Costly Mistake #1:
Not Realizing That Your Business Computer System is One of Your Most Precious and Valuable Assets
What are the 10 costly mistakes business owners make? As a business owner, you have many assets. Your employees. Your building and equipment. Any equity you may have. Your inventory.
Most business owners entirely forget about their computer systems. Sure you might include them in your cost of goods sold if you use them for production, or you might depreciate them on your taxes every year. But, more often than not, computers seem to rank at the bottom of the list of important items in your business.
Because of my years as a technician, I often end up at a client’s site because they are experiencing computer problems (unfortunately, like a doctor, I rarely get calls just to say that things are going well and not to show up).
“The stupid things are broken more often than they’re working”
While I fix a computer problem employees and business owners frequently express their disgust with their computer systems. They “wish the damn things were never invented” or exclaim that “the stupid things are broken more often than they’re working”.
I love to sit back and listen to these grumblings and complaints. Then when I can sneak word in edge wise, I’ll simply say “Why don’t you just get rid of your computers then? After all, you can do your accounting with a pencil and paper. It was done that way for years. You don’t need email to receive your orders. After all, you have a phone and a fax machine and the Postal Service still delivers mail. And the layout for your brochures and catalogs? That used to be done with typewriters, x-acto knives and glue”!
“We could never compete in today’s marketplace without them”
Instantly most people get even more worked up than they were before and tell me all the reasons that they simply couldn’t live without their computers.
- “We could never compete in today’s marketplace without them”.”
- “Our customers expect to email orders to us”.
- “The post office is too slow. We need to be able to send our communications instantly over the internet.”
- “Our entire accounting system is on the computer. There’s no way we could be as efficient and accurate without it that way.”
And the list goes on and on.
Yet, just moments earlier these same folds were telling me all the reasons their computers were just worthless!
Now, of course I’m being the Devil’s Advocate when I suggest we all go back to the “stone ages” and live without our computers. But, I do this to prove a point. We really do place a huge importance on our computer systems. They make us more efficient. They help us compete in a global economy. They perform tasks in just a matter of moments that once took days to complete by hand.
I ask you then, if you really realize that computers play such an important role in your businesses, in making your living, in improving your bottom line, then how come they are so often thought of last in making business decisions?
Let me take this one step further.
Just what do you do with your computers? Do you store confidential data about your company? Do you rely on them to accurately and quickly calculate your payroll or financial reports? Do you use them in the production or promotion of your products and services?
If you answered “Yes” to even one of these questions, then you must agree that computers are truly important to the day-to-day operations of your business. Now, think about all the customer, client and business data. Isn’t this information one of the key things you use every day in your business?
- What would you do if you suddenly were without this information?
- What would you do if you suddenly had to re-create your entire customer lists from scratch?
- What would happen if your sales figures for the past 3 years suddenly vanished?
- Could your business survive if all of this month’s orders were instantly gone?
You see, it’s not really your computers that are the asset, it’s the data they store and the work that they do for you.
Your computers are storage vaults for all this precious business information. Now, if you had to store all that data on paper wouldn’t you want it in a truly secure vault? Or would you just shuffle it all together and throw it in a shoe box?
Unfortunately, the second choice is the type of thinking that goes into most computer-related business decisions. Computers are an afterthought. They often come at the bottom of the budget and get the least amount of attention.
Heck, I’ve seen some people that would never think about operating their car without regular maintenance, but never put any thought into how well their computers might be functioning.
Not a great way to look at a piece of equipment that is almost impossible to live without, is it?
So, the first mistake I find most business people making is actually not placing enough value on their computer systems. They let other forces, such as price, the advice of friends or the family computer “geek” influence their decisions. Unfortunately, decisions about your computer system should be as important as any other business decision you make!