Over the weekend I read Taking care of the cobbler’s children on Nash Ramblings. This is good advice, punctuated by experience and some realistic scare stories.

Post author Donald Patti starts with a story of an otherwise-thriving small business temporarily crippled by its systems failing. He says:

Yet, despite the obvious success of the business, the network equipment was nearly a decade old, all of the servers were used or refurbished and the employees’ desktop computers were more than two generations obsolete.

He refers to basic economics, where productivity is affected by capital and people. Why do entrepreneurs let this happen? he asks and then answers:

In most cases, small-business owners build their business from the ground up by repeatedly stretching human resources to make up for the lack of capital investment or technology, rewarding these employees with equity or large delivery bonuses in exchange for working lots of overtime. As time passes, the entrepreneur equates scarcity and heavy workloads with success

This is a good lesson, and a good reminder. Most companies work on computers, and old, slow computers–with small monitors–are a drag. I’m proud to say that as we grew Palo Alto Software, during the critical growth years, we tried to keep our computers and software up-to-date, always. Productivity begins with tools.

Donald Patti goes on to share four specific scare stories of small businesses hurt by failure to upgrade equipment. Things like losing the best programmers or losing the best customers. Scary stories.

My mother used to use the phrase “penny-wise, pound-foolish.” It fits.

(Photo credit: Seattle Municipal Archives via Flickr)

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.