Starting and running a small business is challenging. The hardest thing is knowing what you need for a successful small business IT setup. Most small businesses start with an idea, but in order to be successful you need to know what technology you need to get the message out there about your product and how to manage your products and services and your customers and suppliers. Below are our tips to set you on your way to being a successful small business:
#1 Data protection
The news is rife with data privacy breaches and it’s not going to get any better. As hackers find a way to infiltrate the systems around the world, everyone’s data is more and more vulnerable. All the information businesses have on their customers and products and services needs to protected. But this is often easier said than done. So they need to ensure that this information is being backed up, and regularly. Without this information the business has nothing, and without data and network security, they are a law suit waiting to happen.
#2 Reliable internet connection
In this day and age of everyone carrying a computer in their pockets (via their mobile phones), it would be easy to think communication is simple. You need to be able to contact your customers and suppliers and they need to be able to contact you. But what happens when the phones go down? Again, we’ve seen the impact of this recently. So businesses need a reliable internet and phone connection. If your customers can’t call or email you, you can’t stay in business.
In over 25 years of business, we have seen the evolution of what critical business communications requirements were to a business. From Telex and telephone to Fax and then the internet. The evolution of the internet has meant a big shift to where businesses can now run their telephone and computers through their internet link (Cloud).
Many businesses just assumed that all Internet connections were the same, until they had issues, where they found out they were on residential services. When a problem occurred, it would take days or weeks to have the problem rectified, leaving the business without an Internet connection.
The ability to now run a company with nothing more than a mobile phone and a PC connected to the Internet, has allowed many businesses to grow exponentially without an office or physical presence.
#3 Reliable and up-to-date computers
With technology used in every aspect of business these days, businesses can’t afford to not be able to access their computers. You need to have someone you trust who knows about IT, who can make sure you are always up and running, and can even see the problems before you know they are there. In small business you cannot afford to have you and your people not working, or to be waiting days for your IT support people to fix the problem. Time is literally money when it comes to IT, and it’s worth investing in.
Computers in a modern office are the most essential piece of equipment for the staff. Most users of business computers cannot do their job without their PC. Over the years we have seen how reliant a user is to their trusty PC. Having had to repair and replace 1000’s of PCs over the years, we know what happens when their PC stops working.
Successful businesses understand that their PC’s are just as important as their Servers. They ensure they are covered by an onsite warranty, so any failed hardware is replaced quickly, without any extended downtime. They also look at the lifecycle of the PC’s and ensure that they are replaced before they become unreliable. While it may appear to be expensive to replace working PCs before they break, the cost of lost productivity and staff frustration far outweigh the cost of a new PC for the users. Replacement of PCs also allows for more features and performance, which improves staff productivity.
#4 Review data and filing methods
Are you always trying to find that important document that you saved somewhere, but cannot find it?
Do you always have to search your computer to find anything?
Do you have your data all over the place?
Most users dump data on their PC, with little regard for proper filing practices.
Hotline IT analyzes client’s current data and filing methods, then we create the directory structure to best match their requirements. We then dump existing data into a Read Only drive and force the users to open required documents from there. However, our structure directs them to save data into the new locations.
This gradually moves all live data to a clean, structured setup allowing us to eventually archive the old read-only data.
Similarly, using Document Management Systems (DMS) like Microsoft Office 365 SharePoint allows us to create stricter procedural-based saving for businesses. With a DMS in place, you are able to force users to add information when saving a document. You can use this information to “tag” documents to make searching and saving them easier, or even automatic. The end result creates a secure, searchable and easily accessible data store for all staff. Not only will this provide huge improvements in productivity, it will also ensure that company data does not disappear into the data dump.
#5 Perception is everything
Having an email address @hotmail.com or @insertISP.com.au is just not professional and creates a bad impression for your digital footprint and marketing.
You need to ensure that your online presence is professional. More often than not a potential customer will investigate online first and this is why the digital presence is so important.
- Get a domain name. While many names have already been taken, there are new domain extensions now available. Examples include: .sydney or .co that provide more options.
- Get the domain hosted, so that you can setup your website and email. You can usually do this by the place you bought your domain.
- Get a website design that provides you with your professional digital presence.
- Decide where to host your email domain. It will usually cost you a monthly subscription fee, there are no free options for this type of email hosting. Select carefully, e.g. If you choose the Google G Suite, you’ll need to use google Docs and their other suite of products. Whereas if you choose Office 365, you may find this a better fit as your staff are already using Microsoft Office, including Outlook, Word and Excel.
By having your own business domain name, will allow you to have an online presence that you can continually evolve and tweak to provide you with a fantastic marketing tool, that will be the envy of your competition.
If you need a FREE IT check, apply here, or give us a call to discuss your small business IT setup project.