For any small business, choosing the right technology at the onset can mean either success or failure. As you look to buy equipment, it is imperative that all equipment (personal computer, phone, fax, personal digital assistant, etc.) work well together.
If all of this equipment is not properly synchronized, you will end up spending time unnecessarily duplicating many of the routine functions, which will lead to inefficiency in the workplace and potential business failure.
The following are some of the technology related items you should consider:
Competition - If you do not have a website but your competitors do, it is a matter of time before you start losing business to them. The website also gives your company a unique identity.
Impression - your website will be your first chance to create a lasting impression with your customers. A website that shows that you are dedicated to your business and that your customer is important will go far in building a long term relationship with the customer.
Choose hardware such as computers, servers, external hard drives, etc. The computers you buy should have adequate storage and processing capabilities, and should accommodate accounting, financial and business transactions and records.
Research, choose and register your domain name - your domain name is your internet address such as www.turnkeyknowledge.org. If the domain name you want is available, make sure you register it. In addition to setting up a domain name, you should also choose an e-mail hosting service.
Advertising - having a good website is a relatively inexpensive way of advertising. It allows you to offer information on a range of your products / services that is difficult to do with other forms of advertising such as magazines, newspapers, etc. The website will also allow you to send e-mails on a regular interval to your existing and prospective customers informing them of special offers, etc. With a website, changing products, prices, etc. can be done very quickly.
Choose the software - you will require software that will maintain your accounting / financial records, create spreadsheets, prepare presentations, and most importantly protect sensitive data. It is important that you back up all of your data at least once a day. There are many third-party providers (Microsoft, Google, etc.) that offer cloud-based solutions, which can give your business extensive storage capabilities, allow you to access your company’s data easily, and provide you a cost-effective solution to storing your data securely.
Become a member in your local chamber of commerce and see how other businesses are managing their IT infrastructure. If you are seeking an IT expert, referrals are one of the best ways to find someone.
Conduct due diligence on potential I.T. providers by looking at how long the company has been in existence, testimonials, the website, etc. Asking for references can also be a good way to determine whether this provider is right for you - don't be afraid to contact their references as this is a great way of getting an independent opinion on the firm you are looking to hire.
Price should not be the sole factor. First, find out what the company can do for you and what their capabilities are. It may be better to invest more heavily in this area if you know you will receive great service, knowledgeable experts, and top-tier technological infrastructure that will scale with your business.