It can be quite the daunting task when you decide to take that calculated (or not so calculated) leap of faith and step in to the start-up world. You have a great idea and some business knowledge which is great until you are hit with dozens of tasks, processes and solutions that you need to figure out and fast. From the legals to the IT, to the office space and much more. Unfortunately, I am not a lawyer, but I do know a thing or two about IT and start-ups so lets waste no time and jump in to 5 IT considerations for your start-up…
1. Endpoint Security
Got a mac like those cool people in the above image? Files in the cloud? Your business is too small to hack? Easy…you are the perfect target. Hacking seems to be so much more common these days, because it is. You might work in an office with a firewall or cautious about what emails you open but the truth is, some nasty piece of malware or intruder will be on your computer or network at some point and you need to be protected.
According to National Cyber Security Alliance, 60 percent of small to medium size business that suffer a breach will go out of business within 6 months…yikes! There are some fantastic solutions out there that aren’t going to break the bank or cost the earth to setup. Look for some of the more advanced solutions in the market and ask for a fair price. Endpoint protection with terms such as ‘artificial intelligence’ or ‘machine learning’ are a good start but that doesn’t mean they are any good. Just do your research starting with the Gartner Magic Quadrant.
Remember the fact about 60 percent of small to medium size business shutting down after a breach? Its kinda same same with this one. Whether you have lost your data due to a hack or accidental deletion, its still gone and all that hard work has left with it. Backup solutions will vary depending on where your data is stored (more on data location soon). So if its in the cloud, its important to understand how data is backed up within those systems (if at all) and the recovery process required to retrieve that data. Consider what data you and your customers need access to and if the provider can meet those requirements. If not, it may be time to look at some options such as third-party cloud backups or upgrading to a higher plan with your provider. The important thing is to find out your current backup and recovery strategy, so you aren’t running around like a headless chicken after Dave deletes that important file by accident. Because its always important right?
3. Collaboration Tools
Jane sits next to Paul who sits next to Marie. They have a WhatsApp group that works just fine and each person knows the others role and when to shout at Paul. That’s great, but when (not if) you grow, how are you going to manage and keep track of all that? Lucky for us, there are some great tools out there and many of them are even free (cool features are paid of course). Given that our services and operations are so varied, you aren’t going to find a tool that does everything. So look for a collaboration tool that has integration to those other services you use for project management, financial planning and your crm.
It seems obvious to most of you reading this but please do not store your files on your computer or a usb (that isn’t backed up). Data recovery services are not cheap and given that you are a start-up, that money could be better spent elsewhere. Now that’s out of the way lets get to file storage. Sounds boring? Wrong! File storage platforms are critical to our collaboration and the big cloud platforms know that. Cloud file solutions that are integrated into our communication tools (email, chat) allow us to do simple tasks like online collaboration and hosting files for external parties to view and edit. It may seem simple but if you are sending files back and forth, you quickly eat up the amount of storage you are consuming and inevitably lose track of the most recent version. Tightly integrated advanced services such as encryption are also available. Why am I saying this to a new business? Well, its important to pick your solution early and stick with it adding more advanced features as and when you need. You will realise after a few months how quickly your data has grown and who wants to pay some IT company or spend their own valuable time moving it from one system to another?
I know, another one that may seem obvious to some but not to others. Of course, we all have an email account. From the not so professional @yahoo.com to the more professional custom domains hosted on flakey ISP infrastructure. Ive lost count of the amount of email migrations I have done over the years from cheaper email hosting to one of those bigger (also cheap) cloud hosting providers. Yet, I still get asked why one should be chosen over the other. So lets keep it simple with a good old list of reasons why you should choose one of the bigger players in the market:
1. Reliability: Established providers invest more in their infrastructure so can provide higher up-time
2. Security: Use a provider that invests in security of their systems so your emails do not get hacked but also apply more advance features to protect you from malicious emails
3. Integration: Built in integration to your collaboration tools. Making your more efficient
4. Compliance: Have a compliance requirement? You can guarantee larger providers meet that requirement
Just like with files. You do not want to have to spend more further down the track so cover yourself off at the beginning.
As they say, Keep it simple stupid. You are going to run your finances lean in the short term but you do not want to leave gaps that can cost you greatly later on. There are likely more than just 5 IT considerations for your business but the take home point is to implement a solution that is cost effective now that can be built on when required. Rather than ripping out the foundations and spending more in the future. Good luck!
Feel free to reach out and let me know what else should be considered