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Technology For New Businesses: The First Steps To Take

Tue, 02/09/2016 - 12:15 -- Kayla Smith

If you have been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug recently and you decided to start your own business, you might be feeling overwhelmed. You have had to make tons of big decisions lately and if this is your first time starting a business, you are treading in unknown waters. Many of the decisions you must make will directly relate to technology. In today’s marketplace, you must operate your business as efficiently as possible and the best way to do that is by investing in the right technology from the very beginning.

A new business is a fresh slate and while technology may be one of the biggest investments you make, you should know that it is crucial to your future success. Whether you are starting a sole proprietorship or you are planning on becoming a large corporation, you will want to start out on the right foot by purchasing the best technology solutions for your particular needs.

To do this, you will need to think about these 4 key areas: email, hardware, network, and software. 

Email

There are a couple of different ways to go about getting an email service for your company. First, you can use a hosted email service such as Office 365 or Gmail. It is relatively easy to set up accounts for yourself and for your employees on those sites. These don’t have to end in @gmail, either. You can pay for personalized email accounts that end in @yourcompany, as long as you have purchased the domain. However, hosted email services can easily go down so if your business depends on communicating via email, you may want to go another route.

Your other option is to have an IT company (like catmandu!) set up your very own email server. For this you will need your own server - which we can help you select based on your needs. In-house email servers are often a better option for businesses and organizations that need stronger security such as lawyers and medical facilities (who are regulated by HIPAA).

Hardware

Now it’s time to think about what pieces of hardware that you will need such as servers, computers, tablets, mobile phones, etc. More than likely, you already have one computer. If you own a retail store or any other brick and mortar business, you will want to have all of your hardware in place before your website goes live or your doors open. You wouldn’t want to seem unprepared for your first customers.

Depending on your business, many of your employees will need a workstation, or a computer. We can work with you to find out what kind of system you need. If your employees will be running memory-sucking software such as AutoCAD, you need something a bit heftier than you would if your employees were just running point of sale software.

Speaking of point of sale, you might need to buy a POS machine in order to receive credit and debit card transactions. However, it is vitally important to know that in order to receive card transactions you need to become PCI compliant (you can read more about that here). If you don’t follow the proper precautions, your business could be fined thousands of dollars. You will be out of business before you start. 

You will also want to purchase a telephone system. While we don’t perform that kind of work at catmandu, we can direct you to someone that does.

Next, you need a server if you are a business that will be storing either massive amounts of data or extremely private data (again, a medical facility). When you have a server, you will be able to have a network with one centralized location where all employees can store and obtain data. You will need to work with a knowledgeable IT company when selecting a server.

Network

Once you have your workstations and your server, you can finally get your network set up. Having a network has some clear benefits. While there are different types of networks, for this blog we will focus on client-server networks. With a client server network, the workstations (computers) will send requests to the server and the server will process those requests. This means that all of your employees will have access to the shared resources that are located on the server, rather than having to go from computer to computer to obtain files. A client-server network allows for strong security, easy backup and recovery, scalability, and easy collaboration. You can read more about client-server networks here.

At catmandu, we are experts in deploying new networks. In fact, it’s our specialty. If you decide that you don’t need a client-server network, we can help you set up a simpler network such as a peer-to-peer network. A network can be as simple or as complicated as your business requires it to be and we can do it all.

Software

You will need to purchase or buy a subscription to a few different types of software, depending on your needs. First, you will need some sort of program to manage your customers. Almost every industry has industry-standard software programs that most people use. Whether you’re a car salesman or a dentist, there is probably a particular software suite that is specifically designed for your type of business. You will probably need some sort of word processor like Office 365. If you plan on doing your own financials you will need accounting software such as Quickbooks. At catmandu, we just recently started using a messaging app called Slack in order to communicate quickly between employees.

In the past, you had to buy most of these programs in a shrink-wrapped box. Not anymore. Most software packages are now likely to be available as software-as-a-service (SAAS). This means that you pay a monthly fee to use the software, rather than by it outright. You can read about the benefits of SAAS here.

While we don’t sell usually software at catmandu, we have worked with many, many different types of businesses so we probably know what the standard is for your industry. Often, we call software companies on behalf of our clients when they are suffering from issues so we know the ins and outs of many different types of software.

The last piece of software that you must have is data backup. We could go on and on about the importance of backing up your data but we’ve done that many times before. Basically, there is no excuse to lose important data when there are so many options for backing it up. We recommend investing in Carbonite, a cloud backup service, to secure your data. You can’t afford not to. We are resellers of Carbonite so if you would like to learn more please let us know.

It is a great time to start a new business and we would love to be there with you every step of the way. If you need some direction and advice on your business technology, please contact us using the form to the right. 

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