You’ve done the research; you have come up with the Next Big Thing and you are ready to launch – but what do you really need for your business when it comes to information technology? There are so many conflicting opinions on this, but we have narrowed down the 5 most important things you will need for your business, whether it is online or in person.
Today we rely more on I.T. services than many other things and starting with these five items will ensure you are well on your way.
- Your business name is a huge part of its identity, and often when starting out people realize that what they thought was entirely unique may be one of many identically named enterprises. It is important to note that the name you choose may not be linked to the purpose of the business, and therefore there is so much crossover with domain names.
- Having your own domain name sets your business apart from those who provide a similar service or product, but do not have their online presence set up properly or completely.
- A domain name is the identification string, or address, of your website – not to be confused with the website itself. You can purchase a domain name through numerous different online companies, and all it takes is the click of a button and ‘swipe’ of a bank card.
- It is wise to research how to make your domain name easy to access, as well as to avoid choosing a bulky, clunky name that is difficult to remember.
- Beware of ‘add-on’ sales from domain name websites – you only need the name, unless you are planning to also host your website with the domain provider. Look out for hidden fees, increased rates after time, additional costs for future changes, and potential transfer fees which may be incurred should you sell your business in the future.
- Be careful which suffix or TLD (top-level domain) you choose for the end of your website URL – the most common are .com, .org, or .net – along with country-specific TLDs. While some may argue that there is no difference, a .com may really come across as more credible than a. site or a. shop. In addition, a .org is often associated with a non-profit, a charity, or a similar organization.
Web Hosting Service
- A web hosting service is a company that provides the technology required for you (the business owner) to publish your website on the Internet.
- Your hosting service typically requires you to purchase your domain prior to hosting the website, but in some cases, they will assist you with this as well.
- In addition, the Web Host will also cover the following aspects:
- Email Accounts – this way your business email account will be personalized to the domain name. i.e., If you have purchased ‘www.mybusinessname.com’ then your email will be ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ as set up by the Web Host.
- FTP Access – File Transfer Protocol allows you to upload files from your computer to the webserver.
- Website support – your Web Host will also provide you with back-end access to your unpublished website, so you can make minor changes should you need to. If you are happy with the host making all changes this may not be required but may also carry an additional cost per change made.
- Another benefit of using a Web Host is that they have technicians who will make sure that your site is up and always running – you do not need to worry if the server crashes at 3:00 am and your online shop cannot be seen by potential clients.
- When you are ready to engage a web host you will need to make sure that the service also includes antivirus support and that the monthly maintenance fee is manageable and within your budget.
- Antivirus may not be automatically included, and all it takes is for one person to log in to your website, release a ‘Trojan’ and your beautiful page is gone!
- The monthly maintenance fee should cover all the above services with no hidden extras – this needs to be made transparent in the initial service level agreement.
Build the Site
- Once you have chosen your domain, and you have secured the services of a web host, what is left for the website is to create the content and build the site. This is something that you may want to do yourself, or alternately sub-contract out to a professional web designer, content creator, and/or copywriter.
- Content is key – if your content is not eye-catching, appealing, or relevant to the business you are setting up, then your website is far less likely to ever be seen. This is where we start to talk about SEO – Search Engine Optimization.
- Using SEO is the way you ensure your site is found when a user enters certain keywords into a search engine such as Bing, Google, or Ask.com, amongst many others.
- Your domain name is the first step in SEO – choosing the right name makes a lot of difference!
- SEO is more than just researching the correct keywords – it is about placement, as well as the right percentage of repetition. You need to research the titles of the pages within your website, as well as the descriptions on each page.
- Using anchor images and alt text is the next step.
- Ensure your site has a structure by using the right headers, sub-headers, and body text. SEO scans ALL the text within your website, so if your keywords are lost in a sea of spam, the user will not see them as easily as if it is kept simple and structured.
- Once you have set up your website, and are ready to launch, you will find that using an email host like G-Suite or Microsoft will make your life easier. These hosts bring everything to one place – you may have more than one email address that you would like to register, perhaps for other employees, or for different purposes (admin, sales, etc.), and the email host can act as a server for all these addresses.
- An email host also provides the following:
- Security – they will filter out spam and potential viruses.
- Support – there will be 24-hour assistance should anything go wrong.
- Flexibility – ensuring that your emails are accessible on all devices.
- Storage – there should never be any issues surrounding space and the number of emails you can keep in your Inbox folders.
- Maintenance – your email server should never be ‘down’, and you want to choose a host that provides at least 99% ‘up time’ to ensure that your business never loses out due to lost messages or missed appointments.
- Calendar management – you should be able to sync all your calendars so that all appointments are available on all devices, and you can separate work from personal items.
Work with a Managed Service Provider (MSP)
- By working with an MSP, you are at an advantage because so many issues surrounding viruses, malware, and spyware are often overlooked by even the most comprehensive antivirus software. The software on its own is not enough, this also needs to be monitored and consistently updated.
- Along with antivirus software, your hard drive, business software, and licensing certificates need to be monitored, checked for expiration, drive space, and potential failures. By working with an MSP, this is taken care of for you!
- This, in combination with some basic training for your staff, can save your business thousands of dollars, as well as time, data, and critical information. No one needs to go looking for an important file only to find it was affected by a virus or deleted in the latest hard disk backup.
- Info-Tech Montreal offers Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) services that ensure that there is someone watching at all times, working in the background, making sure that your business runs smoothly.