IT Essentials for Small Business

I am beginning to outline the contents for a forthcoming book on IT Essentials for Small Business. It will contain a compendium of my diverse IT & web knowledge as applied to small businesses. Larger businesses and other organizations may find the core knowledge useful, but I will be focusing on the scale of small businesses that don’t usually have a dedicated IT staff. All the important things you should keep your eyes on when working with IT in your business.

The outline will lead to related posts here on this blog in the coming days. Once I have sufficient content, the blog postings will be republished in book form and available from the usual sources in both print and electronic form, in addition to the posts here. Posts may or may not be in the order of the proposed outline and the outline may be reorganized prior to publishing. I will tag posts to collect related content items.

I highly encourage posting comments in order to make corrections or enhancements to the content prior to publishing. Feel free to ask me to cover a particular area that you feel should be included if it is not in the outline. Good ideas are aways welcome!

Proposed Outline

  1. Introduction
  2. Security
  3. Office Computers
  4. Software Applications
  5. Networking
  6. Telecommunications
  7. Domain Names
  8. Email
  9. Web Sites
  10. Marketing
  11. E-Commerce
  12. Web Applications
  13. Summary

I’ll provide a mini-outline for each of these areas as I flesh them out in more detail. Feel free to comment with suggestions on other major areas that might not be included above.

Forget Windows vs Mac

Over the years, I’ve used many different personal computers and their related operating systems. The long-running debate between Microsoft Windows in it’s various versions, and Apple’s Mac OSX is no longer meaningful to the everyman. For a sample of the debate, see Olivier Prud’homme’s Windows vs Mac commentary on Chris Pirillo’s blog.

When choosing a personal computer you only need to focus on what you want to accomplish with it. You can do the most common functions with either, Windows or Mac OSX.

There are four primary uses of personal computers:

  • Web Browsing
  • Email
  • Word Processing
  • Spreadsheets

There are good applications on both platforms (Windows or Mac) that do more than the average user could ever require. So, if the only thing you ever expect to do is in this list, what type computer you choose is unimportant.

If you expect or know you have a special need, now or will have in the near future, focus on finding the software application you need first. While a version of it is likely available for either platform, it might not be. Or, you might like how one works on Windows versus on the Mac. Your software choice must come first.

Today, you can actually eliminate choosing based on the top four applications listed above and choose based on the top one–the web browser you like most. Email, word processing and spreadsheets are available as web-based applications. But, again it comes down to what you like. You may not like the web-based applications or they may not provide the functionality that you need!

Do your research on applications first. Once you find what you like and works for you, look at computers to support it.

Respond vs. React

Most of us go through life reacting to our environment. Whether that is our physical surroundings, interactions with other people, or even to ourselves! All of our actions are driven by external influences. You may think you are making a choice when you take an action, but are you really?

Responding is about seeing those external influences, but not letting them make the choice for us in what action we take. Awareness of our environmental influences is essential, reacting to them is not.

In responding to an environmental influence we are aware of it’s impact on us, but we evaluate internally how we choose to act in relationship to it. That may be not acting at all! That too is a response!

To make a response we consider our goals and other influential factors, taking all the time to think we need to consider all alternatives before making a decision on how to respond.

A response comes from an internal blend of thought and emotion. A reaction is purely emotional.

Reacting is can be good in emergency situations–a car accident, a burning building, etc. Where there is a need to act extremely quickly.

Responding is even better as it allows the application of emotion as appropriate, tempered by the thought of what is the complete picture of the situation. Even in the above situations of a car accident or burning building, responding to the situation rather than reacting may save your or another’s life! Applying your knowledge of driving, you may be able to avoid an automobile accident, or in a fire you may prevent the fire from spreading or getting out of a building in a manner you would not normally consider.

Yelling & screaming in either of the above events is reacting… does it help? Responding is what will save your life. In every day life, we may not be dealing with life-threatening events, but the principle is the same.

The more practice you get in responding to daily events, the quicker you will be able to apply the same skill in an emergency situation–avoiding the need to react, while staying calm and helping others to do the same. It will save your life, but on a daily basis, it might save a career or relationship.

Always respond, instead of react.