in the past could be breached as new techniques and vulnerabilities emerge and are exploited by the crooks.

A further problem is that of data storage. You may find that as you build up more data your capacity shrinks, which means you could find yourself running out. Good support can help you find solutions, either by adding more capacity to your existing storage, or going for new options like using the Cloud.

Keeping Up With The Competition

If your rivals are investing more in IT support than you, they will likely be offering better services than you. Their hardware will not be going out of date and they will be establishing new ways of meeting their customer needs, such as apps.

If you don’t have the expertise to do this in-house, or it is limited and your apps don’t work well, there is no doubt your competition will have a big advantage over you.

There may be all sorts of ways in which your firm can cut costs without compromising its operations. For example, if you rent your premises, you may find you can get a better deal elsewhere, or you don’t need to use so much space and can get somewhere that is cheaper and smaller.   

Quite simply, if you need to cut costs, your IT support should be the last thing you look at, unless you have very extensive in-house expertise. Reducing this could prove to be the ultimate false economy for your business.