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BIG IT LESSONS SMALL BUSINESSES CAN LEARN

What are the key technology lessons that small and mid-sized businesses can learn from large enterprises?

Be proactive. Be prepared. Take security concerns seriously. Always watch for ways to cut costs.

That just might sum up the advice that enterprise-grade IT shops would give smaller businesses about how to avoid costly IT mistakes.

But what are some specific technology lessons that smaller fry can learn from the big fish? We asked the experts, and here’s a partial list:

Get an IT tuneup. Don’t wait until things go wrong with your systems to look under the hood. Have someone come in and do a vulnerability assessment to identify what’s working, what isn’t, and where your security risks are. “Proactive maintenance and support is something that the enterprises do and small businesses don’t,” notes Tim Brennan, founder and managing partner of Rockville, Md.-based SysArc, an IT support firm that counts many small businesses among its clients. A good assessment can cost as little as $1,000, and can save a business much more, notes Brennan.

Be prepared, even for a disaster. “Small businesses tend not to do much with disaster recovery,” notes Brennan. Storing your backup on-site, or never testing your backup system, is not going to protect you if there’s a fire, earthquake, or theft. There are many options, from low-cost online backup products like Mozy or Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (S3). “It’s all about the investment you want to put into it,” says Brennan. “But at very least, back up off-site.”

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