Four IT Basics to Keep Your Small Business Up and Running - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

Simple computer maintenance can prevent big problems.

Not every small business owner can afford to hire an IT professional full time or outsource their IT needs to a larger company. But if it’s 3pm on Friday and your computer goes down while you’re trying to process your employees’ paychecks, you’ll either need to pay top dollar for emergency tech services, or you’re going to have a serious legal problem on your hands when your employees don’t get paid.

Being tech savvy isn’t a requirement of business ownership, but to prevent larger problems and save money, there are things entrepreneurs need to know in order to maintain their company’s hardware, software and web presence. spoke with Abdi Ahmed, President and Chief Technology Officer of NetServe Systems Inc., about simple things you need to do to save money and keep your company’s data secure and updated. Here’s what you need to know:

To what extent will your computer warranty cover repairs

Don’t worry about hiring a dedicated engineer to fix your computers. “The business of fixing computers and hardware is outdated,” says Ahmed. “The cost of [repair] is almost the same as buying a new computer. We recommend that our clients buy a brand name and buy an extended warranty.” If that machine goes down, the warranty will usually come with a telephone helpdesk hotline. Make sure you keep the help desk contact information along with serial numbers for all of your hardware in an easy to find location, in case your hardware fails.

How to retrieve data from your server

If you don’t have a server, it’s critical that you get one. A server, which does not have to be expensive, allows you to centralize your data and guarantees you sustainability. For example, if someone deletes data on a workstation, the business owner can still recover the data from the server. But having a server isn’t enough. You need to know how to access the data on it. “This is very critical because even big law firms, who have 55 employees, 40 PCs, and three servers don’t know how to get into their servers,” says Ahmed, who served as chair of technology for the California Small Business Association.

How to update the anti-virus software on your server

The anti-virus software needs to be up to date, not just on one computer, but on every computer in the company, says Ahmed. “One of the biggest mistakes that small business owners make is they look at the anti-virus on their work station. If it is up to date, they say ‘Oh, I’m good to go.’ Not so. You are good to go on your workstation, but your data resides on your server. The server has to be maintained and it is very vulnerable [to viruses].”

How to make changes to your website

Do you know who your web service provider is? Or what company hosts your site? “You can save a lot of headaches by keeping a simple folder about your infrastructure,” says Ahmed, who consistently gets clients who had a web site created three years ago by someone who they no longer have access to because either the company went out of business or the college kid they hired, who knew everything about the site, went abroad to study in Spain. When that happens, the company is left clueless on how to make necessary changes to their website.

If someone builds a website for you, make sure you know the user ID and password for your website and know how to maintain it and make changes.

For more information on tech solutions for the small business owner read:

A Tech Makeover Story

Building an IT Team

Bits & Bytes

Join the Conversation

Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.