Every freelancer and small business owner has used a coffee shop, gym, airport terminal, restaurant or even a filling station as a mobile office at least once along the way. Free wi-fi is hard to pass up and it’s good to get out of the home office now and again. But as the company grows and more employees join the team, the operation will need a more permanent and secure internet connection.
Thanks to an ever-increasing range of connectivity options, an entrepreneur installing business internet for the first time is faced with a more confusing task than ever before.
A good internet service provider should be able to assess your business profile and make recommendations, but no one knows your business better than you so the buck ultimately stops at your door.
Five Questions to Ask
To identify the best solution for your business, rather than the best deal from the service provider, there are the five questions to ask before plugging in:
1. Where am I located?
Not all connectivity options are available in all places. For instance, fibre is still only available in more densely populated urban centres. Some wireless technologies may not be reliable in outlying areas.
2. Do I need a dedicated service?
This should be determined by the nature of your business –not necessarily the number of staff that need to be online. A small software or production company may need dedicated fibre, while an accounting firm of the same size could get away with an ADSL Broadband service. These and all the options in between are costed accordingly.
3. What applications am I running?
A construction company might be happy running basic office, accounting and inventory programmes that play a supporting role in the business, as the physical building materials are the means of production. However, a digital agency with the same revenue and number of people might use more advanced software as the centre of the business. Understanding the connectivity, data and storage demands of your most-used applications will help you make the best choice.
4. Am I running applications from the cloud or locally?
Subscription-based software from companies like Microsoft and Adobe mean that some companies never see a software installation disc – running software via the cloud requires bandwidth. High data-volume businesses who are considering cloud storage services must factor accessing their information into their bandwidth needs – in terms of volume and reliability.
5. Do guests need access to my network?
Depending on the nature of your business, you might need to allow guests onto your network. These might be partners, clients, co-tenants, employees accessing the network remotely, or even employees’ personal devices on premises. Don’t forget that this has connectivity and security implications so clear boundaries need to be determined from the onset, with different login profiles for each user type.
Finally, plan for business growth.
Select a connectivity solution from a provider that can scale their service as your business expands, and that offers a flexible contract so that you can switch services rapidly.