MonkeyPuzzle Computers: Ilminster, Somerset

Canny IT for a New Business

This article is a response to another article I read recently. The article was entitled ‘Top 10 Internet Products for Starting a New Business’ and can be found here.

I want to use the article as a basis for my own recommendations borne out of experience, so apologies to Alan Gleeson if I appear to pull it apart a little. The majority is sound and offers some good advice to avoid common pitfalls.

It’s that simple.
But go for less, well designed content rather than try and impress with lots of poor content.

Industry Profiles
Not sure I would download industry profiles. Surely better to go out and do rather than sit at home and engage in this level of planning.

Accounts Package
Absolutley - a good accounts package is a must. I would recommend Brightpearl as a solution - it is web-based, stored securely online and includes a CRM solution to keep track of your customers. Best of all it is based on a monthly subscription so it becomes operating expenditure rather capital outlay.

Business Plan
Whilst a business plan is good and acts as a compass for keeping your business on track, there is plenty of free guidance available rather than spend money on this at the outset. However you do need a plan as it’s too easy to drift along just doing stuff rather than heading for a goal.

Now to the recommendation that you should save money and use Skype for business communication. I’m afraid I would disagree. Skype call quality is too variable especially if you only have one broadband connection - when it is being used for data transfer, call quality drops. People are going to inevitably draw conclusions about your business if your calls keep dropping off. Stick to traditional landlines or good quality VOIP telephony.

Computer Protection
Free anti-virus sounds good, especially at the outset of your business. Aside from the fact that most free security tools explicitly state they are not to be used for commercial purposes, you get what you pay for in this case. Spend £40 on Internet Security software and get better protection - it will cost you so much more when your PC has to be repaired and is out of action for a couple of days.

External hard drive backup is a good method with two provisos; firstly that the backup is taken off site, and secondly that it actually gets done in the first place. Online backup is another option that is automatic and stored securely off site. We recommend Perfect Backup, who are reliable and transparent on price. We have found that online backup is a much safer option as it doesn’t get forgotten.

Google for Advertising
Google Adwords can work a treat, but pay for someone who knows what they’re doing to run your campaign. It’s easy to spend a lot of money for no return if you run an Adwords campaign badly.

Instant Messaging
We use this for quick communication between colleagues rather than with clients. It’s very effective for getting a quick reply while someone is otherwise engaged, for example on the phone.

Online Fax Account
Fax is dead.

Online Word Processing
This works very well. When you think about it, the majority of us use Office type applications for very simple tasks and any word processing program would suffice, for example, GoogleDocs or Open Office. The big drawback with these is compatibility with Microsoft Office. While they work quite well in this regard, if you are exchanging documents with others, there is no doubt Microsoft Office is the best choice.

In summary, starting a business does not need to involve vast sums in capital outlay. There are some very powerful tools available that put even micro-businesses on a level playing field with much larger business concerns. It does take a little bit of research and free is not always best, but anything that helps reduce costs and maintain cashflow will contribute to ensuring a startup business’ success.  

Added By: Phil Wright on 06th Apr 2011 - 09:39
Last Updated: 06th Apr 2011 - 09:47

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