A Guide to Managed IT Services for Small Businesses

by | May 24, 2022

When running a small business, there are always a lot of tasks to juggle. IT issues will often pop up at the most inconvenient times, acting as both a distraction and a possible setback. With 31.7 million small businesses in the US representing 47.1% of the total workforce, IT problems are common across many industries. Although they take up a significant part of the economy, their challenges are more impactful due to their size.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 80% of small businesses make it through their first year. 50% are around after five years. And this progressively drops to a 20-year 15% survival rate. Several factors create those rates. There’s a globally high technology adoption rate, where 93% of adults use the internet, making more than just a storefront needed. Small businesses are expected to have an online presence too.

With the internet being essential, it’s also exposed small businesses to more threats than ever before. Alarmingly, 60% of hacked small businesses go out of business within six months. Whether attempting to steal credit card information or ransoming valuable data, they can damage companies and customers alike. That has created a demand for managed IT services for small businesses.

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What Is a Small Business?

A small business is an independently owned and operated company with fewer employees and revenue than a standard-sized business. They often focus on a specific commercial industry or economic sector. This targeted approach allows them to compete with larger organizations and doesn’t require as much revenue to stay profitable.

What Are Managed IT Services for Small Businesses?

Managed IT services offer third-party support with any IT-related issue or project, bringing broader expertise to small businesses. That removes the need for in-house IT staff. Since they work with multiple clients across many industries, they have insight into the latest issues and innovations. They can react to problems as they develop and proactively implement new hardware and solutions to help companies stay competitive.

What Types of Services Can They Provide?

MSPs can provide many types of IT services requested by small businesses. Consultations and assessments are also available for those unsure of what they need. These are catered to the company’s needs, goals, and future expectations. Through this process, they can prioritize areas of greater improvement while minimizing costs by not implementing unneeded solutions. Some of the services offered are:

  • Cybersecurity
  • IT consulting
  • Assessments
  • 24/7 monitoring
  • Cloud storage
  • Data recovery
  • Software training
  • IT compliance
  • Hardware upgrades
  • Network overhauls
  • IT help desk support

IT consultants can recommend services based on their needs, allowing small businesses to receive customized support. Every company has unique functions or products, which means IT can benefit them diversly. Managed IT services aim to match the solutions to those specialized needs.

Why Not Just Use In-house IT?

Many small businesses have at least one person to rely on for basic IT needs. Whether they’re a trained IT engineer or simply the most experienced person in the room, there’s a limitation to the time, resources, and knowledge to handle major problems and provide routine support. That can be inefficient and can have severe consequences if something is outside the scope of what they can address.

Hiring internal IT staff can also be an expensive and risky approach. It requires upfront funding to get them trained and integrated. An IT specialist can cost an average of $54,495 a year, while the median for cybersecurity experts is $120,708 annually. That can go upward depending on location, demand, and experience. Since they’re on staff payroll, they’re also being paid for lull periods when there’s nothing to do.

Since the staff member is internally trained, all the risk and liability go to the small business. If they’re dismissed, it requires restarting the process anew. It can take anywhere from 8 to 26 weeks for a new worker to reach full productivity. IT professionals are on the higher end of that scale.

Besides those factors, they may also be missing the knowledge necessary to handle every problem. Their understanding centers on the company’s focus areas, preventing them from acquiring the broader experience of small business outsourced IT. As a result, in-house staff isn’t always equipped to handle every problem.

Top 7 Challenges Faced by Small Businesses

Small businesses face many challenges beyond what they can quickly solve as a self-run entity. These can come in many shapes and sizes. Some can be prepared for, while others may be unexpected and only happen in specific situations.

Cybersecurity

Most organizations store a lot of valuable information. There’s a variety of threats, like viruses, ransomware, and hackers whose goal is to exploit any weaknesses they can find. Whether it’s ransoming a database or collecting information to sell to third parties, the end goal of cybercriminals is to make money off the small business’s data.

Technology changes

Technology continues to change steadily, with innovations shifting the way businesses, customers, and clients interact. Online shopping is one example, with 74% of adults doing it in some form. Having an online presence and website-based retail has become important for those who don’t visit in person.

Money management

There are a lot of risks with starting up a company, and a lot of them revolve around money management. Most people don’t have the luxury of significant outside investments, meaning their success or failure relies on their ability to be profitable. Having the proper accounting and payroll tools can go a long way in tracking money and costs.

Overworking

Employees and owners alike may have to wear many hats within a small business. That means filling in multiple roles to keep things functional, leading to overworking and higher fatigue without proper workload management. In the long run, this can be damaging to a company as burned-out staff are less productive and may provide lower quality work.

Customer and client needs

Like with technology changes, customer and client needs can shift over time. They might expect new services while society’s needs continue to evolve. These might be completely different from state to state in countries like the US. Keeping up with these can be challenging, especially with IT, where mistakes can be costly.

Troubleshooting IT

A full-time worker spends 22 minutes a day, on average, troubleshooting IT problems. That translates to 95 hours a year, or almost 2 ½ weeks of lost productivity. Depending on the issue or job, it may take additional time to get back on task after a distraction.

Preparing for the future

Anticipating future changes in IT is not an easy task. Whether it’s a new security issue or a fresh digital innovation, two main factors are involved: reaction and preparation. Both parts can be complex, especially without specialists who can answer questions, anticipate problems, and support setting up new systems.

Top 7 Benefits of Managed IT Services for a Small Business

Competition with larger organizations means finding ways to get higher quality solutions at a fraction of the cost. With the help of managed IT services, small businesses can better use money through several benefits offered.

Better cybersecurity

MSPs use a variety of digital tools to help keep clients safe. That includes endpoint protection like antivirus, firewalls, DNS filters, and spam detection to counteract most threats to your devices and networks. By combining those with monitoring software, an IT specialist can quickly respond to anything that manages to bypass those layers of protection.

Improved productivity

With overworking being an ongoing concern, managed IT services can help reduce some workloads and improve employee efficiency through additional software tools and staff training. By reducing worker strain, there is less likely to be a drop in productivity that can accompany burn-out.

Scalable IT services

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the services that a small business needs. Customers and clients can be variable, products offered will differ, and the tools that employees use may change over time. With scalable IT services, it can be customized to individual needs and adapt to changes in operational scale.

Experienced IT staff

Managed IT services have access to a larger pool of employees due to their organization specializing in providing IT and managing multiple clients. Since all the staff is well trained and certified, they have expanded knowledge and ability compared to an in-house team. That allows them to help with common problems and have outside-the-box thinking with complex and unexpected issues.

Reduced costs

Training IT staff and providing the needed experience can be costly for any small business. Finding the right solution can also be the difference between improvement and years of spendy IT maintenance of a poorly designed system. Managed IT services remove the risk of in-house IT staff and directly implement the best and most cost-effective solutions.

On-demand support

Organizations never know when a problem will emerge, even with a strong IT foundation. Instead of wasting time troubleshooting IT issues, helpdesk services can provide on-demand support for issues of any size. Assistance can arrive even during off-hours, as many small business IT companies will provide 24/7 helpdesk services with an emergency contact line.

Maintaining IT compliance

Meeting IT compliance is essential for cybersecurity and meeting compliance requirements within many industries. Assessing infrastructure for compliance is a complicated role and requires someone with specialized experience. Managed IT services can do all the heavy lifting by ensuring compliance is up to par.

Learn How Managed IT Services Can Help

Running a small business can be an expensive and hard task. With everything from equipment costs and incorporation fees to office spaces and inventory management, upfront and monthly expenses can quickly grow. Cybercriminals are a constant threat too. As each day brings new situations and unexpected challenges, building a solid IT foundation helps financially and can boost productivity in many areas.

Whether a stable specialty store or a new start-up, operating costs are central to the function of any small business. Without revenue, there is no company. Outsourcing with managed IT services can help cut expenses while better utilizing available resources. Staff can focus on their business and worry less about their IT systems by letting third parties handle IT functions.

Running a small business isn’t easy. ITonDemand’s managed IT services offer an experienced team to take on any IT challenge. We provide fully outsourced IT or can partner with in-house staff to better utilize them. Our client-first approach will help you get the most out of your money while keeping your IT costs down with the right tools and software. Your technology should work with you, not against you. With help from ITonDemand, we can make that happen.

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