If you’re thinking about starting a business (congratulations!!), then technology might be the very last consideration on your mind. With a long list of tasks in front of you (like getting a logo and stationery designed, finding an office, and working out your marketing plan), you may just requisition your home computer to start running your new business. Let’s look at some of your very first technology decisions.
New computer or your home PC? – For a while, your home computer may be adequate to handle the necessities of your business. However, if your computer time is conflicting with the children’s need to surf the internet for their homework, it may be time to consider a dedicated business computer. Study any system specifications carefully and check the manufacturer’s websites. Many ‘cheap’ retail deals are superseded models, cannot be upgraded easily or may not connect to a bigger computer network, which will all be important as you grow. Also, talk to your accountant about any tax benefits that may be gained from leasing instead of purchasing your IT assets.
Voice over IP – When considering a phone number for your business, take a look at your Voice over IP options. The quality of this technology has improved significantly and it can provide great local, national and international phone rates. Today’s systems can plug into a standard cordless phone and your internet connection, so your computer doesn’t have to be turned on for you to make and receive calls. It makes a fantastic ‘second line’ for businesses that run from your home. You can have your office phone answered outside of business hours and still receive personal calls on your standard home phone line.
Internet domain name – Once you have decided on your business name, look at registering your internet domain name. This will prevent someone else from registering it. Having your own domain name (like marysmith.com) will give your emails a more professional look and enable you to have a simple webpage established. Don’t think you have to spend a fortune on a comprehensive website before your first day of actually doing business. As long as your contact details (phone number, email address, fax number, and location) are easy to find and you have some great information about why your business is different from your competitors, you will be giving the search engines something to find. This is much better than an ‘under construction’ picture or no internet presence at all. Use your domain name in your email address to look much more credible than someone operating from a free email account (like firstname.lastname@example.org). You can still use your internet provider for your email service. Make certain to check what protection they have in place against email viruses and spam. Remember to include your website and email address on all of your stationery and marketing materials.
Email marketing – Investing in an email marketing program provides you with a great communication channel to keep your business in front of your future customers on a regular basis. Supplement your email marketing with monthly newsletters and occasional special offers. Get permission to store your customer’s email address from the day they start doing business with you and you’ll build up an impressive database.
Talk to your local Computer Troubleshooters about how to make the right technology decisions that match the needs of your new business.