If you own a small business or consider starting one then you should know that there are a lot of things that are essential to running that business. Your business needs to be registered, have at least one bank account, have accounting software and an accountant to name a few. You will also need some kind of IT infrastructure and it goes further that just a computer and an internet connection.
We tend to overlook certain things. For example, many of our clients (before they were our clients) used free anti-virus software and it turns out much of their complaints had their roots directly in the use of free AV software.
Are you perhaps guilty of thinking that you have every aspect of your IT sorted? Here is our list of most important things commonly overlooked or underappreciated.
This is probably the most obvious requirement simply because computers are involved in so many aspects of your business’ operations. You might use your computer for emailing, doing research, accounting, writing software, doing graphic designs, writing letters, designing buildings and the list goes on. For days.
Sure, there are certain tasks that might not require a computer but in some cases a computer can be used to assist in streamlining processes.
Let’s face it. No matter what your business does it will need at least one computer.
2. Anti-virus software
Commonly known as anti-virus they normally do much more than protect us against computer viruses. There are other threats out there which requires vigilance and well trusted software to protect us. People from all over the world want our private and sensitive information. Some want your bank details and others simply want access to your computer’s processor and memory resources so that they may hack other larger systems.
The reality is that if you do not have proper protection the chances of you falling victim to some sort of threat is 100%. Never trust free anti-virus tools and be very careful of store bought anti-virus. Why is this? Have you heard what happened to Kaspersky? Simply Google the phrase “Kasperky hack”.
Good old common sense goes only so far and investing in well established security software may well be the smartest thing you do.
Nearly every business requires a network. You may not know this but your WiFi (yes that thingy with the antennas) is a basic network. You don’t consider it to be a network but it does exactly what a wired network does but only through the air. Remember that WiFi isn’t a magic bullet to having a network. It has limitations and at some point installing some network cabling will be inevitable.
WiFi networks can become over populated very quickly and in office buildings your neighbors’ WiFi can kill yours since they may be using the same wireless frequencies. This is kind of like radio stations but for computer communications.
It will be a joyous day when we stop using paper but in the meantime you still need the toner elephant. You don’t just want any old printer. Since you have an office and the printer needs to be shared by multiple people you need a networked printer. They are much more affordable and economic these days. If you buy the right printer you will not only be able to print over the network but scanning and faxing (whatever that is) will also be possible over your network connection. Your printer can even email scanned documents to you or anyone for that matter.
The dreaded “S” word. You can buy a computer once but you might have to pay for the software again and again. Whether you are comfortable with that or not it’s a part of life we just have to accept and move on. Luckily most software vendors these days are realizing that their products are inaccessible to small businesses due to their extreme pricing and are coming up with all kinds of new ways for everyone to access their software.
Some software vendors have free “community” editions available. Others provide stripped down versions of the software at a lower cost. Most vendors nowadays have some sort of monthly or yearly subscription plan. A great example is Microsoft with Office 365. Their pricing may seem a little expensive at first but if you take into account that you will ALWAYS have the latest version of their software and even pay a little less than buying a once-off license then it’s seems like a really great option.
Even better so is that you can reassign software licenses. In the past you had to purchase a new license if your computer got stolen but with the new licensing scheme you may use your subscription license on your new computer as long as you revoke it from your old computer. This is done through a web portal and you don’t need access to the old computer.
Keeping backups is an incredibly important thing to do and even more so as your business grows.
The simplest way to make backups is to frequently copy your important information to another storage device such as an external hard drive, memory stick or network storage device. This isn’t fool proof but if you are able to remember what data isn’t backed up yet and never forget to do the backup then it is probably fine.
Probably the easiest way to backup your data these days is with cloud storage such as OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive or other similar services. For these to work all you need to do is copy or save your files into a designated folder then their sync application will automatically copy the new or updated files to your cloud storage. It will also sync your data to your other devices where the application is installed.
Other backup options may include a combination of external storage devices with backup software running on a schedule or even cloud backup solutions, which will require a serious internet connection.
The bottom line is, if you don’t make backups you run a big risk of major data loss should your computer’s hard drive fail. Trust me when I say that it’s not a matter of if but when.
Last but not least is a good reliable internet connection. If you do not have an internet connection you may write all the emails you want but they will never reach anyone. Nowadays we even use the internet for our business phones.
There are plenty of options available to choose from when deciding what internet connection you need. We have not so trusty ADSL, Wireless, LTE, Fibre, Business fibre, Diginet, Satellite. The most popular these days are Wireless, LTE and Fibre. Which one you choose will depend on your budget, location and availability of any or all of these services.