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Top IT Strategies and Tools for Small and Growing Businesses

Mark Kennedy

Top IT Strategies and Tools for Small and Growing Businesses

There are technology and software selection missteps in the early, growth, and even middle stages of a business that can cost significant time and money, or worse put the viability of the organization in jeopardy. You can avoid these common, and often debilitating slowdowns by putting certain strategies in place as well as selecting a technology stack that streamlines information flow and KPI reporting throughout your company.

Our very own virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO), Mark Kennedy, gave us a full rundown on what key strategies and technology solutions to use when seeking to grow a business.

Expert Overview & Insights

Mark has been in the IT industry for over 20 years. He’s done everything from owning an IT managed services company to developing a custom dispatching software for customers in the concrete and construction industries.

In this blog, we'll cover some of the key tools and strategies Mark endorses. We also provide insights that will help you make the choices necessary to take your business to the next level of efficiency, security, and profitability.

We’ve broken down the 5 major strategies that will position your business for growth while reducing risks. Then we’ll touch upon some key products for a technology stack (tech stack) that can streamline information flow and reporting.

1. Keep Your Tech Stack Simple

Simple is efficient. When choosing which technology stack works best for your business, keep it simple and straightforward. Additionally, find software solutions that integrate with each other so information can flow through your business. Having data silos makes it difficult to quickly obtain reports that show the full picture of what is going on in a business. Consider an ERP solution if data and reporting feel siloed within your organization.

2. Leverage the Cloud

With the ability to upload data into the cloud, this is another simple yet powerful way to create ease and efficiency in your business. Access, create, edit and share files from any device anywhere - never missing a beat when you need a file on the spot. Uninterrupted and quick access to information minimizes risks and drives workforce productivity. It also enables an organization to provide for some remote work flexibility, something more employees are seeking in today's economy.

3. Cultivate A Security 1st Culture

Cultivating a cybersecurity-minded staff is a business’ best line of defense along with security software. Often, it’s human error that compromises a company’s information security rather than an external attack on systems.

It’s not uncommon for a hacker to silently infiltrate a company without the company being aware. The hacker will then monitor the company’s email and other systems until they gain an understanding of things such as the payroll cycle. Then they’ll strike at a lucrative or vulnerable time to get the most out of the company.

Companies can lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions, because of growing cyber threats. A cybersecurity-minded staff who uses tools such as two-factor authentication could prevent breaches that significantly damage a company.

The unsettling truth:

  • 28% of Data Breaches in 2020 involved Small Businesses - Verizon Business 2020 DBIR
  • 71% of Ransomware Attacks Targeted Small Businesses in 2018 - Tech Times
  • Ransomware Surged by 150% in 2020 with the average extortion amount doubling to $170,000 - Infosecurity Magazine
  • Causing an average downtime in businesses of 18 days

The resolution:

  • Train your staff to recognize Cybersecurity Risks.
  • 95% of all cybersecurity breaches are caused by human error. You can have all the security in the world but if your staff doesn’t know how to “lock the doors” and recognize threats then you’re just as vulnerable as if you had none. A great product that helps build a Security 1st Culture is:
  • Turn on Two-Factor Authentication on all systems/accounts that have it
  • Use a password manager like 1Password

4. Create A Cyber Resilience Plan

Statistics now show that it’s not if you’re going to get hacked but when, and having steps in place to mitigate loss and disruptions in your operations is essential to a thriving business.

The real dangers:

  • 50% of Small Businesses fail within a month of a cyberattack -
  • 43% of cyber attacks target small businesses - small biz trends
  • 300% increase in reported cybercrime since COVID-19 start - FBI

What to do:

Follow the NIST Cybersecurity Framework provided by the government which is to Identify, Detect, Protect, Respond and Recover from a threat. You can check out the specific details to this helpful framework at

5. Select Appropriate Solutions (Tech Stacks)

It can be overwhelming to find the best solutions for your business. From security and data storage to marketing communications and accounting, there’s a great deal of options out there. Choosing the right ones is essential for your business continuity and growth.

Putting foundational pieces in a company that can grow and scale with you is key to developing a business that is running smoothly.

Below is a list of products that can be used as a tech stack for your company.

HubSpot - For Customer Relations Management (CRM)

Hubspot’s CRM platform is automatically integrated with Hubspot marketing, sales, customer service, and operations from the start. Which makes it seamless and streamlined, freeing up more time to focus on serving your customers and growing your business faster.

Active Campaign - For Marketing Automation

Active Active Campaign provides an affordable and robust suite of marketing automation tools such as email flows, SMS messaging, contact management/segmentation, custom landing pages, and more. Today, establishing a digital customer journey and continuing providing value-added marketing communications and resources is vital to keeping your company top of mind with current and new customers.

Awesome Web Designs - For Website Design

AWD is a creative studio that offers excellent quality in Web Design, Graphic Design, and Digital Marketing not just in Toronto but abroad. The talented team has a variety of experience ranging from web development and brand identity to growth hacking and inbound marketing services. With friendly and fantastic customer service coupled with great quality work, AWD is never short of highly satisfied customers.

Xero - For Accounting

A cloud-based accounting software that is highly efficient at helping users stay organized with all bookkeeping functions and accounting needs. With easy currency conversion, automated bank feeds, very user-friendly interface and other great benefits, it’s no surprise they have over 2.74 million subscribers as of May 2021.

Outlook - For Email

Said straight from our vCIO, “The value that’s in the Microsoft 365 package for small businesses is enormous.” And that includes Outlook with its very user-friendly interface, task and event reminders using shared calendars, organizing and categorizing inboxes, and much more.

Microsoft Teams - For Company Chat

Microsoft Teams is the instrument of choice for collaboration and teamwork. Due to Office 365’s tight integration, you don’t need to switch apps to collaborate on a document. You can simply create a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint document right in Teams and share it with your coworkers on the spot, and immediately begin editing and adding to it as a team.

Sharepoint - For File sharing

Microsoft SharePoint is a cloud-based service that helps your business share and manage content, knowledge, and applications. All to facilitate fluid teamwork, find information quickly, and seamlessly collaborate across the entire business.

Onsip - For Phone Systems

Onip is a flexible business phone solution that allows you to scale your phone system as it grows with your business. It’s easy to set up as it does not require new equipment for installation. It has lots of features including softphone apps, extension dialing, video conferencing, great customer service and much more.

Backblaze - For File backup

Data is like gold and because hacking is becoming more common when considering the stats we just discussed, it’s crucial to have a reliable backup solution. Backblaze is low-cost yet extremely secure for all kinds of businesses. It’s many features include unlimited storage, continuous backup, full disk backup, unlimited file sizes, and a whole lot more.

1Password - For Password Manager

As we keep making the point on security, having a strong password manager is a must. 1Password protects all your passwords using strong encryption and security practices. It allows you to store passwords, software licenses and other sensitive information in a virtual vault that is locked with a master password. It also conveniently remembers all of your online logins. Strongly recommended by our vCIO.

In summary, focus on these 5 key strategies and your business will grow into a secure and fluid organization.

1. Keep Your Tech Stack Simple

2. Leverage The Cloud

3. Cultivate A Security 1st Culture

4. Create A Cyber Resilience Plan

5. Select Appropriate Solutions

To understand how best to take advantage of these strategies sign-up for ShapeConnect and share your needs. You will be connected with a dedicated advisor and matched with business software and services to achieve your company’s goals.

Join ShapeConnect Here Today.