Keys to startup success: Passion, drive…and the right IT plan

DanTully, ConduitSystemsBy Dan Tully, Conduit Systems

What Makes A Successful Startup?

To be successful, startups need the passion, drive, commitment, and resolve to work through all the challenges associated with starting a new business. One method that startups are turning to is the Lean model of outsourcing. This model calls for startups to outsource functions that are not part of the core competency of the employees, and can have positive impacts on startups.

The Lean model requires startups to be flexible and ready to change the way they conduct business at a moment’s notice. Once a business gets into the ‘down and dirty’ of trying to grow, it may find it needs to shift priorities in order to explore a more successful avenue. The key advantages of the Lean model are that it allows companies to adjust on-the-fly and take advantage of opportunities as dictated by market trends. It also calls for startups to outsource all of the functions that are not core to the business, such as IT. This keeps employees focused on growing the business while keeping costs low. Of course, having the right model in place is not the only key to success. Let’s explore how outsourcing IT, for example, can have a positive impact on starting a company.

Evaluating Your IT Needs

For many startups, IT is a business function that companies understand they need but may not know where to start. Computers crash, files get lost, passwords expire; but IT support means so much more beyond the ‘break-fix.’ Data storage, security and backup are critical to a startup that manages proprietary information. Entrepreneurs are usually great problem solvers who can figure out most issues; however, time spent away from core research and development means lost production. A managed IT outsourcing model just might be the way to go.

Employees at startups will appreciate outsourcing the IT tasks as well. Many startups have not built out an IT department or outsourced the responsibilities, and often turn to the most tech-savvy individuals to ask them to figure it all out. Not only does this stretch those employees thinner than they already are, but it gets them away from doing what they do best—growing the company.

Outsourcing IT can also keep costs low and free up budget for other areas of the business. This past December, researchers from MIT found that among 300 companies that invested in IT outsourcing, those companies saw a total of $121.14 million in savings for operating costs in other non-IT functions. For a budding startup to a veteran enterprise, capital is king. Simple steps should be taken to ensure time and energy isn’t spent wasting precious resources. Outsourcing IT functions not only saves money to free up budget elsewhere, but it also keeps employees fresh and focused on growing the business.

Where To Start?

If a startup determines that outsourcing IT is the best option available, it is time to put a plan into action. Before finding a provider, startups should take some time to outline what exactly they will need from a partner in terms of services. Startups should take stock of where the main issues are before heading into a meeting, and not simply just ask for the kitchen sink of IT services. Every company is different, each with its own unique set of needs and challenges. Fortunately, so too are the IT options that can help solve them. Outsourcing IT can help startups conserve resources and mindshare alike, but by implementing a customized package, they can ensure there is no overspending on unnecessary services.

After concluding that IT help is a need and what specific services the company needs, a startup then needs to look at the IT providers themselves. When heading into the meeting, the startup decision-makers should come prepared with some questions that will help guide them to the best provider possible. Some ideas on what to ask include:

-  What is the history of their business, including successes they’ve had?

-  The pace of a startup differs greatly from that of larger enterprises, so what types of experiences do the techs have, as opposed to certifications?

-  What is their reputation? What do customers say about them?

-  What type of tech support services do they offer?

These questions should help guide the startup toward a cost-effective IT situation. And startups should note, this is not just a ‘set it and forget’ situation. Startups are constantly changing in the Lean model, and that means the IT services should be equally adaptable. The good providers will be able to shift priorities as the company shifts, whether that means expanding data storage from onsite to the cloud, or enabling remote access for more employees on-the-go. Regardless, outsourcing services that do not fall into the core competency of the startup, such as IT, can save companies a lot of money and a lot of future headaches as the venture grows.

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As executive vice president of Conduit Systems, Dan Tully is responsible for marketing and sales as well as business development. Dan brings more than 20 years of computing experience to his customer base. Utilizing a consultative, business-savvy approach, Dan assists large companies in addressing complex, technology-based issues.

Dan is a past member of the American Society of Architectural Perspectivists. He resides in Melrose, Massachusetts with his wife and two sons where he is active in community activities and organizations.

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