If you can't afford to hire an information technology (IT) expert or even a part-time consultant to handle tech-related issues in your small business, here are some inexpensive approaches:
Search online. It sounds simple, but a lot of error messages can be solved with a simple Internet search. Type in the message or the error number and with some luck, you'll be directed to message boards for guidance.
Keep help on the line. Companies such as iTOK and Tekserve offer pre-paid, yearly and by-the-hour plans for small business owners in need of digital assistance. CrossLoop connects tech experts with customers who pay hourly rates for help; some fees start as low as $20.
Consider IT-in-training. Call a nearby university’s technology department to see if any students would be willing to work for cheap. This can be a win-win for students and business owners alike: The student receives credit and experience and the business owner saves money.
Seek out local resources. Most states have many small business development centers that can provide a list of free or cheap local services. Some libraries offer free classes on technology for small business owners .
When in doubt, ask the nerd. Maybe it’s your cousin or an employee, but finding out who among your friends is a tech buff can prove priceless. Seek them out for help taking the first step in solving an IT problem.
Even though these options exist, don’t consider them a long-term solution, said Rachel Baker, owner of Plugged In Consulting, a Chicago-based tech consultancy for small businesses.
“Every business runs so much on technology nowadays that they should have someone who does the higher-thinking about how the technology process goes,” Baker told BusinessNewsDaily.
Hiring a locally owned, small tech consultancy for hourly service is another alternative to big-name stores, which tend to be hit or miss, said Scott Blitstein, who manages a group of independent consultants for BatchBlue, a Providence, R.I.-based software maker.
“You don’t know who you’ll be working with,” he said. “If you go with a local business owner, they might not always be good, but when you find one who is you can go back to them every time.”
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