Have you just opened up your new business? Congratulations! Great effort.

You’re taking a deep breath in as you smell the freshly painted walls and admire your funky new décor. At last you’ve got there, and you’re just going over the finer details with your lawyer and accountant for anything last minute. By now you are fully aware, this is real and you’re probably starting to wonder. What kind of computing infrastructure should I consider for my business?

The computer infrastructure you use will depend on your specific business needs. However, many businesses still have similar needs, six I believe you must have in the beginning in order to be successful.

  1. Local Technology Consultant
  2. High-Speed Internet Access
  3. Computers
  4. Data Security
  5. Website
  6. E-Mail
  7. Local Technology Consultant

The first step in starting off your technology infrastructure, is one of the most important investments you can make.  And that is to employ at least one or two local technology consultants, people you can trust.  A technology consultant can guide you in your technology growth and help you set up processes and structure. Check out their references and see what types of work they’ve done previously. Give them a chance to understand your business needs and prove they are working in your best interest. Businesses see the importance of using experienced people, the experts in their field to help us in our endeavours. For instance, an account to manage your money and a lawyer to read the legal fine print.  A local technology consultant is no different, we need their expertise.

No matter the size of your business big or small, everyone needs high-speed access to the internet. A high-speed internet will allow you to take advantage of online backup, VoIP and other technologies. On the other hand, having a dial-up access is just too slow and too limiting for any business.  In other words, you cannot do everything with dial up and it’s just not as efficient. Your internet service is the life blood of your business especially if like most businesses you do a significant amount of business online.

Importantly, do some research, you must make sure the vendor providing the service offers very reliable service and support.

  • Computers

Good tools of the trade are a necessity. And each employee must have a computer. Certainly, these computers should be reasonably new, high-speed machines, not slow, not scraping-the-barrel type relics from over 10 years ago. For example, every computer needs plenty of memory (256MB or more), hard-disk space (8GB or more), a fast processor (i5 or i7) and a quality screen with high resolution to avoid any eyestrain. Computer choice will vary from business to business depending on your industry. For instance, those businesses who deal with large files like graphic artists, and design shops, must have more powerful computers for higher graphics capabilities and also to manage and store the files. Therefore, backing up 100 hi-resolution photos will require much more memory than say a small law firm backing up a few word docs.

Subsequently, it’s extremely important that your businesses data is secure and backed up.

  • Firstly, your local network and all computers need a firewall (a hardware firewall for your network and at least a software-based firewall for each computer)
  • Secondly, anti-virus software with features to detect phishing and other online threats. Some are available in a bundle.
  • Moreover, make sure your computers and network are configured by a local security consultant. The general knowledge of your new provider may not be enough to advise on your specific business needs. Importantly, the expert needs to properly harden your computers and network from online attackers.

If you have a wireless- network, you need to ensure it’s secured as well. The next phase of your security plan is backing up all your data and putting in place a recovery procedure. If you came to work and found everything destroyed, what would you do? A recovery procedure or plan is important for the recovery of your data onto other computer systems. Unfortunately, you have- to be prepared for the worst- case scenario.

If your business is working with the sensitive personal information of your customers, for instance financial information, or social security information, securing information is even more important. This is where a professional security consultant is vital to making sure your information is safe and secure. Both your network and your online applications must be secure. Hackers use “back door” holes in the online software to access your database via your website. Therefore, It’s imperative your online application or database is properly configured.

  • Website

Because you are just starting out, initially to may have a simple site that acts like a digital brochure, and that’s great. Every business needs a website, especially a new one. But later- on, you’ll want to consider having a website filled with current information for your customers, partners and employees to access.

You can also hire a website designer to build you a website or alternatively, you can easily build your own website. Useful tools to build your own design Homestead Technologies, Microsoft Office Live or many other web-hosting companies.

As your needs change and the business grows and develops website with as much customer-facing information as possible are a good idea. Firstly, they will reduce the amount of inbound e-mail and phone calls to your business. Secondly, customers can serve themselves from your website and be satisfied, and why not? it’s instant and assessible.

  • E-Mail

Here’s a secret to looking professional, get rid of your Yahoo! or Hotmail e-mail address. It’s so easy to have an e-mail address with your own business name, it’s part of your branding. As part of your web-hosting service, your web host can set up e-mail accounts for you. Or on the other hand, you can work with your local technology consultant.

Are you in a regulated industry (controlled by government rules)? It’s enormously important that you have systems in place to archive your e-mails. This ensures you comply with government regulations for your industry.

Starting a new business is an exciting time and full of new possibilities. Turn the possibilities in a reality, with the right advice. 

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