April 25, 2009, 12:21 PM — A good friend of mine runs a 12 person tech support service company in the Midwest. Yesterday he said something that struck me as odd: the majority of his small business customers have no interest in actually growing. Does your company want to grow?
The topic came up during a discussion of appropriate technology purchases for small businesses. Hardware and software vendors always say you have to leave room for growth, like your mother told you when you tried on new shoes as a kid. But if you're company isn't interested in going from 12 employees to 120 employees, should that make a big difference in the technology you purchase?
This doesn't mean his small customers don't want to make more money for doing the same amount of work. Technology promises efficiency, which is hard to remember when a Windows update overwrites your video driver, as happened to me once. My efficiency for the next two days was not just zero, but a minus 10 percent. But advances such as hosted e-mail marketing make it easy and cheap to stay in touch with old customers and introduce yourself to new potential customers. Surely that counts for something.
I met another tech recently who started, with two partners, his own five person tech support company. They have five people now. Should he buy equipment based on 50 people next year? Or should he buy technology appropriate for maybe 10 people, and worry about upgrading later?
Let me know your company's philosophy. Are you actively hoping to grow as the economy gets better, or are you hoping to maintain and stay about the same size? How has that changed your thinking about which technology products and services to buy?