As a small business owner, one of the many hats you may need to wear is that of IT manager. Keeping your computer systems running smoothly can be quite the endeavor -- and one you'd rather outsource -- but the cost of hiring an outside IT service to do so can seem prohibitive. Thankfully, this problem is not as black and white as it may seem. There are ways to keep IT costs down without forgoing this service entirely. 

1. Hire a consultant.

Instead of hiring a full-time IT support person or paying to be on the roster of a big IT company, consider looking for an independent consultant who is willing to do work for you on an as-needed basis. There are many people out there who had previous careers in IT, are now retired, and are just looking for a little piecemeal work here and there. They may be willing to put in a few hours here and there at an hourly rate and then standby until you need them again in a few weeks.

2. Keep software up to date.

You are much more likely to have trouble with your information technology if you let your software get out of date. Outdated software is more likely to be corrupted by viruses or have compatibility issues. If you pay your consultant for a few hours of updates, you won't have to pay them for as many hours of advanced compatibility work or virus clearing.

3. Keep your system simple.

The more devices you have on a system, the more complicated that system becomes to manage. You should feel free to include the devices you need, but leave it at that. You probably don't need four different printers, and you probably don't need to add three extra tablets to the network just in case. Use discretion when allowing employees to connect their own devices, as this can lead to corruption issues and complications, too.

4. Rely on free software when possible.

If there are any small tools you need on a temporary basis -- perhaps just for a project or two -- see if there is a free option you can use. If you do hire an IT consultant, they may be able to recommend one. 

You do not have to spend a fortune on IT and IT support when you have a small business. Follow the tips above to keep costs manageable. For more information, you can contact companies like Eclipse Technology.