Starting a new business is a daunting task – funding, location, business plans, employees… there are a lot of things to think about and get into place!
Every business needs to have a number of services in place so they can effectively find clients, be found by potential clients, and help those clients once they come onboard. To help those frazzled new business owners, we’ve put together a list of essential items and services every business needs to operate effectively.
Internet access – 15 years ago, Internet access was something that many businesses looked at as a luxury, or maybe even as a passing fad. Now Internet access is critical for every business, and it’s become the main communications tool in the workplace with 87% of Americans using the Internet to correspond with each other (up from 46% in 2000 according to Pew Research). Different businesses will have different needs – a smaller new business with only a few employees may be just fine with a lower level connection such as DSL, while a manufacturing firm that plans to use the Internet to track all of their shipments, coordinate orders and vendor files, and sell products needs to have a much faster and more reliable connection such as Metro Ethernet or Ethernet over Copper.
Telephone service – Plenty of customers are still picking up the phone to call businesses to inquire about their services, hours, and location, so it’s critical to still maintain quality phone service. Many providers nowadays will offer packages, bundling both Internet access along with phone service, and we’re no exception. With so many businesses opting for Digital Voice (aka VoIP) service, it makes sense to make sure that the Internet access provided is the best option to carry the voice traffic along with the Internet traffic from employee web use. For many new businesses, looking at a service like Hosted PBX makes a lot of sense since it provides both the necessary hardware plus all the value added features like individual voicemail boxes and call forwarding that companies traditionally needed to purchase thousands of dollars worth of equipment to use.
Website hosting – The days of potential clients looking in the Yellow Pages or at printed ads to find you are nearly over. Print ads are still in use (and being used well in some instances), but the majority of potential clients are looking online to find you and your business. It’s critical to have a website built and hosted so you can be found 24×7. Quality website hosting will ensure that your website is always online in a secure environment, which is doubly important if eCommerce is a big part of your business plan. Here at MegaNet, all of the sites we host are backed up across multiple server clusters in at least two different geographic locations.
Email service – Those potential clients who are looking at your services on your website are most likely going to email you for more information, or to place an order. Your employees are also going to be emailing vendors and clients as well, so reliable email service is the fourth communications piece in your new business plan. Different email services provide different features and functions. Businesses with average email use can use something like our MegaMail service, which is built on the IMAIL platform and provides both traditional POP and IMAP access for users who can choose from either a web browser interface, or a desktop email client. Businesses who want a little more shared functionality along with heavy mobile access may want a more robust service such as Hosted Exchange or Google Apps. Some companies that require strict email security and privacy can also opt to look into a dedicated email server as well. Bottom line – there are plenty of business-class email services to fit any size business’s needs.
Offsite data backup – Protecting and securing data seems to be the least looked at feature by new businesses. In fact, surveys and studies have shown that less than 50% of businesses are backing up their data! Face it, with businesses relying on data such as inventory count, customer orders, and internal finances, if your company were to completely lose it’s data due to disaster… sadly you probably wouldn’t have a company any more. 6% of all computers will lose some data every year (and many times it’s simply due to human error) so making sure your data is backed up will most certainly help protect your new business against financial loss (all statistics courtesy of The PC Support Group). Offsite cloud-based backup services are an excellent option, as many times the backup is automated through software and businesses don’t have to worry about forgetting to back up. Keeping the data offsite is also beneficial in case there’s fire or water damage that could cause locally backed up data (such as tape or removable hard drive) to be lost as well.
All of the pieces in this new business telecom plan work together to help build a solid foundation to help your company group from the ground up. If you put together a reliable communications network, and make sure your company’s data is secured, your business should have a very long and profitable life.