In today’s cut-throat economy, startup businesses need to hit the ground running when it comes to technology and operations, especially in highly competitive markets. The proper implementation of IT can mean the difference between success and failure for startups, so it is important to realize the essential IT requirements that will empower any business to survive those first, crucial steps towards success.
Meeting these requirements might seem daunting at first, especially given the limited budget of many startup businesses. However, fitting your startup with a baseline IT function is easier than it's ever been and may be less complex than you'd expect. In fact, we only need to cover two categories—that's right, only two! That's all you need to get things rolling, so let's dive in!
Software and Hardware
I wasn't sure if I needed to mention this, but why not. Firstly, everyone in your company needs to have a computing device. Laptops are the norm, but desktops or even tablets for light-duty tasks will do. Think of it this way: a full desktop/laptop is needed for heavy duty creation whereas a tablet will get the job done for simple tasks and consumption.
Depending on the nature of your startup business, software will play a different role in its day-to-day operations. For example, the software needs of a startup flower shop will be much different than that of an accounting firm. However, virtually every modern business will require some “essential” software across the board to function, such as:
- Office productivity (word processing, spreadsheets and other documents)
- Email and Messaging
- Accounting and Financial
Beyond these bare minimums, there are numerous other software programs that a startup might require, such as CRM, creative, marketing or collaboration software. It’s also important to consider the process of licensing, implementing and maintaining your software.
Subscription-based solutions are the fastest and easiest to start with because they are delivered on-demand across all your platforms either as a cloud web app or even as a managed download to install directly on your device. Adobe's Creative Suite and the upper editions of Office 365 offer local device installation.
Moreover, many subscription and cloud applications offer integrated shared cloud storage for you to store and share your files, such as Microsoft SkyDrive. Dropbox and Google Drive are also noteworthy cloud storage solutions that work with any document file types. In short, you need either virtual, cloud “hardware” or real hardware.
Nowadays, it's almost never attractive for small startup businesses to invest in new hardware unless the business model requires it. More advanced startup businesses might actually need some on-premise server, storage and networking hardware. And if you go that route, you're definitely going to need to partner with an IT solutions company unless you already have a resident IT expert. A company like UTG will advise you as to the best path and support you in any scenario as you grow—fully cloud, partially cloud or no cloud at all. There is no “right” choice, there is no “wrong” choice, there's only the choice that's right for you.
Voice and Data Communications
What's a business if you can't communicate with your customers, partners and vendors? For many small startups simply using cell phone and shared broadband Internet will do. But once you start growing there will be a need for more advanced phone features, like an automated attendant, call routing, call transferring and integrated voicemail.
Next, you'll need to evaluate voice and long distance plans. You're probably not shocked to hear that once again, you have the choice of both cloud and on-premise solutions to choose from for your communications needs. And just like your software and hardware choices, you can get started more rapidly and cost effectively with cloud telephony and communication services than with traditional on-premise solutions.
Whether you need a simple Unified Communications solution or a complex integrated carrier data network, UTG has the right relationships to narrow down the dizzying array of choices into just a few that fit your business needs and budget.
UTG is here to help you tie it all together
With years of experience designing and implementing IT solutions for clients, UTG can help by designing and implementing the most cost-effective solution for your startup business, allowing you to reserve more capital for business growth. Whether you need individual cloud applications, business backup or a whole a private network, UTG will work with you to create the perfect solution for your startup!
Brian Miller is the President of UTG, one of Atlanta and Augusta’s fastest-growing Managed Services and Cloud Providers. At UTG, we help our partners navigate the sometimes confusing terrain of Cloud computing as it relates to their business goals, across Georgia and beyond. If you need help, we’re only a click away at utgsolutions.com or you can follow us on Twitter @utgsolutions.