Being out there surviving on your own means thinking differently. Richard Jenkins, a KindredHQ friend who runs his own IT business, shares his thinking on why you should be thinking around corners.
Humans in general have a tendency to think in straight lines. Using accepted, approved ways of doing things to achieve standard results. Nothing inherently wrong with that, and for some things (the testing of new medicines comes to mind), it is exactly what you should be doing. However, the problems start when this is the only method at your disposal for solving problems. When applied to many situations in business, straight-line thinking often results in solutions that are more expensive and complex than they need to be.
What you need to do is start thinking around corners: considering solutions outside the typical ‘this is how we deal with problem X’ set.
For instance: when a business decides that it’s time to move from stand-alone PCs to a full client-server network, many decision makers would purchase an off-the-shelf server and a copy of Microsoft Windows Small Business Server, and maybe employ a consultant to set everything up. Quite a costly proposition (mostly due to the high cost of the Windows licence).
They chose this option because they thought it was the only one available to them that met all their requirements. Wrong. It is perfectly possible to set up a Windows network without paying through the nose for server software (and I’m definitely not talking about piracy here!). Using Linux, a free alternative to Windows, you can get the same functionality for a fraction of the cost.
Even the fact that setting up such a network is slightly more technically complex shouldn’t put you off: if you were going to employ someone to set up the Windows network, paying for another hour or two of time shouldn’t be much of a problem. Especially considering the hundreds of pounds (thousands, in some cases) you’ve saved already. Furthermore, when the time comes to upgrade you’ll save even more; no shelling out for the upgrade licence!
A small example from one industry, but I’m sure you can see how a similar attitude can be applied elsewhere. Finding out about alternatives, and using knowledge as opposed to money to solve problems are probably the two most important tools available to get you out of your mental rut and thinking a bit differently to everyone else.
If you’d like more information on Open Source IT solutions for business, try Open Source for Business.