So, You've started your business, maybe you've got your venture funding, and now its time to start the real work, but what do you need to get up and running efficiently? This list contains the 5 most vital things you need to get your technology working for you, and your business up and running in a digital age.
Many companies will try to sell you every tool under the sun to get you up and running, but here we're focusing on the essentials you'd need to grow and develop. Some businesses may need some more, but this is a good foundation to build and grow from.
1. High-Speed Internet
Slow internet is the killer of productivity - often worse than no internet at all! While Fibre connections in rural areas can be expensive, they are essential if you need to get any significant amount of work done. There may be grants or assistance available if you can't currently get a good connection in your area, so do some research to find a good deal.
If you run an online business, this is all the more essential, as without a good internet connection your service suffers, it takes longer to get work done, and you end up with nothing but frustration! Be sure to get a good quality fibre connection on a business contract, preferably with a reliable service and support agreement!
2. Local IT Consultant or MSP
By far one of the best investments you can make, is to have an IT consultant or MSP that you can trust, can learn how your business works from the inside out, and help you choose the best IT strategy for you.
Many business owners think that they can get by themselves, and muddle along with half-broken systems limping along. This inevitably leads to loss of productivity and becomes a time-sink to the business. The best way to think of IT is similar to a Solicitor or Accountant - You wouldn't make up employment contracts, or "have a go" at filing your taxes, why do the same with your IT?
IT+X provides IT support, services and MSP plans throughout Wales, and we aim to advise you on the best way forward by addressing business needs directly - We don't sell extra systems for the sake of it.
Selecting the best of the best technology for the job doesn't solve your IT problems, however, its important to ensure you use best practices, known-good configurations and take into account the changing landscape of IT systems. Our services include periodic reviews to ensure you're getting the most from your IT, and you're meeting your business goals.
This is the core of your IT, the thing you sit at and work from. These days, traditional desktop computers are becoming less and less relevant, with more companies using laptops, smartphones or BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Especially through lockdown - the portability and ease of working on a laptop from home allowed many companies to get ahead of the game when transitioning to remote work, a significant competitive advantage.
A common mistake of small businesses, especially family-run businesses, is purchasing computers based solely on budget, opting for the cheapest, sometimes used PCs (We've personally seen a Compaq Presario in daily use!). While this can be a budget efficient way to get by, in the long run, it's a false economy.
A study commissioned by Microsoft found that using a modern PC vs a 4-year-old PC saves up to £1500 per year per PC, in productivity gains alone. A good quality, business-grade PC can be had for around £600, so you could pay for a new PC just in productivity gains.
Many small businesses and sole-traders use Gmail, Hotmail, or similar free email services. This looks very unprofessional, and it's straightforward to get set up with an email at your domain. Additionally, regulated industries need systems in place to archive their email for regulatory and compliance reasons, which the likes of Gmail can't provide. This often ties in with the next item, which is:
5. Cloud Computing and Services
Traditionally, you would need to invest several thousand pounds in servers and server software to tie all of your systems together, but these days that's no longer required. The best example of this is Microsoft 365 - the cloud model allows you to access software and systems that improve productivity with no upfront costs. This model also makes it very simple to grow your business. You could quadruple your number of employees overnight, and have your IT systems grow to match in just a few minutes.