Empowering SMBs: What To Do If You Can’t Afford A vCIO

Every small to medium-sized business (SMB) recognises the need for technology within their business however balancing the increasing complexity of IT, together with the constant daily barrage of cyber-threats, the intricacies of various cloud options, and just the sheer pace of changes can be overwhelming.

Most business owners aren’t technology experts so staying on top of these challenges is not only time consuming, but also way outside their comfort zone and skillset.  Your Managed Service Provider (MSP) can keep the lights on and your systems running, but who is thinking about the future and the more strategic view of your technology needs?

One common solution is to hire a virtual CIO (vCIO), someone who can provide strategic, executive level support for your business and help you determine the right strategy, oversee your cyber-security posture, and make sure your MSP and any projects you undertake are successfully delivering.  However even the cost of a part-time vCIO can be prohibitive for many SMBs.

In my conversations with prospective clients, I often get feedback that although they recognise that technology is crucial, they simply cannot afford to engage a virtual CIO to manage this aspect of their business. In these cases, what I recommend is that they look to undertake professional training so they can get the necessary IT management skills needed to successfully navigate their business through these technology challenges.


Why Do It Yourself?

Here are some of the triggers as to why you would consider undergoing training and then looking after your technology needs yourself:

  1. The Cost of External Expertise: Retaining a vCIO or equivalent IT expert often requires a financial commitment that stretches beyond the means of many SMBs.
  2. Limited Support from Managed Service Providers (MSPs): While most MSPs can alleviate some of the IT burdens, they often provide very standardised solutions that may not align with the unique requirements of every SMB. It is also common for an MSP to only recommend services and systems that they already support. This can often lead to inefficiencies or overspending on unnecessary services.
  3. Desire for Operational Autonomy: By acquiring IT management skills themselves SMBs can gain greater control over their IT operations, enabling them to make informed decisions that directly benefit their business without being overly reliant on external providers.
  4. Need for Tailored Strategies: Each SMB has unique business objectives and operational requirements. Professional training in IT management equips SMB owners with the knowledge to develop customised IT strategies that align with their specific business goals.


Getting Control Of Your Technology

Here’s how this type of training can help you to increase the control of your IT:

  1. Cost Efficiency: Training in IT management represents a one-time investment that can significantly reduce long-term costs associated with hiring external consultants or full-time IT executives, making it a financially prudent choice for SMBs with limited budgets.
  2. Enhanced Security: Professional courses on cybersecurity equip SMB owners and their staff with the knowledge and skills necessary to fortify their systems against the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats – a crucial capability today.
  3. Continuous Learning: Technology is constantly evolving, and IT management training provides SMBs with the foundational knowledge to stay abreast of new developments, software updates, and emerging best practices, enabling them to adapt and evolve their IT strategies as needed.
  4. Strategic Empowerment: Learning how to align IT strategies with overarching business objectives is a key outcome of such training, empowering SMBs to leverage technology as a powerful tool for growth, innovation, and competitive advantage.


Topics To Learn About

Here is a suggested list of topics that SMB owners should look to learn about and understand to effectively handle the technological needs of their businesses:

  • Essential IT Infrastructure
  • Cloud Computing
  • Managing Managed Service Providers
  • Cyber-Security Essentials
  • Using Data in Decision Making
  • Understanding Future Technologies
  • Developing a Strategic Plan


With this level of coverage, SMB owners should be able to better manage their current IT environments, prepare for future challenges, and ensure their technology investments align with their business goals.


Benefits Of Doing It Yourself

The decision for SMBs to invest in IT management training should extend far beyond mere cost savings – it represents a proactive step towards taking control of their technology destiny. This approach not only enhances their operational capabilities in the present but also prepares them for future growth and success. By laying a strong foundation of IT knowledge and skills, SMBs equip themselves with the ability to potentially integrate more sophisticated technologies into their business as it scales and evolves.

Moreover, this approach can help to foster a culture of technological self-reliance and empowerment within the organisation. SMB owners and their staff gain a deeper understanding of the digital tools and systems that drive their business, enabling them to make more informed decisions and troubleshoot issues with greater efficiency. This knowledge transfer can develop a more cohesive and technology-savvy workforce.



Although I am a virtual CIO and it might seem counter-intuitive for me to be sharing my thoughts on taking a DIY approach to IT management, I recognise that in a time where technology can make or break a business, being equipped with the right skills to manage and strategise around IT resources is invaluable. Not being able to afford external expertise doesn’t lessen your need.

By investing in IT management training, SMB owners can gain control over their technology destiny, enhance their operational capabilities, and position their businesses for long-term growth and success. It is a powerful step towards self-reliance, cost-efficiency, and strategic alignment – equipping you and your business with the knowledge and skills to navigate the digital landscape confidently and effectively.

While I firmly believe in empowering SMBs through professional IT training, I also recognise that the DIY approach may not be the ideal fit for every business. If you find yourself in need of strategic, executive-level IT guidance tailored to your unique requirements, I invite you to explore my vCIO services.

As an experienced vCIO, I can provide the external expertise to help determine the right technology strategy for your organisation, oversee your cybersecurity posture, and ensure your IT investments align with your business goals. Reach out to me to discuss how my vCIO services can support your long-term growth and success in the digital landscape.

Alternatively, if you’re interested in upskilling yourself or your team and taking a more hands-on approach to IT management, I am currently developing a comprehensive training program that covers the key topics outlined in this article, so reach out to me if you are interested in finding out more.

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