What IT Services are Needed To Start A Business?

What IT Services are Needed To Start A Business?

This is a fundamental question asked by companies or individuals when they first get started on a new venture. We are here to help guide you through the process and discuss and evaluate the options. So, your company can right from the start, thrive and have as few IT problems as possible.

For the purpose of this post, we’re going to assume that this business will have at least 3 employees and will manage sensitive private client information.

The simple approach is to view an IT service as your complete IT department. For that, you need a Managed Service Provider. With that type of IT service, you get all the functionality and benefits of an entire IT department. Including Management, which is very important.

Selenium Technology Partners is one of the most respected IT service providers in Toronto and the GTA for over 22 years. They also have IT Services across various locations in Ontario, as well as Clients in Dallas, Chicago, and Kansas City. You want a provider that has a vast amount of experience with a wide variety of clients and locations.

Get the right technology from the start

How do you make starting a new business easy with technology?

A proactive approach to information technology (IT) solutions and services are to understand your business model through the IT Service Company’s experience with technology. They evaluate what technology can get you started, and what you will need to keep growing your business.

Regardless of which IT vendor you’ll choose, there are a number of technology services and hardware you’ll need to look at. Here is a short-form overview of the items.

  1. Secure Email Services (Microsoft 365, GMAIL, or A Hosted Exchange). Lots of options in this space. A Hosted Exchange like Selenium’s offers a flexible service with a granular support service.
  2. Secure public cloud data storage (Amazon, Dropbox, OneDrive). This is always a risk. Depending on the confidentiality of the data, it might be sufficient. Private cloud data storage is more desirable if it’s within your budget. Security in a private cloud is typically much higher and easier to maintain. Cloud Services have a one-size fits all mentality.
  3. A firewall. Preferably a high-end UTM firewall. If you’re spending less than $500 for your firewall, it’s probably not going to protect you as much as you think. We like WatchGuard, specifically the T20 model.
  4. Desktop Hardware. You will be better off getting at least 16 GB of RAM. A 1TB SSD drive or M2. drive and a 6 Core CPU. If you need more analytical firepower, get an 8 Core CPU, and 32 GB RAM. Don’t spend more than $2,500. For the typical user, that’s going to be overkill.
  5. Laptop Hardware. If you’re bent out of shape wanting a laptop instead of a desktop. It’s going to be expensive. Can be as high as 50% more than a desktop. Keep that in mind. Make sure you get a minimum of 16 GB of RAM in any case.
  6. MAC versus PC. In our opinion, MACs are perfect if you’re only doing online work and using MAC software and hardware. Anytime you have to deal with at least one non-MAC system – leave the MAC at home with the rest of your toys, don’t bring it into the office. MACs and PC systems don’t always play well together. MACs are ridiculously expensive, so keep that in mind too. We love our MACs, but they’re not well suited for most enterprises.
  7. Backup Plan. You need one. Have at least two running copies of all your data. In separate locations. One disconnected from all networks, the internet, and your computer. Use an encrypted external USB drive or NAS device. They’re not too expensive and will help protect and encrypt your data.
  8. Virus Software. Always choose the high-end on this piece of software. Never use free stuff. There are four vendors that really stand out. Ask us what might work best for your situation. We like Sophos, Kaspersky, Check Point, or Webroot. The free one from Microsoft is actually not that bad, but don’t rely on it entirely.
  9. Mobile phone. Android or Apple, doesn’t matter. Choose your poison. Just make sure you get virus software for your phone. We like Sophos Mobile.
  10. MFA. Multi-factor authentication. Use it on email, and your computers. We like DUO. It’s not foolproof as some IT Services will tell you but it does add a secondary level of protection.
  11. A password manager. Use one. Never write down your passwords. Lots of options to choose from on this one. Dashlane is a good choice.
  12. File Transfer / File sharing. There are a few trusted vendors for this. Just keep in mind, don’t leave confidential files on cloud systems if you can avoid them. Trust the big boys on this. Microsoft 365 (OneDrive) or Google Drive.
  13. Audit and Support. Have an IT person you trust or a managed service provider (MSP) oversee everything on a regular basis. It’s worth having someone manage your systems for vulnerabilities, patching, and security updates.
  14. Insurance. Get cybersecurity insurance. They will require a lot of conditions but as an IT Service Provider, we can assist with the entire process.
  15. Consultation. Arrange to have a consultation with Selenium on overviewing everything you need. It can be well worth the cost. Selenium provides a two-hour free consultation. It’s well worth it to get your business off to the best start with the right setup.
For a Startup Business – ask the right IT questions

What questions should you ask your IT service provider when starting your business?

Protect your interests and protect your startup business. It’s critical you choose the right IT service, so here are ten questions you can ask your potential IT service.

  1. Where will my data be stored and what procedures and policies are in place to manage the security, access, and fault tolerance of my client information?
  2. How often does the IT service audit its own procedures, and do they have a fully transparent service offering? You don’t want to find out that your provider uses a public cloud to store your data.
  3. How does the IT service monitor the network, and firewalls, and manage cybersecurity threats? Does it perform regular penetration testing and vulnerability testing of all your company assets and its own?  That’s very important too as both networks are typically connected.
  4. How will you monitor all the computer assets in my company? What third-party tools do you use and how have they been screened and vetted? There have been huge breaches related to these providers in this space (Orion, Kaseya), so how you do manage security around them?
  5. Where do you purchase all your hardware and software from? Will you provide purchasing and acquisitions services for my new company? Procurement can save you a lot of hassles.
  6. Will you manage all my IT vendors that will be required by the business, so when I have issues, you can manage the support requests on the business’s behalf?
  7. When will regular maintenance be performed on the company’s services so that I know when they may or may not be available? What maintenance schedules do you keep?
  8. What type of encryption and multifactor authentication methods does your IT service use?
  9. What does your after-hours support model look like? Does it cost extra to contact support after 6 PM? Is there a cost to have a 24 / 7 support service when required or when it’s out of the ordinary? The right IT Service will be flexible at no added cost.
  10. How often do you provide strategy updates to the business, and do you provide quarterly update meetings to discuss ongoing IT issues or upgrades/updates that should be discussed within the business?
Budgets for business startup for technology
Budgets are an important factor for a startup business

What IT Budget Considerations Are There For A New Business

The first rule of thumb is to budget according to your necessities. You don’t want to overspend, but at the same time, you don’t want to underspend either. The latter can be a bigger problem than the former.

Your IT budget should correlate with your business goals

This comes down to making sure that you acquire and set up all your IT services based on what you need, making sure that the technology matches your requirements. You can always upgrade to better technology that costs more when your business is ready to manage that change in cost.

This needs to be completed without compromising security. There is a variety of costs for every solution. You don’t need the most expensive ones to meet your goals.

Results-driven spending is a priority

Assess what you need the technology to do and what function it needs to perform. Your IT Service provider should be able to give you a lot of options in technology that will perform the right role. Business owners tend to focus on the equipment and not the results.

Giving the end result as the strategy for acquiring the right technology will go a long way to managing your costs and support fees.

Everyone in your business will use technology so ask them what they need

It’s best to get a write-up of everyone’s opinion in the business on what they need upfront. Adding technology after the fact or changing it mid-stream can be costly and unproductive.

If you assess the technology and how it needs to work for everyone in the business, acquiring the right technology will better utilize your resources and functionality in the end.

Routine budget reviews are important

Budgets with IT are not like other budgets in that they need to be somewhat flexible and adaptive. You need to take stock of your IT budget regularly and manage monthly costs. Although some IT services and equipment have set costs, when it comes to IT, specifically for security, your costs can change.

Take note when you start your business after a 30 to 60-day term, whether you overspent or underspent on technology. You need to assess what is working for you and what needs to change. Introducing the right changes with speed can save you a lot of money down the road as well as it can improve your IT strategy overall.

Plan for the unexpected

Set aside part of your budget for unseen and unknown circumstances. With technology constantly changing and issues related to tight initial budgets – it’s oftentimes necessary to increase your budgets on new items that were either missed during startup or are realized after your first 3 months in business.

Being prepared to incorporate new technology or services can result in cost savings and productivity increases that can either increase income for the business or streamline your results.

All Computers Have a Life-Span of Use

Create a life-span for all your technology

Don’t wait for your technology to fail or become unavailable, that can cost you time and time is money. For all your hardware, create reasonable expectations on when that technology needs to be replaced.

Be proactive with maintenance schedules and in some cases stress-test some of your equipment when that makes sense. Another popular idea is to have at least one computer and or mobile smartphone as an extra ready-to-go when you need it.

This helps as well when inventory at distributors is low.

Limit subscription-based services when they can be avoided

Managing your monthly costs can be time-consuming and can add up quickly. IT services and third-party IT services can try and force you to set up monthly subscription-based services. Avoid them where possible. You can often negotiate in some cases to a set cost per year, or one-time free – or simply choose another provider that is willing not to charge you based on a subscription.

The software can be the main issue related to subscriptions. Like for instance Adobe. Adobe charges per month now, you can’t in all situations buy their software outright. In cases such as this, look at the functionality you need and don’t worry about the vendor. Choose services and software that allows you to buy the product outright.

Negotiate utility bills and third-party services after initial contracts have expired

When your IT service sets up your third-party IT services like your phones (VOIP), internet fiber, cloud services, or any other product, negotiate your new contracts. You have a lot of options and power when it comes to vendors where they’re willing to try and keep you as a client.

Always negotiate where it makes sense and where it can save you cost without reducing your service offerings.

Shop around, get at least 2 or 3 recommendations for your IT services

Not all IT service providers are equal. Cost and budgeting are important but you don’t want to get into a situation where your costs are high but the value you’re receiving isn’t meeting your expectations. We have seen some low-ball IT services that try and represent themselves as being competent – but typically the price matches the expertise.

That doesn’t mean you should overspend, analyze what you’re getting verse what you’re paying. Get an IT Service that only hires professionals when it comes to IT staff. Staff should have a minimum of 5 to 8 years of experience. Don’t hire an IT service that outsources IT, or support staff.

If your IT support staff can’t make it into your office within 20 minutes, you can’t expect them to be there when you need them the most.

Hire an IT service that is willing to put security ahead of everything, despite your budget

As part of our standard client service – Selenium Technology Partners like other MSPs can provide a high-level risk assessment, cybersecurity training, phishing testing, and pen testing on a yearly basis, for all our client perimeter firewalls. Find an IT service that meets and exceeds the standard security model in the industry.

It’s really important that you discuss these and other questions with your IT service provider. It’s important your look at your IT budgets accordingly.

Not only to get the most out of the service but to ensure the service they’re offering is going to meet the demands of the business.

Conclusion

Reach out to our expert Service Team to get you started on the right track. There is a lot of information that would be good to know, for your current situation, as well as for down the road.

You need to be careful about your budget, but more importantly, you want the experience of a service provider that is willing to work with you on the right IT equipment and services you need, and which ones you can avoid when you’re first starting up.

It will save you time and money.

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