The Proper IT Foundation for a Start-Up Business
Article By: Rich Silva – Founder – Pain Point IT Solutions, Inc.
If you're considering taking the leap of faith from your corporate job to start your own business, or have just started up, congratulations and welcome to the club. If you are reading this, you are obviously someone who seeks out advice and ideas via the web from others who have done it before you for guidance. There are contrasting success and failure stories out there, people who say you need to do this, and not that; and vice versa. I know, I was there early last year. One of the topics I rarely saw in a clear concise way was how to properly integrate and prepare your business plan for business continutity and disaster before day T (which is your official start date). I was fortunate to already know this because this is what I do. If you are not Information Technology savvy, this list is for you; so please share.
Day T - 60
Evaluating and Ordering Internet Service
While you are finalizing your business plan, and checking it twice, sifting through the registration and tax forms to do business in your state, and scratching your head, if you are planning to have office space, put aside some time to evaluate your local internet service provider (ISP) offerings and learn whether they already have presence in the building. Many of the ISP's offer on-line tools to do this, and the buildings property manager who you should become pals with should be able to offer guidance as well. Many ISP's offer bundled services that contain telephone and television, along with internet services under 1 or 2 year contract commitments. You might be tempted to tell them you don't need phone and TV, but typically they will jack up the price of your internet access either right from the start, or in 1 year if you push for this. So generally speaking, take the bundle but now is when you want to be dealing with this, not at Day T-30.
Determining and Taking Action on Your Voice Communications Needs
Now is when you should start to visualize what voice communications the business will need. Is a basic telephone all you need ? Do you want a phone system, and if so will you have space for it ? Will you exclusively do business on your mobile phones ? If so, do you have a strong signal in the office space ? Once you have the answers to these questions, then comes the agony and confusion of making the right choice after doing a search on-line for "office phone systems". To be ready for day T, make this decision now. If you decide on a phone system for the office, there will be other telecommunications lines that need to be ordered. If you decide on the off-site flexibility of a cloud based phone system (for people who telecommute or are always on-the-run), there will be data network devices and ISP bandwidth considerations. If you decide regular phone lines are the way to go, you will need someone to run the lines to the desks and you will need to purchase phones. If going all mobile, then don't get caught having to walk outside to use the phone because the signal is weak inside.
Data Storage Plan
Now is when you will want to think about how everyone in the office will share data. Will you just subscribe to a cloud data drive service ? If that makes you uneasy, will you have a common server or computer inside the office that you and your employees will use to share files ? If you plan to be out and about a lot, do you anticipate needing to access that data, or your computer from your mobile device on the road ? These are all questions you should be asking yourself now.
Day T - 45
Things are really starting to come together. You assume you have all the proper paperwork done, insurance signed up for, and you're ready to start going. From an IT perspective, here is what you should be considering now.
Data Backup and Recovery Plan
It's likely you will have computers in the office. Some of you may even want to have a server in the office to either share files or applications on. What will you do to back this data up ? Are you going to subscribe to an off-site cloud based back up system ? What will you do to recover this data, or these servers ? It takes a long time, sometimes days or weeks to recover a failed server and to restore the files from the cloud. Is that in line with your business plan ? Are you considering outsourcing to a company that can watch and maintain your data backups and put systems in place to recover your mission critical servers as quickly as possible, or are you disciplined enough to purchase an external drive at your local big box store and watch it every day to make sure it is working ? Now is the time to decide whether you will be reactive to a disaster, or pro-active and ready for one.
Discussing Your IT Plan with a Local IT Consultant
By now you should have your internet service on-order, made a decision or have meaningful questions about how you will store, back up and recover your data if disaster strikes and at least an idea on how your voice communications will be set up. Now is the time to do a search for a local IT consultant in your area to provide you with guidance. Ask the landlord for some recommendations. Do not look up "Computer Repair" on a google search, call around to the top 5 and learn that all they do is fix computers. Find a well-versed IT consultant with experience building business networks, has practical experience in voice communications, and has a client base to prove it. Some will charge for the consultation, some will not; or offer to waive the consultation if you elect to use them for project work or managed services. This is a crucial, proactive thing to do for your business and the advice you get from them/us will give you peace of mind, a clear understanding of how others are "doing it", and cut through much of the bad the advice you will find people posting on forums out there on the web.
My Final Thought
There is a lot of information out there on the web. Some good, some that makes me cringe. Starting a business is a crazy time in your life and a proverbial money pit as things you didn't anticipate needing to do to survive or start a business keep getting thrown in your lap. Every hat that gets thrown in the air lands on your head. I've seen too many businesses at the T + 1 month time frame stuggling to get their data network and voice communications stuff in order. I've also seen many at the T + 1 or 2 year time in their maturity not have a proper data recovery plan in place that is in line with their expectations on how long they can tolerate being out of business. I hope this guide helped those of you looking to start up with questions to start asking yourselves and when you should be asking them. Best of luck. Go for it!
If you want to learn more about what a sound data recovery business plan looks like, click on the Take Action Now! button anywhere on our website, leave me your contact information and I'll call you back.