Have a great idea for your own small business, but don’t feel like you have the experience to get started with making it a reality? With the job situation still uncertain in much of the country, many people are stepping away from traditional job paths to start their own companies instead. Fortunately, this means that there is lots of information out there for others who are interested in starting up their own businesses.
When starting a small business, one good place to begin is with your technology. This will be one of the biggest upfront costs for your small business, so before you go through all of the trouble of finding an office location and posting job descriptions, you should make sure that you will be able to provide the basic technology you will need for your small company.
Though it is getting increasingly common for employers to request that employees provide their own devices for work, you will have a much more secure office network if you provide your employees with devices. You will need at least one computer for each of your employees, but this doesn’t have to be a huge investment. Unless you are running a web design company, in which case you probably will want to invest in top-of-the-line equipment, you should be able to get away with refurbished computers that will be much less expensive than new computers.
Choose between desktop and laptop computers for each employee based on the nature of their work. If you have employees who frequently need to work from home or from customer sites, it will make more sense to get them a laptop. But if you have an employee who works in web design and needs to spend long hours sitting in front of a screen, it will make sense to invest in a nice desktop computer that will be more comfortable for long periods of at-desk use.
A Strong Web Setup
Virtually every company needs a website. Before you get started with building your website for your new company, you will want to come up with a plan for how you will host and manage your website. If, for example, your small business will focus on website or web presence primarily, it might make sense for you to do everything in-house. That is, you could actually hire an in-house IT manager who would be responsible for maintaining your servers, your services, and all of your devices.
Otherwise, it will probably make more sense for you to use professional services. For example, you would probably want to pay for web hosting from a company like GoDaddy rather than manage your own server. Whichever route you choose, you will definitely want to make sure you are investing in software to protect your services from attack. For example, a service like SiteLock DDoS Security will help you make sure your website does not get targeted for hacking or denial of service problems.
If you go this route, you may also want to sign up for a hosted IT service. This way, you are not responsible for paying and employing a full-time IT employee, but rather you will pay a monthly fee to a company that will address all of your IT issues as they occur.
When considering your general web policy, you will also want to think about your actual web service. Business web service is different from regular residential web service, so you will need to make sure you are getting a service that matches the demands your company will place upon it.
You may also want to consider what you will do about phone service. Will your company be the kind of company that will actually need to use office phones, or would it make more sense to have your employees use cell phones for everything? Will you be able to cover the costs of dedicated work cell phones for each employee or do you want them to use their own cell phones? In that case, are you prepared to cover the costs of their work calls?
If you do want to go with actual office phones, do you want to go with landline service or VoIP? Most new companies do not use landline service these days as it is generally more trouble to install landlines than it is worth. If you do choose VoIP service (VoIP is basically phone service that is carried over the Internet rather than over actual landlines), you can choose to buy it from your Internet service provider, or you can get it from a dedicated VoIP company. If you get it from your ISP, it will probably cost a bit more but you can more easily bundle it with your Internet service. If you get it from a dedicated provider, it will generally be less expensive, but service can be finicky.
The Extra Pieces
So now you’ve addressed your basic tech needs for the office place: computers, Internet service, and phones. As long as you have a consistent, reasonable policy in place for your devices and service, you should be good to go in getting started. That is, you shouldn’t ask one employee to bring their own computer but provide a computer for another. And you shouldn’t allow one employee to use your network on their private device and not let another do the same.
Now it’s time to start thinking about your future tech needs and how to budget for them: specific tools employees will need like electronic drawing pads, web and phone conferencing services, online faxing, etc. The list could go on and on so don’t overwhelm yourself before you’ve even gotten started. Just begin with the basics, go from there, and good luck!