Starting a new business can be a scary and exciting time. You’ll have tons to do and one of the most important tasks will be building your tech infrastructure. Here’s a look at what most businesses will need to get started, in no particular order:
- Business Email
- Professional Website
- Business Laptop OR PC
- Microsoft Office Subscription
- Centralized Storage Service For Shared Resources
NEVER use your personal email or an @gmail, @yahoo, etc, for business. There are a couple of reasons for this but the most important is that it looks extremely unprofessional to your peers and clients. Emails that match your domain name will help increase brand awareness and keep your messages out of the spam box. Customers feel more comfortable conducting business with firstname.lastname@example.org than email@example.com.
Email plans are not expensive at all, I actually sell plans for up to 5 users here, for less than $5 per month. This is one of the cheapest tech expenses you will have.
The importance of a business having a professional and responsive website cannot be overstated. When consumers are looking for a product or a service they head to their favorite search engine and begin typing. Gone are the days when people drive from mall to mall looking for the products they desire. To be found by potential customers, your business will need to appear in a search engine, ideally on the first page!
You’ll want to ensure your website is unique and attractive while being simple enough for even the most tech averse consumers to navigate. Here’s a couple of items you will want to make sure your professional website has:
- Your Logo
- A contact page AND button
- Fast, lightweight mobile friendly version
- An SSL certificate (more on this a bit later)
The best place for your logo is center stage, where all visitors can see it. For most websites, this puts the logo close to your navigational bar or in the center of your page, above the body of your main content. You’ll want to ensure the logo is visible at all times while visitors are on your page. This will hopefully imprint your brand in their minds and subconsciously associate it with the product or service you provide.
Contact pages need to be easily accessed from anywhere on your page to ensure maximum customer engagement. A good place to put your contact link is near the end of a great description of your products or services. You want the potential customer to get hooked on your awesome content, then immediately reach out to you while the info is still fresh in their minds.
A mobile friendly version of your website will be needed to accommodate the increasing number of people who browse the internet via their cell phones and tablets. You should only include the most important content on your mobile version to make the browsing experience more enjoyable for your visitors. Cell phones don’t have the processing power laptops and tablets do, so they may be bogged down with excessive videos and animations, for example.
An SSL Certificate is a certificate issued by a certificate authority and serves two purposes:
- To secure your visitors data by encrypting all activity taking place on the website (very important for sensitive data like credit card info)
- To prove to your visitors that your site is authentic and safe to use
Even if you aren’t handling sensitive information, having an SSL Certificate can benefit you. Google and other search engines favor secure sites over non-secure ones and rank them accordingly. Also, the lock icon on the left side of your domain will provide visitors with an added sense of security.
Business Laptop Or PC
Most businesses will be using a laptop or PC for their daily operations and yours will be no different. You’ll need a powerful, reliable and affordable computer to support your operational needs.
Make sure your laptop or PC has the following specifications:
- Latest generation CPU (pay attention to cache size, as this impacts performances greatly) – the central processing unit or CPU is computer’s brain and is responsible for taking and executing commands fed to it by the user
- At least 16GB of RAM – random access memory or RAM stores memory generated by applications and programs and you’ll need as much as you can get if you plan on running multiple resource heavy programs
- A solid state drive or a fast hard disk drive of at least 512GB- these drives are the main places data are stored, the more you have the better and a solid state drive or SSD is much faster than a hard disk drive or HDD
Microsoft Office Subscription
Microsoft Office dominates the PC world and it’s productivity suite is second to none. Depending on the number of employees you have, you may want to purchase an Enterprise license.
Most smaller businesses, however, will do just fine with a standard subscription to Microsoft Office 365. With a standard subscription you’ll get Word, Outlook, Powerpoint and the ever useful Excel. Since Microsoft Office 365 is licensed to one person who’s provisioned multiple installations, a single user will never be assigned to a license. This prevents you from buying additional licenses if an employee leaves the company.
Centralized Storage For Shared Resources
The easiest way to share resources like Word documents, presentations and databases is to put them on a server that’s accessible to all relevant users in the organization. Dropbox and Sharepoint are cloud based storage services that allow for collaboration among employees. The best part about cloud storage is that your data is managed and housed offsite. You avoid having to pay for an expensive server and personnel to maintain it.
If you’re looking for a place to store a database, a virtual private server may be a great option. You’ll have a server with memory, RAM and processing power allocated to you alone! The main limiting factor is the amount of space you purchase, which can always be changed as your needs grow.
Business and tech go hand and hand, you can’t have one without the other. The tech for your new or existing business doesn’t have to break the bank. The key to becoming a wise tech consumer is to know exactly what you need to accomplish the goal you are working towards. Technology changes like the weather but the 5 products mentioned above will be on every business’s expense list for many decades to come!