How Can Small Businesses Save on IT and Collaboration Costs?  

Small businesses mean lean budgets, and the IT expenses of a company can sometimes become neglected in favor of more pressing needs, such as rent and utilities. But small businesses need a solid IT infrastructure if they are to grow and succeed. There are many IT solutions that provide for improved productivity and collaboration without vastly increasing costs. Here are three of the biggest:

1. Cloud Solutions

Cloud solutions can reduce and potentially eliminate the need for expensive on-premise equipment and servers. Though the business gains access to extensive resources that they likely couldn't afford on their own, the actual overall cost is much less. Even better, there's generally no upfront fee or installation cost; a cloud solution is usually on a pay-as-you-go basis. This means that as the company expands, it can requisition more resources and simply pay for the resources that they need rather than having to commit to a costly upgrade.

Cloud solutions are also maintained by the service themselves, providing troubleshooting and basic systems maintenance. This reduces the need for dedicated IT personnel.

2. Virtualization

For small businesses, virtualization gives all the advantages of many IT solutions without having to invest in the IT solution themselves. Remote desktop tools allow for off-site workers and flex-time staff, providing a way to procure work affordably. Virtualized servers and desktops are generally far less expensive than deploying similar technology in-office and companies that need advanced solutions, such as data analysis or graphics rendering, can purchase computing time rather than invest in new equipment.

3. Business Class VoIP

VoIP (Voice-over-Internet-Protocol) telephone systems are far less expensive than traditional telephone systems. Rather than running on telecommunications lines, a VoIP system simply transmits voice data over the company's Internet service. A VoIP solution does not require expensive on-premise telecommunications equipment such as a switch and a PBX because everything is routed and programmed through the Internet. Better yet, a VoIP solution can be upgraded as the company grows by the VoIP company itself rather than through the installation of more equipment at the company's site.

Some businesses experience a chicken-and-egg dilemma: they need to scale up their IT services to bring in more business, but they need more business before they can afford their upgrades. For these issues, there are resources that can help a business get the funding they need to scale up now. For example, small business lenders such as Kabbage provides online small business loans for working capital.

Image source: Intel Free Press