When you run a business, technical difficulties are bound to arise from time to time. Slow computers, viruses, and printer problems are the most common tech issues that home-based business owners tend to run into. If you were at an office-based company, you'd hand your tech problems over to the IT guy, and everything would be magically back to normal by the end of the day.
But as a small business owner working from home, who can you turn to for tech support? Before you panic, know that a solution to your tech problem is out there — you just have to find the right source of help for your situation. Let's explore six home tech support services that are available.
1. Be proactive
By taking preventative measures from the very start, you can avoid many tech issues – and the need to search for outside tech support. Tim Singleton, president of Strive Technology Consulting, works with many small business owners to troubleshoot their tech challenges and says that being proactive is key.
To keep your computer running fast and in top shape, try an inexpensive program like CCleaner that deletes unwanted files and settings that have collected over time. Use a professional antivirus program that scans your emails and your computer files, as “most ransomware comes through email these days,” Singleton says.
Fighting with your printer? One simple trick Singleton recommends is to go into the printer queue (often called “See What’s Printing”), and delete everything listed there. Do you have a notification from your printer that there’s a paper jam? If so, clear it. If not, delete everything in the print queue and reboot your computer. That will fix a lot of printing issues.
What's the most important piece of advice Singleton has for small business owners? Back up your computers to the cloud on a daily basis.
“USB drives aren’t good enough. Back up all documents, desktop, browser favorites, QuickBooks files, and anything else you couldn’t do without. Hackers, viruses, accidental overwrites, malicious employees, or contractors — they will all attack your data. If you have solid offsite backup, you will always be safe from these threats,” he says.
2. Check community forums
Do an online search for the issue you are experiencing. You might get lucky and find that someone else has had the same problem, solved it, and kindly explained the solution in detail in an online forum or article.
If it's a problem with your device, go the brand website and check the Help page, Tech Support forum, or Community forum, like the Help & Support page for Comcast Business customers. Don't see what you're looking for? Several reputable tech support forums also exist where voluntary IT experts or people with tech experience offer computer technical support services (for free) that are posted in the forums.
A few sites to explore include:
If you can't find a solution to your problem in the forums, post your question — someone will usually respond.
3. Try over-the-phone tech support – but only for Internet troubles
For Internet troubles, call your Internet provider. Comcast Business offers 24/7 support, so you can call anytime. For computer support services, call the manufacturer or the store where you bought your device. If this doesn't work, move on to the options below.
While over-the-phone tech support may sometimes work for other computer problems, Singleton warns business owners to watch out for scammers. “Their incentive is not to make you happy and retain you as a customer but to get your payment and get you off the phone. I wouldn’t recommend that route.”
4. Watch YouTube tutorials
Here's another free option, although this one is best reserved for those who feel confident in their DIY skills. Even if you understand what you're supposed to do from watching the person in the video, you may need specific tools and considerable manual dexterity. Also, if you damage any hardware while tinkering around, you may make the problem worse or void your device's warranty.
5. Hire an hourly IT guy
You managed to establish a thriving business all on your own, so a little computer trouble shouldn't be too hard to figure out, right?
Singleton finds that “most small businesses owners have a hard time remembering that their time is valuable. It might be to your benefit to pay a professional to fix the problem so you can get back to work. The amount of money you save by doing it yourself is often far offset by the hours you get back in having a professional do it quickly and usually more effectively. In general, if you have spent more than an hour working on it yourself, take it to an hourly IT guy or a trusted tech repair shop.”
Websites like Thumbtack and TaskRabbit are virtual marketplaces where you can enter your zip code and get a list of all local IT guys (among other professional services) with reviews. You can also check out Yelp for reviews of local professionals.
6. Take your device to a tech repair shop
Thanks to the community forums or a tech support hotline, you might know what's wrong but don't have the skills to fix the problem yourself. If that's the case, bring your device to a tech equipment repair shop and ask for a free consultation.
Check Yelp for reputable computer repair shops near you. Some electronic retail stores also offer this service for a fee, but if you purchased a service plan from the store where you bought your device, the repairs might cost you nothing. If you got your device online, email or call the company, and they will direct you to a repair shop near you that is certified to work with their products.
Comcast Business offers 24/7 customer support and a self-help customer portal to answer any questions you have. A rep is always on hand to help with any service issue you may experience.