What are the biggest challenges you face as a small business owner?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Furthermore, your opinion can (and probably will) change from day to day.

IT related issues are a regular source of pain for many small business owners. Technology is great when it’s working, but can soon become a time and money drain otherwise.

Despite the fact that worldwide IT spending was flat in 2016, it still totaled approximately $3.41 trillion. That’s big money, no matter how you look at it.

Problems on the Horizon

In a perfect world, you’d never be faced with IT problems. From your servers to security to compliance, everything would go as planned. You could just outsource everything, sit back, and relax.

In the real world, you can’t expect to be this lucky. Sure, you’ll go through stretches where technology is nothing but your best friend, but this can change without notice.

Since you never know when or where the next problem will come from, it’s imperative to be prepared for the future. When you have a plan in place, when you know what you should and shouldn’t be doing, it’s easier to tackle any concern head on.

The Approach With No Internal IT Team

Did you know that there are more than 6.7 million individuals employed within the United States technology industry?

With this number continuing to rise, it’s safe to assume that thousands upon thousands of companies have internal IT professionals to assist with everything from troubleshooting to problem prevention.

Even so, this doesn’t mean that every small business has at least one IT professional on staff. In fact, many companies intentionally avoid this, realizing that they don’t have a need for ongoing support.

This approach isn’t as risky as it sounds, especially if you have the knowledge to address IT issues without professional assistance. Here’s the million dollar question: what’s the best strategy for IT problem solving when you, the small business owner, are the person in charge of making key decisions?

Since no two companies and no two problems are the same, there’s no “standard method” for IT problem solving. Instead, an individual overview of the issue is required in order to find a solution.

You want to make the most of your contact with an IT solutions provider. To do so, you should take these steps:

1. Write Down Everything About the Problem

It’s your job to effectively communicate the problem to your provider. What have you seen? What troubleshooting steps have you taken?

The more details you provide, the easier it is for a third party to step in, review the issue and hit the ground running.

2. Explain Your Progress to this Point

In some cases, this is as simple as saying “I haven’t done anything to address the problem, as I didn’t know where to start.”

Other times, however, you’ll need to explain the steps that you have taken. This goes along with point #1 above.

This isn’t a time to hold information back. This is a time to put everything on the table, as this gives your IT provider the data necessary to implement the best possible plan.

3. Offer Your Opinion

Depending on the problem, your experience and what you’ve faced in the past, you may have a basic idea of what the problem could be. You don’t know for sure, but there’s nothing wrong with sharing your thoughts.

It’s not your job to solve the problem. That being said, it’s still extremely helpful if you offer your opinion on what could be causing the issue.

4. Bring in Your Team

Although you may be the person to make contact with an IT provider, it doesn’t mean that you’re the only one from your company who should be involved.

Did another employee discover the problem? Is there one person or a group of people who continually experience the issue? Since they have firsthand experience, you want them to be present when providing information and discussing potential causes and solutions.

5. Find Out What’s Next

By now, you’ve done everything that you can to put the IT company in position to succeed. You’ll want to remain a part of the problem solving process moving forward, but it’s now time to get out of the way. It’s time to let the professionals step in and do their thing.

For the meantime, the best thing that you can do is find out what’s next. Which steps will the company take to solve the problem? Is there anything you can do to aid in the process?

As you know, solving an IT problem is not always cut and dry. Give your solutions provider room to operate. Don’t bug the heck out of them as they troubleshoot the issue. Instead, set clear expectations, make yourself available and then let them work their magic.

Avoid the Same in the Future

There is no better feeling than putting an IT problem to rest. It doesn’t matter if you solve the issue on your own or call in reinforcements, you can look back and realize that you were a “problem solving master.”

Even with this feeling of accomplishment, you know one thing to be true: you don’t want to go down this path again in the future. You spent enough time (and maybe money) solving the problem that you realize you don’t want to be faced with the same circumstances in the future.

Once the problem is solved for good, answer this question: what was the cause and how can you prevent the same from happening in the future?

Armed with this answer, you can take the steps necessary to avoid a similar fate down the road.


As a small business owner you wear many hats. While every task and responsibility is important, an IT related issue should always move to the top of your priority list.

With this guide by your side, you’re now armed with the advice and guidance required to narrow down the scope of a problem, conduct tests, search for solutions and, if necessary, consult with a third party.