A growing business is like a growing vegetable garden?

May 10, 2017 8:00:00 AM

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I started a small vegetable garden a couple years ago.  It was a pretty manageable size – probably only 8 feet by 10 feet in dimension.  And despite the epic battles waged with the local squirrels and birds, I’ve had what I would consider a respectable harvest each year.

But over the years, I seem to get more and more ambitious.  A couple years ago, I added a trellis so that I could grow green beans.  Then I added some jalapeno peppers.  And then a couple varieties of peppers.  And then zucchini.  And this year, at the request of the kids, I added pumpkins!

Each time I added a new vegetable (or fruit – tomatoes are fruits, right?), I removed more lawn and added planting space.  And while I’m not sad to have less lawn to mow each week, I’ve inadvertently added a lot of complexity to my casual pastime.  Now, I have to remember to water some plants more than others, make sure to plant in a way that optimizes sunlight for some plants and provides afternoon shade for others.  I need to be careful about fertilizers.  And I need to harvest each vegetable at different times which has led to some long weeks of squash for every meal!  I’m actually starting to think that I need to go back to school for a degree in agribusiness or hire a landscape designer.

Fortunately my local landscape supplier was willing to send out a skilled landscape designer who was able to help me expand my garden in an artful way while also adding a semi private sitting area and water feature. She selected plants that would thrive in our climate and helped me add an automated irrigation system that would take some of the frustration out of keeping a healthy garden while I expanded my crop. They were happy to provide her services free of charge as long as I purchased my plants from their nursery. I had a new found sense of confidence and could picture the bountiful harvest I was sure to be rewarded with on a scale that up to now seemed totally out of reach.

So, what does this have to do with a growing small business? 

I think there are a lot of similarities.  When you start out with an idea for a business and get up the guts to launch it, you start off small. You usually have a handful of customers who need what you sell and if you’re lucky enough to have the resources, you have a small staff of people to help support the business.  It’s fairly straightforward at first because you’re focused on your core business.  Usually the business requires a certain amount of technology.  That may only mean a couple computers, using MS Office or G Suite by Google Cloud and maybe a specific tool like QuickBooks or something.  You share a simple Wi-Fi connection, and probably a printer.   it’s all pretty easy to connect everything together and make it work.

But as you grow, you add more people and more technology to support the business.  You expand your physical space to accommodate the growth.    You might even add a point of sale (POS) system or ecommerce functionality to your website.  You also start to collect really valuable data and possibly some trade secrets that you don’t want to share with competitors. Now, all of a sudden, you need networking expertise.  And a web developer.  And a firewall.  And someone who knows how to work a firewall.  And maybe someone who can monitor and fix problems that may arise in the middle of the night. There is a whole host of reasons you may now need help.

Where can you start?

One of the questions we hear all the time is, “Where do I start?”  And just like when my garden started to verge on community garden proportions, I had no clue how to manage irrigation, plot planning, fertilizer, crop rotation, etc., most people don’t even know where to begin when their IT systems become increasingly complicated.  And it’s not always apparent to us immediately either.  That’s why we almost always start with a full IT assessment and like the complimentary landscape design services, we can generally include it at no additional charge with an engagement to deliver other IT services. 

Our thorough review of your IT ecosystem helps us identify what you’re doing right, spotlight urgent needs, and identify opportunities for improvement down the road.  We look at network configuration, bandwidth needs, applications needing support, hardware and devices, backup and disaster recovery, etc.  We also take time to understand your business – the type of work you do, how you work (Heavy computing?), when you work (Traditional business hours? Overnight? Weekends?), and where you work (On-site? Remote? A combination?).

Once we have a full understanding of your situation, we then do full analysis and then prepare a full, detailed action plan for you.  And just like the plan that was laid out for me by my landscape designer, you can either execute the plan yourself on your own time or hire the experts to do the work.  Being a full-time father with a day job, you can guess which option I chose!

Get a handle on your IT needs today.  Sign up for an IT assessment and find out if you’re ready to “know what you may not already know.”

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Steven Brier

Written by Steven Brier

Steven Brier is the VP of Marketing at Istonish.

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