Young entrepreneurs encouraged to embrace the Cloud

Bright Ideas Trust (BIT) is advising start ups and small businesses to embrace outsourced IT solutions to reduce costs and maintain competitiveness in the current economic climate.

The social enterprise has updated its own inhouse IT solutions by moving to a rented service which will cut costs, improve communications and increase productivity. BIT’s hosted solution covers email, document storage, relationship and contact management and mobile access using smartphones and browsers.

The advice comes from Tim Campbell, founder of BIT and winner of the first Apprentice series, which mentors and helps young people between the ages of 16 to 30 to set up and run successful businesses.

With over half of UK small firms not making a profit in the first few months of 2009 according to SmallBusiness.co.uk, and due to the current scarcity of growth capital, young entrepreneurs risk investing too much capital upfront on inhouse IT and communications infrastructure, which is expensive to purchase and maintain, can quickly become outdated and can prohibit flexible and remote working.

Tim Campbell commented: “No matter how good your idea, it is important that entrepreneurs can move quickly, remain flexible, minimise costs and have access to the latest IT and communications technology. Having the right IT in place from the outset is just as important as having the right financial and business advice.

“Entrepreneurs often think that they need to invest thousands in getting the very best IT infrastructure in place, but the fact is that advances in Cloud computing have made state of the art solutions available to all businesses of all sizes on a per user, per month basis with support and maintenance included. This has the additional advantage in that entrepreneurs can access emails, colleagues and business information wherever they are, making the virtual office a reality,” he added.

BIT is practising what it preaches with a package of hosted services from Outsourcery, which is expected to save the organisation more than £40,000 over three years compared to an equivalent inhouse solution.

Previously, BIT didn’t have full mobile email synchronisation, saved its documents locally on hard drives, had no access to shared calendar and contacts, and relied solely on spreadsheets to manage its relationships. Outsourcery has provided a package comprising hosted Microsoft Exchange 2007, SharePoint, Dynamics CRM 4.0 and a hosted BlackBerry Enterprise Server to enable BIT’s management team to access documents remotely, share tasks and meeting dates and create a central database for all client information.

“We’ve been providing effective business mentors and sound financial advice to our young entrepreneurs since BIT started two years ago,” said Campbell. “The solution from Outsourcery immediately changed the way we functioned internally and helped a developing social enterprise with limited resources, take advantage of the benefits that an integrated IT solution offers, allowing us to punch above our weight. The cost savings coupled with the benefits of improved communications and having all information stored securely in one central place with multiple means of accessing it, has made us more productive.”

Piers Linney, joint chief executive officer at Outsourcery, added: “Many small businesses still shy away from Cloud computing as it sounds complex and too technical for them, but hosted IT is the best possible fit for start ups and small and medium-sized enterprises. Not only can they gain access to the latest products from the software companies such as Microsoft on low cost and flexible payment terms, but it’s also a great environment to trial and test IT solutions to make sure you’ve got the best fit for your business. We offer solutions that are normally only available to larger corporates. Our aim is to empower entrepreneurs to get on with the business of running their business instead of worrying about their IT and communications.”