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If you want to start a business, you’re probably thinking about the great products or services you have to offer, how much they’ll help customers, and your revenue potential. Further down the list might be business support functions such as finance, marketing, administration, logistics, and HR.
IT might not be on your radar at all. But guess what? In our digitally-driven world, all the other functions of your new business will depend heavily on IT.
Therefore, you should start now to think about how you’re going to manage this foundational part of your business. Options include doing it yourself if your business is very small, hiring a team of in-house IT specialists, or taking advantage of convenient and cost-effective outsourcing of IT. No matter which option you choose, you’ll need to consider your needs regarding the following solutions.
Many IT infrastructure types are available. You could maintain all your hardware and software on-premise, typically a good choice if your business is small and simple. Another option is to have your systems hosted by a third party, an option that frees you of maintenance responsibilities. You could also pick a cloud solution in which your work is done using hosted software solutions.
It’s likely that you’ll be selecting some combination of these options for various functions but, in order to make the best decisions, you should explore the benefits and challenges of each one. For example, you have less control over hardware or software that is hosted by an external resource.
There’s no question that you need to be able to communicate effectively with customers, prospects, vendors, and employees. But you’ll need to think about how you do so. You should take things like call frequency, volume, location, and need for mobility into consideration.
For example, do you get enough calls that you need an automated answering function? Are many of your calls to overseas locations?
Communication plans can include a variety of features and some of them will meet your needs better than others. Depending on your provider, some plans will come with these features while others will need to be part of a custom plan. The key is to have some idea of how your new business is likely to function and determine a strategy that will serve your needs now and grow with you later.
One of the advantages of a hosted IT infrastructure, as mentioned above, is the security component. Some types of businesses require stricter security for their data than others. If your business is one of those, you might consider a hosted solution to ensure greater protection from hackers and natural disasters.
Often these providers position their hardware in highly secure facilities and are experts in preventing physical and electronic intrusion.
You can also manage security in-house, either on your own, via your IT department, or via a hired service. The key here is to anticipate likely threats to your IT systems and be proactive about preventing them.
Disaster Recovery Management
Unfortunately, part of starting a business is thinking about worst-case scenarios. What if your manufacturing facility goes without electricity for a week? What if your revenues drop? What if — even after all your best efforts — your data is compromised?
Business continuity is the practice of ensuring your business can continue operating in all these cases and more.
Disaster recovery is the plan you put in place for these types of events. It can include a variety of actions, such as restoring backed-up copies of your files, transferring phone lines to employees’ smartphones, or switching manufacturing to a different location. The IT component of disaster recovery includes making sure your data remains safe following such an event.
Data Center Management
If your business is largely data-driven, you should consider working with a data management center. This option can help reduce costs by eliminating the need to repeatedly spend money to update your hardware and software. It can also serve as a cost-effective way to scale your business up or down, depending on your needs at any given time.
Look for a reputable data center that’s available to manage system errors and problems any time they might occur. Ideally, such a service should offer a 99.99% uptime.
Both physical and digital security should be state-of-the-art with 24/7 monitoring. A good provider should also be able to understand your current and likely future needs and offer a fitting package.
Starting a business is more complex than it may first appear. In addition to delivering your products or services, you need to think about who you will deliver them to, how those people will find you, and how you’ll let them know you’re available. Even the smallest business must support these activities with finance, marketing, administration, logistics, and HR functions.
Given that all these departments need technology to function, new business owners must consider critical IT solutions — including infrastructure, security, and data management — upfront.