One Man vs The World: Why small business IT is so difficult to get right

One reason that small business IT is such a challenge is the expectations that business owners have of their IT people.

Many small businesses have 1 IT person. Sometimes that person is part-time or has other duties. Often, IT isn’t even their primary role but just something they just got thrust into because no one else wanted it and they seemed to be more comfortable with computers than most others in the office.

But running IT well for a business, even a small business, is complex. There are many discipline areas to master. For example: Windows, networking and TCP/IP, routing, firewalls, security, DNS, DHCP, Active Directory, Group Policy, and SharePoint just to name a few.

Compounded by the fact that the IT person is also often expected to be an expert at various applications like Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, and one or more line-of-business applications that are used and it becomes easy to see that the amount of knowledge and expertise expected is too much for one person.

This is where the problem starts. One person can’t know it all, but for various reasons it’s often expected that one person is supposed to know it all as the IT person for a small business.

The one-man IT shop that’s effective is rarer than a great one-man band or one-man army.

What can you do to make it better?

If you’re an IT person for a small business, you can provide more effective support for your employer by admitting you don’t know it all, getting outside expertise bolster your abilities, and not being afraid to ask for money to pay to have projects done right.

If you’re a business owner with a small IT department, you can let them know you don’t expect them to know everything and you’d rather have things done right than just done cheap. Support them in finding trusted vendors that supplement their skills and knowledge and provide the specialized expertise they don’t have.

No matter what, we all have to recognize that IT and security are changing every day and while some aspects of technology are getting easier all the time, some elements are getting more challenging (security, for example).

Then we need to understand that it’s better to do it right or have it done right and work together to achieve that than it is to settle for “good enough” that really isn’t. In the end, having IT that’s done right is better and less expensive than trying to do it cheap and getting burned.

– Weston Henry


Are you a business owner with a small IT department? What challenges have you seen?

Are you an IT person in a small company? What are the biggest challenges you face?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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