Home and Office Computer? The Biggest Misconception for Small Business

Many of us in small business have problems with how to use our computers well, and most of us would not even know who to talk to in the event of needing IT support. What does that mean anyway? How can I use this software? Which software will make my operations easier? After much consideration and experience working with small business I have come to understand, this problem starts from when small and personal computers were released. We were all told these computers were “for Home and Office use”. This has led to many people believing they could use the same computers and software to get their job done in the office, as they use for whatever reason at home. While actually the hardware can be used in both situations, this is a look at the different areas of general use, and shows how the idea of 'Home and Office' computing is very misleading and is the cause of many of our problems.
  • Software. When you buy a computer from Apple, or one based on Windows, what do you normally get? You get Microsoft word, and a few other toys to play with. If you want to use this computer for your business, you need to go out and buy other software, but where do you go? You start looking for small commercial use programs, and most of them don't match and have limited options. You need something to grow with your business, and because it is so important, you will need something professional. It is highly unlikely you will find a range of standard consumer packages that can handle your needs. You need a package that will grow with your business, have many integrated parts, and you will probably need some serious business support. Buying software yourself to do individual tasks is not an option. You just left the world of 'home' computing.
  • Storage and Protection. For basic home computing we have a backup hard disk. Other than that you can buy online storage. Many commercial operators this. A perfect example is iDisk by Apple. This is basically just storage space. It is not designed to integrate with your software and store information. If something goes wrong, your backup hard disk fails, and they do, you are in big trouble. Again, we see home computing needs and business needs are very different. For business, you are looking for a managed solution, something that integrates your software and storage needs. It is better if your 'computer' is a terminal, and all your software needs are taken care of by a professional company, and actually stored somewhere else. Anyone, anywhere, can access this information as long as they can get online. If you are out at a meeting and you want to demonstrate something to a client, you do not need to be digging through your computer or asking your secretary to email you a file. We all know how cumbersome that is. Again, there are not too many standard or 'home budgeting and management' applications used around the home, that can be applied to business well. How would you even know which software is right to go and buy? Again, you need help with consultation.
  • Security. Are you using Yahoo Messenger or MSN to chat with your colleagues? Do you realise these programs are like sending your information through the air on a banner? This kind of information can be picked up incredibly easy and used by anyone. How safe is your office from attack? How safe is your information stored on your computer? In reality, it probably isn't. Security and online protection is a major issue in our modern world. Even the CEO of Trip Advisor, one of the world's leading online travel and related companies has just issued a notice their customer data has been hacked. Protection is an absolute must. The best way you can have this form of protection, is with business software that is stored at a safe location. This online software will come with a range of tools to transfer and protect your information. If you need a chat client for your company, they can probably add that application too. And it will work with everything else you already have.
Unfortunately, most of us have been led to believe our home computer and our office computer could handle the same work. The hardware can, but everything that is so crucial for doing good, efficient and secure business, is generally not. That is what the PC makers neglected to specify. If you are in small business, because this is such a complicated issue, you have two options. You either hire your own IT person to manage your information, or seek professional business IT support, to outsource your needs. The second one is obviously highly recommended. There really is no such thing as a 'Home and Office' computer because of the range of diverse and integrated tasks that need to be managed securely. Home computing software just does not provide it.

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