Small business owners often stay in head-down mode, focused on their customers and the bottom line. Unless a crisis arises, it’s easy to take business infrastructure like phone service and insurance policies for granted – especially if it seems to be working fine.
However, for the best of your business, you should periodically assess whether these services are delivering maximum benefits. Is there a new competitor in the market, a shift in rate structures, or a leap in technology that could accelerate your business? Or maybe what has changed is your business itself. Perhaps recent growth has strained existing services, or strategic cuts have left you with excess capacity. You may need to make changes accordingly. No matter how your business is working, take the time each year to reevaluate these five services.
1. Phone and Internet
Phone and Internet connections are the basic building blocks of business, and the ways you’re most likely to interact with your clients, so it’s essential to assess them regularly. Take stock of whether your Internet service is fast and reliable, and how your phone provider’s fees stack up against competitors’. Most importantly ask yourself whether innovative phone and Internet options could take your business to the next level. Perhaps your business has grown enough that you need an automated phone system or a more flexible way to access your business line. Depending on how your business has changed, it might be time to switch providers or upgrade with your existing provider.
Understandably, small business owners might be hesitant to switch phone and Internet providers out of fear that a changeover could disrupt operations. After all, what business can afford to have their Internet or phones to go down, even temporarily? Comcast Business offers a “No-Glitch Switch” guarantee, with technicians who work around business schedules and get things up and running within an hour. Installation can happen in the early morning, at night, or on weekends — whatever your business considers downtime. Comcast Business also lets businesses keep their existing phone number, recognizing that your business’s number is part of its identity.
Your bank should be a strategic partner for your business. They should understand your small business needs and recommend best-fit products to help your company grow. The right banking partner will also be able to steer you in the right direction during a rough period or emergency. If you lack this kind of relationship, it could be time to look for other options.
In addition to looking at the quality of the relationship, compare bank fees, rates, and policies such as minimum balances. Consider whether you have access to time-saving bank services like payroll assistance, invoice processing, and remote deposit capture. Shop around and ask other business owners for recommendations. Ask your own bank if it can be more competitive. You might also check out alternative business lenders for quick access to working capital through unsecured loans, though you can expect their interest rates to be higher than those at a bank.
Depending on your line of work, your business might have professional liability insurance, property insurance, automotive insurance, workers compensation insurance, and more. As your policies come up for renewal, check your deductibles and coverage limits to make sure they still fit and call other agents to compare premium options.
An emerging area of insurance for businesses to consider is cyber liability. Big businesses most often make the news for data breaches, but smaller businesses can also be targets. Cyber attacks are on the rise, and costs can be significant for business disruption, fines, ransoms, files lost, system upgrades, and concessions to customers. As hackers’ tactics evolve, cyber liability coverage is changing, so find an agent who can walk you through the latest details.
4. Data and file storage
Keeping your files in the cloud provides backup and security and allows for remote access and collaboration, especially when you’re dealing with large files. Service providers abound, and costs are often tiered based on your needs. Take stock of your business’s needs annually and shop around to make sure you’re getting the right mix of price, storage capacity, ease of use, security, and customer support. Comcast Business provides the option of continuous, automatic cloud backup with Carbonite Pro.
If you handle some or all of your company’s books, you might rely on accounting software. Some of these services are free; others charge monthly fees. Take time periodically to review the options and your needs. Consider whether you need your accounting software to integrate with mobile apps or to allow multiple users and whether you need features for payroll, invoicing tax preparation, or industry benchmarking. Compare complex functions versus simpler, more streamlined interfaces, and find out if your service offers real accountants you can tap for expertise when needed.
Also, evaluate whether you should be working directly with a professional accountant. If bookkeeping is taking too much of your time, you want to apply for a loan and need to get your financials in impressive shape, or you are concerned about tax compliance, an accountant could be immensely valuable to your business.
Running a small business can be demanding. Remember to take a step back from the day-to-day grind and evaluate whether your everyday services — whether it’s file storage or Internet packages — are in working order.