Control Costs and Competition in the Face of Recession

As the global economy stares in the face of recession, small businesses are trying to keep their heads above water. The dilemma is trying to control costs while also ensuring they remain competitive.

The first areas where budgets are cut is often IT and technology or marketing, however both are part of the life–blood that keeps businesses running. Without marketing how can you, as a small business, grow? And without IT and technology, you may become inefficient, slow and unresponsive. Therefore the challenge faced by small businesses is how to invest sensibly, while also being efficient and cost–effective. It sounds like a contradiction, but it is possible!

A web presence is part of both of these functions: Marketing as it is the face of your business and most often a source of revenue whether directly or indirectly; and IT, as your website is only working for your business, when it is live — if a website fails then it will cost you awareness as well as online sales. For a small business your website is even more important, it is an opportunity for you to compete on a level playing field alongside larger competitors. A small business can have a big reach if you optimise your website and providing it is always available.

It is the technology piece in particular, of creating and managing a hosting solution for your website (or any online application) that can be a major challenge for small businesses. The decision on how to host your website is very important. Hosting it yourself may appear to be a low cost solution initially, but when you consider the capital outlay for hardware, plus the technical skills needed to provide support, as well as the specialist security expertise, which is vital for a company doing business online — it all sounds a bit daunting for a small business. Not to mention the internet is 24/7 so your website needs to be as well.

Entrusting your website hosting to a hosting provider removes the enormous burden of having to worry about whether your website is online and that it is secure. However if you decide to go down the hosting route, you must select a partner who can deliver, especially important in recessionary times. Your hosting provider will take the risk of the upfront capital outlay of the servers and security devices such as firewalls, therefore you need to ensure the provider themselves has enough cash to do this on your behalf. You certainly don’t want to choose a provider who is struggling themselves as if they do go under, what happens to your website then? Will it go down with them?

As a small business you need to be confident that your hosting provider is credible, has experience and is financially stable. They need to guarantee 100% network uptime for your website and deliver 24/7 support to get your site back up and running as soon as possible if hardware fails. Of course they must also have the knowledge to help and advise you on how to develop your solution as, hopefully your business grows. This means they are truly your partner and a resource you can use, to enable you to focus on your core business — keeping existing customers and generating new ones.

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