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March 2005

Small businesses with assets under $10 million are a large target for the IRS, and auditors are being trained as experts in the industries they examine. Documenting expenses should start on the day a business opens, but there are steps an owner can take to play catch-up.

Features

Is IT an expense or an investment? By taking a proactive approach rather than buying when the needs strikes, a small business can find that budgeting for tech spending presents an opportunity to increase productivity and cut costs.

By stepping up IT security measures, businesses reduced annual losses from security breaches in 2004. To protect their companies and client data, small businesses are focusing on Web filtering tools and intrusion detection and prevention systems.

Small businesses that seek growth face numerous decisions as they integrate technology into their growth plans. Several companies share their own successes and failures, providing a roadmap for others traveling along similar paths.

When Michael Krasny tried selling a used computer through the classifieds in the early 1980s, he had no idea he was creating a business that would become one of the world's top computer sellers.

Departments

It didn't take long for "casual Fridays" to extend into the rest of the week, and traditional business attire soon went the way of rotary phones at many companies. Three small-business executives and a high-school football coach speak out on dress codes—and their influence on behavior, morale and performance.

For small businesses considering IT purchases, a formal cost-benefit analysis might not tell the whole story. Some companies also want to know how the new technology will enhance productivity, security, customer service and future growth.

DolphinSearch has the technology to rapidly sift through corporate e-mail and computer files for evidence in lawsuits. The 62-employee firm is strategically investing in IT to become a player in the growing electronic-discovery market.

Most new notebooks hitting the market are WiFi-ready, so users just need a hotspot to connect to the Internet. Sales and marketing reps are using the technology to close transactions on the road—and that's only one advantage of today's "offices without walls."

A number of systems are available to help small businesses capitalize on the intersection of telephony and Web services. Daniel P. Dern provides insights on what to think about in making the transition.

Opinion