Do You Need Bleeding Edge IT For Your Small Business?

The straight up answer is no.

So if your IT guy is pestering you to upgrade your server, or to totally overhaul your fleet of laptops, it’s OK to say “No”

Most of the time.

The cool thing about Small Business IT is the control you have over it.  There’s no real red tape or paper work to get through if you want to upgrade a machine or buy a new server.  The usual corporate office politics is usually downgraded to idle gossip, and the only real 2 questions you need to ask yourself is “can I afford it” and “can I make money from it”?  Answering “Yes” to both of those is usually a good sign that it’s safe to buy.

So if you want that $6000 workstation graphics card, or that $1500 solid state hard drive, if you can afford it, and if you can make money from it (funnily both, both the 6K graphics card and the 1.5K hard drive, could make you money simply by making you more efficient, saving time, finishing jobs quicker, and being able to find and accept more jobs) then buy it.

Now, on the flip side, if you’re boot strapping your Small Business or your can measure it’s age in 3 digit days, then it’s perfectly acceptable to hold onto software and hardware for the term of it’s (or the business’) natural life.

I’m serious.

If the IT in your Small Business is 5+ years old (or even older), and if it’s serving your purpose, and is NOT causing you a bottleneck in your business, then continue to use it.  Without question.


If the IT in your Small Business is 5+ years old (or even older), and is still serving your purpose, but IS causing you a bottleneck in your business, then consider upgrading.  The initial sting of the upgrade outlay will eventually be surpassed (and overtaken) through increased productivity, time saving, and happy happy employees.

Let’s get back to that $6000 video card and $1500 solid state drive from earlier.  If before the upgrade, a project on your PC could be finished in a 6 day working week, netting you $500 a pop, that’s pretty sweet, right?  But if after spending $7000 on those big (BIG) ticket items, you can get that project time down to 2 days and still get $500 a pop, well, you can do 3 projects in that same 6 day working week.  So instead of $500 a week, you can get $1500.  That $7000 will pay itself back in no time.

Sure that’s entirely speculatory, but it isn’t that far off the mark.

The other thing about upgrading IT in your Small Business is that you DO NOT need the best of what’s out there.  If your PC runs a Pentium 4 (and I really hope it doesn’t) then an upgrade to an i5 based PC (or an i3, or even a Core2Duo or Quad) will feel like a huge improvement.  Especially when you take into account, what the basic office PC is used for.  Emails, Internet, Office files (documents, spreadsheets, etc) and potentially one company based program.  That’s close to 90% of all small business desktops in my opinion!  So don’t feel like your have to go top of the tree in terms of upgrade, as you’ll be totally wasting your money.

So to sum it all up.

*  Do you need the latest and greatest IT gear in your Small Business?  No.

*  Will the latest and greatest IT gear increase productivity to a point where it could pay itself off quickly ?  No?  Then don’t buy it.  Yes?  Then really consider upgrading.


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