Business Failure

It’s no secret that in today’s technology-driven world, it has never been more important to ensure that your company’s systems are online and operable. After all, technology has only become more and more central to the way we do business in the past two decades. When your IT system is operating at full potential and is secure from attacks, there are innumerable benefits to your business. Your day-to-day operations will be running smoothly and your productivity, service, and communications will be optimized. With the benefits of modern business technology, you have more opportunities to gain an increased market share and greater revenue potential. But this means that your customers — who may be located worldwide — are going to be dependent on your business to be online at all times, 24/7, 365 days a year.

Many of our clients at Kraft Technology Group understand this an expectation of any business that hopes to satisfy its customers.

The spread of technology in this manner has resulted in a double-edged sword. For small and medium-sized businesses, the market has opened up to a degree that would have been unimaginable even a few years before. If this description fits your business, it means that you can now reach a customer base around the world and grow much bigger than you would have been able to otherwise. But while technology has enabled this, its central place in your business comes with a price. If there is a network failure or a system outage, the consequences can be ruinous. Many businesses of your size in this situation, unfortunately, have shuttered because of the consequences of system downtime.

Of course, any business is at threat of experiencing a system outage, especially if they don’t have much in the way of good IT practices. However, a large company can much more easily absorb the losses and move on. These companies will still experience lost profits and dissatisfaction from their customers, but they have the resources at their disposal to not only fix the issue and move forward but to absorb the losses and restore their customers’ trust. It should go without saying, however, that these resources aren’t available for small businesses. The financial resources that it takes to not only fix the technical issue but the lost profits and confidence in your customer base, are all significant problems for a smaller business that could even cause them to go under.

The data supports this claim. According to the National Archives and Records Administration, within twelve months after experiencing prolonged downtime for more than 10 days and data loss, 93% of small and medium businesses are found to have filed for bankruptcy. This is a staggering number of businesses that have failed and we would not like the same to happen to you. Because of this, you need to make sure that you are eradicating failure from your networks by getting the IT support you need for your company to be successful. As it is, most IT failures can either be completely avoided or made much less severe, and you don’t have to break the bank to do so.

The first thing that you need to do as a small or medium business is to be honest about the amount of risk that you are facing. This is often difficult for a business to do, as many people prefer to be kept in the dark rather than face the facts about vulnerabilities in their network. But it is absolutely critical that your business is proactive about managing the risks on your network.

We’ll give you some data on the state of risk planning among small and medium businesses that may be surprising. According to a survey conducted by Symantec SMB, 50% of small and medium businesses do not have any plan to enable business continuity or recover from the sort of catastrophic data loss that is unfortunately all too common. Furthermore, 41% say that they have never thought of how they would go about instituting a plan for disaster recovery or how they will back up their data if such an event were to occur. It is this sort of lack of foresight and planning that leads to such a high number of bankruptcies following sustained downtime, as we mentioned earlier. If you want to achieve the goal of eradicating failure in your business, you need to first start by planning ahead.

As a small or medium business, your resources are going to be limited. That means that if you have in-house IT support, it could be very easy for them to fall behind under a backlog of work. It’s very common for small and medium businesses to become so focused on fixing existing problems as a matter of network survival that they have no capability to make the sort of improvements that will really cement the safety and security of your network. That’s why it’s important to make proactive decisions now that will forestall issues down the line. You don’t want to wait to work on your IT networks until there is already a problem. By that point, it is likely too late.

Five Best Practices For Eradicating Failure

Instead, there are five things that a small and medium business can do for eradicating failure. These are often overlooked, but the truth is that this sort of system maintenance is much more important than fixing problems as they arrive. The reason for this is that each of these things will prevent IT issues from even arising in the first place.

  • The first thing you can do to prevent downtime and to ensure the continuity of your business is simple. You need, as a small or medium business, to back up your files every day. This is a mistake that many businesses make — only 23% of small and medium-sized businesses, according to Symantec SMB, are backing up their data daily. However, in the event of data loss, good backups are absolutely essential. This is the first thing you should be prioritizing to make sure that your business can survive IT issues.
  • The second thing that you want to be doing, related to the first, is to be regularly checking the procedures that you have for backing up your data. It’s common to think that you have a backup system in place only to be surprised when data loss occurs and you don’t have the protections that you thought you had. You don’t want to do all the work to make sure that you are backing up your files every day only to find that it was all worthless because your backup system was faulty. It might also seem that your backup is working fine only to be missing large parts of your critical data, or that your backup files are corrupt and won’t load. Each of these could be disastrous — so it’s in your best interest to make sure that your backups are working properly and that all of your data is being saved in the event of data loss. As a reminder, you want to make sure that you are including in your backup procedures the data that is present on your employee’s personal devices, including laptops and phones.
  • The third tip you can use for eradicating failure is to ensure that virus protection software and firewalls are always enabled for your business. It’s unfortunately all too common for small and medium businesses not to place the importance on virus protection software and firewalls that they should. If your virus protection software license is expired, your firewall or virus protection software is disabled, or you never installed one to begin with, then you are at a major risk for malicious code that could cause a network failure. You need to be proactive with virus protection to ensure that you don’t fall victim to viruses from email, spam, downloads, or websites. This is important not just because of the risk of failure, but also because of the risk you could spread a virus to your customers as well, which would cause a huge drop-off in their confidence in your business.
  • Fourthly, you’re going to want to keep an eye on your server drives. If your server drives are getting close to full, that could result in server crashes, slow delivery of emails, or even what we want to avoid most — network failure. Make sure that you are taking time to ensure your servers are running smoothly to avoid problems down the line.
  • As a final tip, you want to make sure that you are making a habit of checking the critical built-in log files for your infrastructure. Often, there are signs of a problem that show up long before a system failure occurs. If you keep an eye on these critical built-in log files, you can fix problems with your system infrastructure before they worsen into a catastrophe.

With these best practices, you can start being proactive about eradicating failure in your business. Remember, although it may be hard to see the benefit of these practices now, they’ll more than pay for themselves if you can avoid critical downtime. Don’t become one of the fatality statistics and continue to deliver on your promises to your customers by working to eradicate failure in your business every day.

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Don Baham
Don Baham, CISSP, CISA, MCSE, is president of Kraft Technology Group, LLC (KTG), an affiliate of KraftCPAs PLLC. KTG offers a wide range of services, including technology strategic planning, virtual CIO services, network engineering, hardware and software selection and installation, ongoing network support, managed services, IT function outsourcing, and cloud solutions. Within his role, Don is responsible for delivering IT strategic planning and virtual CIO services, the development of client relationships, bringing new solutions to the market, and leading the strategic direction of KTG. Don has more than 17 years of experience in information technology with a blended background in technology consulting and architecture, information security and business development.

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