28/09/2012 06:04 BST | Updated 27/11/2012 05:12 GMT

Is Technology Holding Back your Business?

Every business starts off able to grow freely. Employees bring something positive and productive to the company and you can point to the income they have achieved. However, when the company begins to expand or needs to invest more on systems to support the business - that's when owner-managers can find themselves entering a technology minefield.

As any business develops and recruits more employees, there has to be someone who can help when IT systems go wrong and someone who can add new users to the network when things go spectacularly right. However, owner-managers will often put off adding an IT person to the headcount. Often it is the first time they are employing someone who is neither customer-facing like a receptionist nor a profit-centre like a sales person.

Such delay can actually inhibit growth. Consider a moment if your business has reached 25 people in size. You know full well that you really, really need someone to look after the network and make sure it is stable and secure. At the same time, the economy is so flaky that if you were to lose a couple of your major clients you would probably have to make cuts - at which point one of your most skilled and therefore expensive people becomes an overhead supporting a much smaller team.

This is undesirable in anyone's book and is why the cloud is a good idea for the smaller business not just for the big multinationals. The cloud gives you the flexibility to expand or contract your IT resources according to your circumstances. As well as flexibility the cloud offers the possibility of remote management. Instead of adding to your own headcount you can instead outsource the running of technology completely to a computer services contractor or a Managed Service Provider (MSP). These professionals have access to a host of computing resources. If you need extra security for a short time, the MSP simply configures the additional protection while it is needed and switches it off when the period of peak demand is over.

But before you go looking for your nearest MSP - one word of caution. Not all MSPs are geared towards small businesses. Make sure they have a cloud security platform like AVG CloudCare that is especially suited (and priced) for small businesses. There's no point in paying over-the-top for over-sized services.

The right provider will be able to tailor the support according to your exact needs. And because they have other clients it should work out much more cost effective than hiring a full time IT administrator.

If all goes well there will come a point where your business is big enough to merit having its own IT staff. But, in those early growth stages when you genuinely don't know if it's sustainable, using the right contractor will ensure your infrastructure doesn't hold you back from realising your business' full potential.